Jamie Barton: ‘I’m a supporter of having singers of every size on stage’

The mezzo-soprano on her Appalachian childhood, her sexuality, why she’s quit dieting – and her forthcoming Proms reveal

The American mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton is an international opera star who took both top prizes in the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition in 2013. She identifies as bisexual and has spoken out on queer issues and body image. On 14 September she joins the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Last Night of the Proms.

You’ve revealed you’ll be wearing the bisexual pride colours of lavender, pink and blue at the Last Night… tell us more.
I’m so thrilled about the dress – and the Last Night! I never dreamt I’d be asked to do this gig. It’s 50 years since the anniversary of Stonewall. It’s so important for me to stand up proudly as a bisexual woman. What I can tell you is that the main colour of the dress will be pewter, with a cape element, a bubble sleeve – and a reveal! That idea of reveal is very much part of queer culture, and drag. It’s a way of saying this is who I am.

I have wonderful liberal, hippy parents. Classical music was my rebellion when I hit my teens. I discovered Chopin!

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