Young Artist Interview: Joshua Owen Mills

Multi-award-winning Yeoman Joshua Owen Mills is widely regarded as one of the country’s most promising tenors. A former Guildhall School of Music & Drama student and Jerwood Young Artist with Glyndebourne Opera, Joshua is currently with the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, appearing as Jeppo Liverotto Lucrezia Borgia, Nerèo Mefistofele and Liebender als junger Mann in the world premiere of Die Vorübergehenden composed by Nikolaus Brass.


Jeppo, Nerèo or Liebender – which role are you enjoying the most?

I’m very excited to debut the role of Liebender als junger Mann in the world premiere of Die Vorübergehenden. Creating a role which has never been performed before is really exciting.


How do you memorise an opera part?

With contemporary music, I’ll begin with rhythm alone. Once I have some kind of rhythmic structure, I’ll start adding the pitches and language. It’s quite a different process to learning standard operatic repertoire, but also very satisfying once it all comes together.


Do you consider yourself as much an actor as a singer?

Getting to step inside the shoes of characters is something I’ll always love about opera.


How do you protect your voice from the demands of opera?

Working in the German system gave me a good insight into this, as you’re rehearing numerous productions simultaneously. You have to be aware of your limits, and plan very carefully. Simple things like hydration, good sleep, and rest are vital and keep you in good shape. I don’t drink alcohol either, which seems to be a big bonus.


Any bucket list roles you’d like to sing?  

I would love to have a bash at singing Albert in Albert Herring by Britten. The comic timing is paced perfectly, and everything is so British.


Which role would you happily perform again and again?

I’d love to sing Tamino (Die Zauberflöte) again. I feel so at home singing this role. The overture was on my playlist last week, and I must have listened to it three or four times.


Following on from that, any ‘never again’ roles?

I can honestly say no. I’ll give anything a go, at least once.


What do you consider operatic success?

Success is defined by each individual differently. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking short term, but I would certainly consider longevity a sign of success. If I’m still singing in my 50s and 60s, I’ll be a happy man.


Have competitions been a useful springboard?

The competition platform was an important one for me. The opportunity to sing alongside orchestras, and test new repertoire was vital.


Why do singers wish each other ‘Toi, Toi, Toi’?

Who knows? There are lots of strange theatre traditions. I’m told you’re not supposed to say ‘thank you’ when someone wishes you Toi, Toi, Toi which always catches me out. It’s a fun tradition, and there are so many different versions.


Find out more about Joshua Owen Mills.