Born in Wolverhampton, Claire studied at the Birmingham School of Music, at the Royal Academy of Music with Rae Woodland and Kenneth Bowen, and subsequently with Linda Esther Gray. She joined Kent Opera during her final year at the Academy, was awarded the Wessex Glyndebourne Association Prize in 1998, and in 1999 made her Glyndebourne Festival Opera debut singing the role of Vitellia in La Clemenza di Tito. Further engagements at Glyndebourne included covering the roles of Ellen Orford in Peter Grimes and the Countess in Le Nozze di Figaro, followed by contracts with Opera de Lyon and Opera Europa.
One of the country’s most adaptable sopranos, Claire also enjoys remarkable success in the early music field where she has worked with ensembles such as The Tallis Scholars and the Gabrieli Consort, with whom she made her BBC Proms debut in Handel’s Dixit Dominus and is known for her performances of the soprano solos in Allegri’s Miserere.
Claire’s oratorio experience is extremely broad and she is particularly renowned for her performances of Verdi’s Requiem, Brahms’ Requiem and Mozart’s C Minor Mass. Her recent repertoire has ranged from regularly performed favourites such as Verdi’s Requiem and Mozart’s Requiem to less often heard works, such as Symanowski’s Stabat Mater and Elgar’s The Light of Life.
In addition to recording the Allegri, Claire’s discography includes the role of The Believer in Rutland Boughton’s Bethlehem for Naxos, Brahms’ Deutsche Requiem with Jeremy Backhouse and the Vasari Singers for Guild, and the world premiere of Jonathan Dove’s The far theatricals of day with Nicholas Cleobury. Claire has also recorded the Pergolesi Stabat Mater with the counter-tenor Andrew Watts.
A recent highlight was the world premiere of Paul Mealor’s cantata The Farthest Shore with the BBC Singers, broadcast live on Radio 3 from St David’s Cathedral.