Heather Engebretson Soprano, United States of America «I have always found that I perform better under extreme pressure.» What inspired you to become a singer? I took somewhat of a circuitous path to get here: I was a violinist first and only began to sing after sustaining an injury. After pursuing a music theory degree, I realised that though I found theory fascinating as a subject it didn't speak to me enough to pursue it vocationally. Staying in music was the sole goal, and I therefore bristle quite a bit when the phrase 'singers and musicians' is bandied about! What’s your dream role and why? The title roles of Lulu and of Salome. I find Lulu to be utterly rational and understandable at every single moment – life has dealt her unfavourable circumstances, but there is no action that she takes that I cannot understand. I admire this woman deeply, in spite of her twisted circumstances and perhaps because of her reactions to them. Salome is a slightly different bag – perhaps she is a portrait of operatic insanity – but I would be extremely interested to dig deeper into this. Wilde has given us an extremely blank canvass on which to cultivate one's own vision of this young woman, but Strauss is much more musically explicit. Who is your favourite singer and why? Mario Del Monaco! There are only a handful of thrills in life that compete with hearing his voice. Being in an illegally speeding car is one of them, and I would have to imagine that falling from a great height would be another (though I've no interest in either). How else can we find visceral thrill without risking life and limb? What do you hope to achieve by participating in The Queen Sonja International Music Competition? I have always found that I perform better under extreme pressure. Taking part in a high-flying competition such as this is a particular psychological ploy to 'up' the quality of my singing. Additionally, this is an excellent opportunity for me to see who and what's out there and, even more than that, to sing repertoire that I have chosen out of love or fascination – a rare opportunity for any fest singer. Tell us something surprising or unexpected about yourself! I love some very odd sports, live my life in high heels, and am extremely clumsy. This particular trifecta means that at any given moment I'm nursing two or three minor and generally hilarious injuries. When you meet me, ask me what's wrong with me at that moment and why: I guarantee you a story on which you can dine out for at least a week. Is there anything else you would like to tell us, which might be interesting to the public? La storia mia è breve. I am passionate about the symphonic repertoire, biographies of composers, Carlos Kleiber, dogs, and shoes that I can't afford. That about covers it.