Described as possessing “real star quality” (Times) and giving a “a powerhouse performance that’s a vocal and physicaltour de force” (whatsonstage), British/Catalan mezzo soprano Marta Fontanals-Simmons began her musical training with a BMus at the University of Birmingham. Marta then completed her MMus, Opera Course training and finally an Artist Diploma with distinction at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London. While studying with Marilyn Rees at GSMD, she was awarded the 2014 Principal's Prize and 2015 Gold Medal, performing arias by Mozart, Bellini and Rossini at Barbican Hall. Marta is now in demand as a versatile and committed performer throughout the UK and Europe.
Marta was recently awarded the 'Prix de Lied' at the Concours International de chant-piano Nadia et Lili Boulanger in Paris, the 'Robert Hendra Prize for Excellence' at the Emmy Destinn Czech Competition, 'Maureen Lehane Vocal Award' and was a Finalist in the 2014 Kathleen Ferrier Awards.
Marta is a keen exponent of concert and oratorio repertoire. She made her Wigmore Hall recital debut, accompanied by Timothy End in June 2014. Other recent highlights include Vaughan Williams Serenade to Music with Sakari Oramo at the Last Night of the Proms,Vivaldi Gloria / Royal Festival Hall / Philharmonia Orchestra, L’Enfant et les Sortilèges with Stéphane Denève / Radio-Sinfonieorchester Stuttgart / Liederahalle Stuttgart; Verdi Requiem / Royal Albert Hall / English Festival Orchestra; Vaughan Williams Serenade to Music / City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra & live on BBC Radio 3, Wesendonck Lieder with Quantum Ensemble / Auditorio Tenerife; Mozart Requiem / Royal Philharmonic Orchestra / St Paul's Cathedral; Bach Mass in B Minor with Ryan Wigglesworth / St Endellion Festival; Mozart Mass in C Minor / London Mozart Players / St John's Smith Square and at the Sheldonian Theatre, Oxford; Handel Messiah with Lawrence Cummings / London Handel Festival; Mahler Kindertotenlieder with Mike Seal / Corinthian Chamber Orchestra / St James’ Piccadilly; Strauss Deutsche Motette and Duruflé Requiem / London Mozart Players / St John’s Smith Square. Marta enjoys giving recitals and regularly performs at St Martin in the Fields, St James' Piccadilly and St Stephen's Wallbrook. Marta is a Tillett Trust Artist and Concordia Foundation Artist.
In 2016, Marta was delighted to make her Glyndebourne Festival Opera debut as Lapák in The Cunning Little Vixen as well as her Glyndebourne on Tour debut as Kate Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly. Marta joined Glyndebourne Festival as a Jerwood Young Artist in 2015, performing in Carmen, Poliuto, Saul and covering Cat & Squirrel in L’Enfant et les Sortilèges. Other operatic experience includes Mercedes & cover title role Carmen / Mid Wales Opera; Woodpecker & cover Fox The Cunning Little Vixen / Garsington Opera; title role The Adventures of Pinocchio Jonathan Dove; Paggio Francesca di Foix Donizetti; Kate Julian Owen Wingrave / GSMD; Drummer The Emperor of Atlantis / Grimeborn Festival and Kate Pinkerton Madama Butterfly / Grange Park Opera.
Marta regularly performs New Music and enjoys collaborating with composers and librettists. Most recently, she has had the pleasure of workshopping the title roles of two new Royal Opera House commissions as well as premiering the role of Ursula in the ROH / Glyndebourne co-production Nothing, based on the novel by Danish author Janne Teller and composed by David Bruce. Marta has also collaborated on, premiered and recorded two new songs cycles; Damsel, Wife, Witch by Glyndebourne composer in residence Lewis Murphy and Letters from Home by award-winning composer Benjamin Ellin. Other performances of note include Dominick Argento From the Diary of Virginia Woolf with Lana Bode as part of the 26th Annual Conference on Virginia Woolf at Leeds Trinity and Jonathan Harvey’s Songs of Li Po with Richard Baker at Barbican Hall and live on BBC Radio 3.
In 2017, Marta will cover the title role in LaCenerentola for Opera North, debut title role in LaCenerentola for Diva Opera in a tour of the UK and France and debut Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro at Garsington Opera. Subsequent engagements include Marta's debut at Teatro Real, Madrid and Opera de Monte Carlo as well as returns to both Garsington Opera and Glyndebourne Festival Opera.
Marta is very grateful to those who have generously supported her throughout her time at GSMD; the Gwen Catley Scholarship, John & Amy Ford, the Leverhulme Arts Scholarship, the Worshipful Company of Leathersellers, the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, Help Musicians UK Sybil Tutton Award, Susan Chilcott Scholarship, Simon Fletcher Charitable Trust, Sir Richard Stapley Educational Trust, Sidney Perry Foundation and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.