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Underneath The Iconic Berlin Landmark – The Brandenburg Gate

 

Goodness! my time in Berlin has flown by and what a whirlwind it has been! I have loved living in Germany for three weeks and I definitely would love to go back in the future.

 

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Singing During The Opera Gala Concert

 

 

I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet and work alongside so many wonderful and talented singers from all over the world. I wish them all the success for their futures and I’m sure I will see them again on the opera stage.

For myself, the most interesting piece of knowledge that I have gained is that your own artistic individuality is key to your performance, allowing you to enjoy being the person you are on and offstage. Like a wonderful piece of art some people will love you and others,  whose tastes differ may not. But I know that if I sing with all my heart, demonstrating who I am as a performer with my own bells and whistles, then I know that I can be honest with the story and let my body sing from my soul.

I would like to thank all the staff at the Berlin Opera Academy for a wonderful experience and I hope to catch up with them all again in the future.

Here are some pictures which were taken during one of our rehearsals of Carmen and I hope they give you a flavour of the production.

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Looking forward to my next projects and the big move to London!

Week Two In Berlin

August 15, 2016 — 32 Comments

In one of my master-classes this week I sang for Lena Belkina http://lenabelkina.com– mezzo soprano, who was a wonderful lady full of vibrancy.  

She gave me some great tips on how to sing Puccini and how to control any nerves before getting on stage.

Then the cast performed in a show called “Opera On Tap” where we got to sing snippets of the opera in a full bar and the atmosphere was great, full of high energy.


Lots of rehearsals, the production is now on its feet and we began doing runs this weekend ready to lead into the final four days of rehearsal this week.

It’s getting very exciting and I can’t wait to perform the role of Frasquita here in Germany.

Together with some of friends from the cast we managed to grab a little spare time for exploring one of the local parks here in Berlin.

 Although we have all worked hard there has still been time to sample some great food and shared many laughs.  

Then on Sunday evening I performed alongside Néstor Bayona three songs from Edvard Grieg’s Haugtussa. (I’ve been told there was a recording (video) hopefully I can get a copy. He was a dream to work with and I enjoyed shaping the music in a different style full of dance tempos and exciting trills.

I arrived in Germany on Sunday evening last week and since then I have had such a fabulous time.

Monday to Saturday my day was scheduled to begin at 10 am finishing at late evening. We work on the staging of Carmen, singing lessons, movement, and coaching. The whole experience has been so wonderful, but also very tiring, so I was relieved to have the day off today.

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A traditional day at the Berlin Opera Academy begins with a movement class for an hour with Andrea Danae Kingston, who is an energetic character to ignite our energies in the mornings. At 11:00 we then move on to production rehearsal, which involves staging scenes from Carmen with Gidon Saks. His direction is feisty and full of drama. It is great to work with him as an artist as every musical phrase has a new energy and thought to provoke the flow of the storytelling. Peter Leonard, our conductor, also leads these sessions to encourage us to keep the integrity of the written music and to ensure that the music reflects the drama. The whole cast and production team are wonderful to work with, and everybody is compassionate and encouraging towards one another.

It has been an adventure living and working in Berlin as I have had to get used to the public transport system here which is very well organised and enables you to get from
A to B very efficiently. If anyone is visiting, I greatly recommend using the app BVG fahrinfo to help you get around. It has made my life much easier, especially since my average travel time from home to each of the rehearsal spaces is 45 minutes including multiple changes. I hope it has prepared me for tube life in London. Learning lessons everywhere in everyday situations!

 

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On Saturday after a day of rehearsals we all got the opportunity to get our glad rags on and take to the stage and perform in the Opera Gala. We performed in a beautiful museum setting in the Mendelssohn-Remise, which was a very poetic setting for songs about love and loss. We all had a wonderful time, and I am excited about the lieder concert next Saturday.

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Xenia Cumento, Caitlin Redding, Me, Julie Cowger, Beeth Mirahver and kneeling down Ivory Logins.

 

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My Carmen Girls, Victoria Graves (Mercedes), Rebeca Fjallsby (Carmen) and Me (Frasquita)

 

 

 

 

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Pauline Pelosi and Me

 

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I can’t wait to get back into it tomorrow!

On my day off today, I was able to explore a little more of Berlin, and I came across an eccentric flea market, Berliner Trödelmarkt which stretches out across large boulevards near the Tiergarten in Charlottenburg. The products on sale ranged from fashion, stamps and collectibles, gifts, art, furniture, food, and ornaments. It was so wonderful to see each store holders personality in the collections of items that they sold or created by hand.

