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Bury St Edmunds-born international opera singer, Clare Presland, announced as first patron of Irving Stage Company

An internationally-renowned opera singer from Suffolk has been announced as the patron of the Irving Stage Company.

Clare Presland, from Bury St Edmunds, has become the first parton for the Barton Mills-based amateur theatre company.

This news comes as the theatre group prepares to return to the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds in November, with Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd – the Demon Barber of Fleet Street - a show she knows well.

The new patron of the Irving Stage Company, Clare Presland. Picture submitted
The new patron of the Irving Stage Company, Clare Presland. Picture submitted

Clare said: “My life and musical life started in Suffolk and I pride myself on being a ‘good olde Suffolk gal’.

“I started singing with the legendary Birgitta Kenyon and performed with The Voice Squad, I then spent many incredibly inspiring years with Suffolk Young People’s Theatre, with my first role with them as Johanna in Sweeney Todd.

“It was such a moment for me, one which made me realise that I would like to become a singer, professionally. I will always be thankful for my learnings from this time along with the memories of the laughs we kiddos had.”

Clare’s career took her to many of the world's largest opera houses including the Royal Opera House; with English National Opera; Opéra de Lyon; Théatre des Champs Elysées – Paris; Gran Teatre del Liceu – Barcelona; as well as many others.

On August 8 this year, she also made her BBC Proms debut with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

Even though she has travelled far and wide, Clare said Suffolk has never left her.

She said; “What has always stayed with me, is how supported I’ve felt by the folk of Suffolk.

“My mother died of cancer when I was 16, just as I started my operatic journey and I guess I’ve always felt as if everyone in my home county supported and believed in me. That’s really special. You need that, to drive you forward.

“It’s an enormous honour to be patron of the Irving Stage Company. I performed with so many Irving members while growing up and I can’t wait to see and work alongside them in some of your future projects.

Siân Couture, Artistic Director of Irving Stage Company, has known Clare since she was 16 and said this appointment was very exciting.

She said: “I have watched Clare’s career blossom and grow with great pride and admiration.

“It is a wonderful honour to welcome Clare as our patron, as we prepare for our own production of Sondheim’s masterpiece.”

The Irving Stage Company production of Sweeney Todd – the Demon Barber of Fleet Street by Stephen Sondheim, is at the Theatre Royal in Bury St Edmunds from 7 to 11 November.