Jessica Walker plays a man for her solo show

Just what is it that makes a woman in trousers so appealing? Opera singer Jessica Walker explains all in her new one-woman show.

Called The Girl I Left Behind Me, it explores the forgotten tradition of women who impersonate men. Mezzo-soprano Ms Walker is the sole performer. She says: "It's just me, so the rehearsals have been quite tiring."

Ms Walker got the idea for the show after a doing a gig in which she sang songs written for a man. "It was a challenge working out how to sing them.

"It got me thinking about women who used to make their entire living dressed as men, and I became interested in it. This show is one of the most demanding things I've done. I am used to doing concerts but this is not a concert - there is both singing and speaking, so I am using a lot of energy. It's much harder than an opera."

Ms Walker will be touring the UK with the show, which was commissioned by Opera North.

The tour kicks off on May 15 at the Howard Assembly Room in Leeds.

The daughter of Pete Brown - who wrote for rock stars Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce - she has enjoyed a successful career in both opera and crossover repertoire, in Britain and abroad.

Recent opera performances include Gloria in Kurt Weill's One Touch of Venus at Opera North, the Little Arab in Bohuslav Martinu's Julietta for Opera North at the Ravenna Festival, Gigi in School for Lovers at Glyndebourne and the Finnish National Opera, and the world premiere of Joanna Lee's staged song cycle for mezzo-soprano with the Psappha ensemble.

    Last updated: 11:13am, May 13 2010