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Later in the afternoon I then had a singing lesson and then chilled out at the flat with my beautiful flatmates and friends from the course.

All Systems Go

July 31, 2016 — 68 Comments

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All systems go this week as we launch into an exciting project that will span over the next few weeks.

Earlier in the year I successfully auditioned for the part of Frasquita in the Berlin Opera Academy production of Carmen, and today, I’m travelling to the fabulous city of Berlin in Germany to join the rest of the cast for the rehearsals. I must thank the Hope Scott Trust for generously agreeing to cover the costs of my flights so that I could take up this opportunity. The Director has been inspired by choreographer and dancer Bob Fosse so I’m very excited to be part of the production because I get the chance to incorporate dance movement with emotive arias while wearing fringe, mesh, and velvet costumes.

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Some Of The Buildings Here In Berlin Are So Colourful

But before getting stuck in I was invited to work with Scottish Opera Connect on the role of ‘Serpina’ in “La Serva Padrona” by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. I enjoyed preparing this role, with a character that packs a punch with a lot of cheeky smiles.  On my arrival back in Glasgow, I was thrilled to be asked by Scottish Opera Connect to take on the role of guest vocal coach and teacher.  It felt strange at first for me to be the person leading the lesson but I quickly settled into it and taught one-to-one lessons with Ruth Wilkinson a wonderful experienced pianist accompanying and I worked with a team of fabulous musicians to coach the ensembles.

Participating in the project was a great experience for me as it provided me with my first official teaching job after completing my degree and it was so exciting to work with young voices and use exercises and games to help improve and create what I hope were positive results for the students.

On Friday morning, alongside Andy McTaggart the former Scottish Opera Emerging Artist, I performed for the Connect Company and Andy and I held a “Question & Answer” session about music in higher education and the possibilities available to graduates moving onwards into the business. This experience was very surreal for me as it made me realise that I am now considered a professional singer, and over the last four years I have accomplished some exciting things. When answering I tried to be as honest and helpful with my answers as I could be, then afterwards I thought to myself that I would have loved an opportunity like this at the age of the group (14-17), who were all on a summer residency a training week for young singers auditioning to become members of the Connect Chorus.

Last night ( Saturday ) I went to support my friend Keanon Kyles from Chicago, America. He was performing his first UK appearance in the role ‘Colline’ from “La Boheme” by Puccini with Clyde Opera. The performance was thrilling and full of dramatic character and beautifully set. It was so wonderful to see the result of the hard work he had put in, as he told me all about the build up to the performance during his visit to Glasgow.

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Keanon Kyles and Me

On Wednesday this week I traveled back up to Glasgow so that I could start rehearsals on Friday 22nd July as a soloist for the Scottish Opera Connect Company. It was wonderful to meet up with the current members of the Company at the rehearsal space at Elmbank Crescent and start the preparations for Sunday’s performance.

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This year they have been asked to showcase their work during the opening ceremony of the 32nd World Conference of the International Society for Music Education.  The event is taking place at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall tonight ( Sunday 24th July 2016 ) at 18:30 pm.  It is a fabulous venue, and I am thrilled to performing here again as part of such a fabulous occasion.

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Scottish Opera Connect Company comprises of the Connect Chorus, the Connect Orchestra, and Connect Stage management, which all provide valuable experience for young people between the ages of 14 and 21 in all aspects of Opera.  It is a fantastic program and one that I have been proud to be associated with.  For this event, they are showcasing the work that they do by performing a 15-minute excerpt from Scottish Opera’s “Cabinet of Doctor Caligari”.

The production was commissioned by Scottish Opera for the Connect Company and composed by Karen MacIver and librettist Allan Dunn.  The story, based on the 1920’s German silent horror movie “Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari”, relates a tale of murder, intrigue, and mayhem.

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The Poster From The 1920’s Film “Das Cabinet Des Dr. Caligari”

In this adaptation, we find the story set in Scotland and unfolds in Glasgow Green and within the Gartloch Asylum. Doctor Gallagher travels around the fairs and festivals using his somnambulist ( a great word for someone under a hypnotic trance ) called Cesare to commit evil murderous deeds.  At one of these fairs, my character ‘Jane’ is told by Cesare while he is in a hypnotic trance that her friend Ellen will die.  Following Ellen’s death Jane and her boyfriend Francis ( played by Glen Cunningham ) decide to investigate further but the whole experience tips Jane over the edge and with her sanity failing she is recommended to attend a doctor Caligari at the Gartloch Asylum. The story concludes as Doctor Caligari and his alter ego Doctor Gallagher are exposed as being one and the same person, and his murderous deeds are finally uncovered.

