Branagh's Protge Wows Venice Film Festival

Article excerpt

She was cast straight out of university without a professional performance to her name.

But last night Amy Carson, 23, was the belle of the ball at the Venice Film Festival as the star of Kenneth Branagh's new adaptation of Mozart's opera, The Magic Flute. Branagh plucked her from obscurity for the role of Pamina in his version of the opera, which has been set against the backdrop of the trenches of the First World War.

Until then, Carson's experience of singing in public was limited to her early years as a chorister at Salisbury Cathedral -one of the first intake of girls -and tours with the choir of Trinity College, Cambridge, where she studied music until last sum-mer. "I heard about the auditions and got in touch at rather a late stage and asked whether there was still a chance I could audition," she told a press conference in Venice yesterday.

"I've always been enchanted by the part of Pamina. I'm very excited to play it because I'm young and Mozart had a very young girl sing it - he created the role for Anna Gottlieb, who was 17 when she sang it."

Carson, from Bristol, said she had sung all her life. Since leaving Cambridge she has pursued a freelance career, working with the likes of the eminent conductor Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir.

She was thrilled when Branagh chose her for the movie, which has been funded by Sir Peter Moores, the Little-woods pools heir and philanthropist who is a supporter of opera sung in English.

Working with Branagh was a dream come true. "Hamlet was the first Shakespeare play that I discovered and studied in depth at school, and to see Ken's Hamlet completely took my breath away," she said. …