Holy Cross Church, London August 2018

Clare McCaldin as Queen Mary I on 1 August 2018. Photo: Laurel Turton for Tete a Tete

The writer Di Sherlock and composer Martin Bussey have created a clever, dramatically satisfying and eminently programmable piece which, while created for the mezzo-soprano Clare McCaldin, should prove an attractive vehicle to other singers, and certainly deserves an ongoing concert life.

McCaldin herself was magnetic throughout, holding her audience within her power absolutely. McCaldin’s coolness, her careful deployment of musical colour – now breathy-conspiratorial, now exaggerated and mocking, now finding tone fingertip-soft for a lullaby for the phantom-baby Mary would never give birth to – cut against the score’s more indulgent instincts, briskly unsentimental to the end.

Opera Magazine, October 2018

Elegant, thoughtful, current without being gimmicky and immaculately presented, Mary’s Hand is a 70-minute rebuke to the UK’s major opera companies.

At the centre of it all, holding the stage with girlish, flickering fingers and a pitiless thrust of the chin is mezzo-soprano Clare McCaldin… an outstanding singing-actress.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Alexandra Coghlan for The Independent. Click here to read full review

The Tete a Tete Opera Festival thrives on the new and the experimental, so the 80-minute monodrama Mary’s Hand in a sense appears like an interloper. Its conception is so fully conceived that it seems to have hatched fully formed.

McCaldin convincingly brings the music, as well as Di Sherlock’s potent text, to life.

Well-conceived operatic take on the life of Mary I.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Edward Bhesania for The Stage. Click here to read full review

from the February 2019 performance, Lancaster Priory

a moving performance in an historic setting, beautiful, dramatic and unique.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Robert Hamilton for Northern Soul. Click here to read full review

Martin Bussey’s elegant, expressive score makes maximum use of seemingly minimal resources. Written specially for the mezzo-soprano performing the role, Clare McCaldin, Mary’s part deftly moves between spoken word and sung passages. It’s a performance that’s somehow both handsomely relaxed and precision-sharp

Adrian Ainsworth for Specs Blog. Click here to read full review

The songs and spoken text are impressively detailed… It seems that Di Sherlock has a wealth of knowledge on the Tudor family and managed to systematically integrate this gracefully into the music.

McCaldin’s body language on stage was deliberate, poised and enlightening. Her voice soared elegantly across the church and she engaged the audience’s attention with every breath

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Mary Nguyen for TrendFEM. Click here to read full review

McCaldin’s performance itself is mesmeric… This piece is thoroughly enjoyable, McCaldin Arts have not just reached, but exceeded their brief of bringing to life historical characters, examining their lives provocatively with passion and modernity.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Thomas Joy for Mind The Blog. Click here to read full review

Set within the impressive architecture of Holy Cross Church, King’s Cross, and with the stunning Tudor replica costume skilfully made by Andie Scott and Sophie Meyer, aesthetically, Mary’s Hand cannot be faulted.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

Phoebe Cole for The Spy In The Stalls. Click here to read full review

McCaldin is variously eye flashingly sexy, imperious, wistful, resigned and angry. And she maintains a remarkable level of energy given that this is effectively an 80 minute solo. Her voice includes some ruby red impassioned low notes and some fierce, sometimes hysterical, high ones. She manages the emotional contrasts with verve… Words and music complement each other seamlessly.

Susan Elkin for Lark Reviews. Click here to read full review

the performance from Clare McCaldin was a real tour-de-force as she brilliantly incarnated Mary, going from imperious Queen to tragic heroine at the end. McCaldin brought a real sense of personality to the performance, and held us gripped as Mary explored the various factors which contributed to her make up… A remarkable feat of stamina and power, creating a dramatic narrative and holding our attention for 80 minutes, making Queen Mary live before our eyes.

★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

Robert Hugill for Planet Hugill. Click here to read full review

Funtingdon Music Group Recital, Oct 2018

Clare McCaldin delivered her songs with sensitivity and variety, employing a palette of vocal skills that produced a first class performance.

Phil Hewitt for the Funtingdon Music Group. Click here for full review

Reviews for Vivienne, Riverside Studios, London August 2013

Clare as Vivienne on 8 August 2013. Photo: Claire Shovelton for Tete a Tete

McNeff delivers an unpredictable yet instantly appealing score… Andy Rashleigh’s libretto is allusive and witty… All is delivered by catty, horny McCaldin, all with a sheen of barmy. It’s a far better performance than we’re entitled to from someone who can also sing.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Kieron Quirke for The Evening Standard

Clare McCaldin performed fantastically… It’s rare that a one-woman show can be so clever and funny without dragging towards the end

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Kate Mason for One Stop Arts

the show has great pace and energy… McCaldin Arts have given her a voice

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Wendy Thomson for Female Arts

This year Tête à Tête has found a treasure in Vivienne – a monologue-opera for mezzo and piano by Stephen McNeff… The work was elegantly performed by Clare McCaldin and pianist Elizabeth Burgess and deserves a rich concert life after this.

Alexandra Coghlan for The New Statesman (Sept 2013 print edition)

The work is perhaps lighter than McCaldin and McNeff’s previous collaboration, A Voice of One Delight… But McNeff and McCaldin built the piece into a powerful conclusion as we gradually left popular music behind… McCaldin gave a remarkable performance. Remarkable perhaps because in its complete identification with Vivienne and its intensity she made you forget that this was sung at all and the work became simply drama of the most involving kind.

Robert Hugill in Planet Hugill

Reviews for Notes from the Asylum, CHRCD111

notes from the asylum cd

This is a powerful disc, and McCaldin demonstrates the wide range and adaptability of her voice across such a broad range of repertoire, but it is in Vivienne that her dramatic abilities are most impressively in evidence.

Nick Boston in Classical Notes, August 2016

richly sung, richly imaginative

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Rebecca Franks in BBC Music Magazine, July 2016 (August edition)

Clare McCaldin shows how she is able to shape and control her voice to draw so much from each song, following the subtle nuances of each text to deliver the most remarkable performances.

Bruce Reader in The Classical Reviewer, June 2016

Vivienne is a remarkable tour-de-force, in the flesh the piece is highly theatrical but this new disc does really capture the brilliance of McNeff and Rashleigh’s recapturing of Vivienne Eliott’s point of view. The whole recital puts together an interesting sidelong view on madness, combining both fictional characters and real experience.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Robert Hugill in Planet Hugill, June 2016