When Alexandra Lowe steps on to the stage at The Lowry tomorrow night as one of the stars of Opera North’s production of Cosi fan tutti, it will be something of a homecoming.

For Alexandra, one of the rising stars of the opera world, grew up in Wigan and trained at the Junior Royal Northern College of Music at the start of her singing career.

Bury Times: Alexandra Lowe (Picture: Bertie Watson)

“It’s going to be so good to be at The Lowry,” she said. “It means I can finally get all my family along to see what I do. I do a lot of work in London so that’s not easy for people. When I was at the RNCM I did quite a few concerts in Manchester.”

Cosi fan tutti is one of Mozart’s most popular operas. Alexandra plays Fiordiligi, one of the sisters whose fiancés agree to an ill-advised wager with their friend, the cynic Don Alfonso, that no woman will remain faithful if put to the test.

This leads to much confusions as the two men adopt different disguises as they try to dupe their fiancées.

“This will be the first time I have ever done an English translation of the opera,” said Alexandra. “I’ve done it several times before but it’s always been in Italian and having it in English really does make a difference.

“Purely as a singer I missed not singing it in Italian, it’s actually easier on your voice; but when it comes to communicating the story with the audience this is the best way. Everyone follows the jokes and they laugh at the right time.

“That doesn’t always happen when it’s in Italian as they audience are reading the surtitltes then they get the gag and that can be so annoying.”

Bury Times: Heather Lowe as Dorabella, Alexandra Lowe as Fiordiligi and Gillene Butterfield as Despina in Opera North’s Cosi fan tutti                    (Picture: James Glossop)

Alexandra believes that Cosi fan tutti is an excellent choice for anyone thinking of going to an opera for the first time.

“I think it will surprise people how funny it is,” she said. “Also there is such a good story which is both easy to follow but also leaves you wanting to know what is going to happen next.

“That’s the thing with many operas. Yes, they may be seen as being really old stories but actually they are all about human relationships and those things never change. They have real life to them and are very relevant to an audience. At the end of the day they are all about people’s lives.”

With so much going on, Alexandra admits that singing Fiordiligi is a very challenging role - partly because of her costume.

“We wear these fabulous 18th Century-style dresses which look great but they are so heavy,” she laughed. “You want to try carrying between 10 and 20 kilos of fabric around and having to sing at the same time. It’s a big role and I’m barely off the stage during the whole production so it is a bit of a three hour marathon for me.”

Opera performers face a double challenge which is often overlooked. Not only do they have to sing some of Mozart’s most beautiful compositions accompanied by an orchestra, they also have tell the story as well as any actor would do in a traditional play.

“I’ve never known anything else,” said Alexandra. “The two things go hand in hand. At this level you have to be able to sing and sing well but then the drama and acting side comes along.

“That’s the most fun part. Letting go of the technical side of singing and becoming your character - that’s really what it’s all about. If you can let go and be in the moment, the story comes to life.”

Of course there can be a danger of becoming too involved in the character as Alexandra explained.

Bury Times: Henry Neill as Guglielmo, Anthony Gregory as Ferrando, Alexandra Lowe as Fiordiligi, Heather Lowe as Dorabella, Quirijn de Lang as Don Alfonso and Gillene Butterfield as Despina (Picture: James Glossop)

“It’s all to easy to get too involved in the emotion and if that happens it’s really difficult to sing. It’s happened to me a handful of times on stage but I have learned how to deal with that.

“From the audience perspective it might look very moving if someone is crying on stage but you should try singing opera with mucus going everywhere, it’s not pleasant! Yes, you want to feel it but only to a certain extent.”

Alexandra will be with Opera North until April and then she has a series of recitals into the summer.

“I’ve not spoken to many singers who ever have a full diary and that makes me feel better and I know that I’m really at the beginning of my career,” she said. “But I’ve been lucky to have had two back-to-back contracts which has meant I’ve been pretty much living out of a suitcase for the past six months.”

Among the recitals she has lined up Alexandra will be going back to Mallorca where she grew up.

“I’ll actually be performing at the biggest concert hall in what was my home town for the first time so that will be special,” she said.

She is also hoping to arrange more concerts to promote her debut album, Le Voyage, which earlier this year was nominated for the Newcomers Award by the BBC Music Magazine.

“To be recognised like that is pretty cool to be honest,” she said.

The album features Alexandra accompanied by pianist Patrick Milne performing a programme of music from the French ‘romantic period. The album was inspired by Ravel’s Shéhérazade.

“I love exploring songs and with the album it really took me on a musical holiday It was a lovely project to be involved in.”

Cosi fan tutti will be performed at The Lowry, Salford Quays, on Thursday, March 21 and Saturday, March 23. The season opens tonight with Mascagni’s Cavalleria rusticana paired with Rachmaninov’s rarely-performed Aleko. Details from