 

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Leah Duncan, Me, Glen Cunningham and Erin Spence

The whole production brought enthusiastically to life by the conductor, Chris Gray, and the director Julie Brown has been a wonderful experience to be a part of, and it has been a pleasure to work with them again.  The professionalism that they bring to these productions provides the members of the Connect Company a real taste of what it would be like to take to the stage as a professional performer.  Being asked to perform as a professional soloist alongside so many talented and enthusiastic young performers from the Connect Company has been an experience that I will cherish forever, and I will always be grateful to Scottish Opera for allowing me to be a small part of this empowering educational project.

Here are some pictures with the members of the Connect Company.

With the staff backstage, Rose Ann, Laura McIntosh and in the bottom picture Jodie Mitchell with me and Sophie Holloway

Here a couple of pictures whilst we were on stage performing this evening taken by Ankna Arokiam:)

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I found out today that Nicky Spence, a patron of the Connect Company, set out from Glasgow on a sponsored cycle ride to London in aid of Help Musicians UK who carry out such tremendous work in helping to provide much-needed funding to selected musicians to assist in their studies and professional development.

Ahead of some exciting projects that I have coming up over the next couple of months I took the opportunity this week to visit my teacher, Judith Howarth, for an energising lesson to help me in my preparations.

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Me With Judith Howarth

We worked on a variety of music, which I will be excited to tell you all about very soon. Whilst I was there we chatted about different operatic roles and it was lovely of her to show me some of the pictures that she has in her home from her fabulous career; so many different roles that she has performed from all around the World. Her mum created photo albums with pictures and newspaper clippings displaying her musical journey, It was so inspiring, so I thought I would take a picture of the two of us and start creating a post degree scrapbook for myself with my Mum and to share my own experiences with you all here on my blog.

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This weekend I went back home for a catch up and to relax with my Mum and Dad, we took advantage of the sunny weather today and did a little gardening. It was lovely to spend a few hours in the peacefulness of the garden with my Mum and to practice as we worked, even the birds joined in with my singing:)  they especially enjoyed “There’s a worm at the bottom of the garden and his name is Wiggly Woo”

I love the flowers in my Mum’s garden, and always did as a child. Both of my Grandfather’s enjoy growing their own vegetables and tending to their flowers so gardening has always been a family affair for me. I’m sure that is what inspires me to wear such colourful clothes as it always reminds me of my childhood and brings a smile to my face.

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Nasty Weeds

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As You Can See There Were A Lot Of Them

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I Cant Believe That Dad Let Me Loose On The Mower

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Dead Heading The Pots

Don’t ask me what the names of any of the flowers are but aren’t colours fabulous:)  I hope this little bit of an English summer brings a smile to your face as it certainly made me happy.

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Last Saturday, the 2nd July George Todica and I were asked if we could perform a recital in support of the Pendsey Trust by my friend Jane Froehlich. Lucy Laycock, Jane’s Godchild has been raising money for the charity and Jane suggested to her that a small recital may be an excellent way to raise some money.

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Jane Froehlich, Me and George Todica

The Pendsey Trust raises money to help educate children in India who have type 1 diabetes. The cost of the insulin needed by these children is so expensive for their families that many of them do not survive into adulthood. Whilst in India in 2011 Lucy interviewed an Indian doctor, Dr Pendsey, who explained the problem and what he was doing to help. Dr Pendesy, believed that by providing financial scholarships to educate the children they could find better jobs, which in turn would help them to fund their own medication and go on to have a healthy and happier future. On her return to England, Lucy along with three others established the charitable trust and through the trust continue to raise awareness of the problem along with well needed funds.

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Both George and I were happy to be able to help out and had a lovely evening. It was a real treat to meet everyone and chat during the interval and after the performance. Jane felt that the evening was a real success and has already been asked if she intends to host another recital .

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Following my post about my graduation I received so many lovely comments, I would like to thank each and every one of you for your tireless support and heart felt encouragement. I cannot tell you how much it means to me, knowing that so many of you are willing me on, it is such a huge boost.

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I have several projects on the go at the moment and I can’t wait to share them with you over the summer. My Dad has managed to prepare a couple of the videos from my recent performance of Zerlina in Don Giovanni which I wanted to share with you. The first is “Giovinette Che Fate All’Amore” and the second is “Vedrai Carino”, these were fun to perform and I hope that you enjoy them.