I have some truly amazing news to share with you, last week I entered the Pendine International Voice of the Future competition at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod in Wales, UK. If you remember I last entered the competition back in 2014  when I came third. This year I was thrilled to reach the final, which was held on Wednesday 4th July 2018, during the Classical Collection concert on the main Pavillion stage.  My fellow finalists were Rachael Marsh from Wrexham and Mark Christian Bautista of Calamba in the Philippines, who along with myself were selected from the live preliminary round held the previous day.

It was such a thrill to walk out on to the grand stage and perform in front of the large assembled audience, adjudicators, patrons and sponsors. I can’t easily express the emotion that ran through my body as Nico de Villiers the pianist who accompanied me started to play. I sang through my programme and left the stage in what seemed like the blink of an eye, I then re-joined my fellow competitors as we waited for the results to be announced, the atmosphere at the Eisteddfod was lovely.

The results were announced after the concert starring Vicky Yannoula and Peter Jablonski followed by beautiful choral singing from the Cantorion Sirenian Singers and I am thrilled to let you know that I was awarded the first prize of £6,000.00 and new silver Pendine Trophy, awarded by Mr. Mario Kreft MBE of the Pendine Park care organisation.

Mr Kreft MBE awarding me the Pendine trophy

Mr Kreft MBE said:

 “I believe we have seen a star born this evening as Charlotte Hoather’s performance was simply breath-taking and spectacularly talented.”

The festival’s music director, Vicky Yannoula said :

“The standard of performance we witnessed from all three finalists was exceptional…singing in a competition such as the Pendine International Voice of the Future competition isn’t just about standing in front of a piano and singing, it’s about a performance.”

This award will be such a great help to me as I start my first year as freelance as it will help cover some of my living costs, additional singing lessons, and coachings that I require to continue vocal development and language skills, I also need to attend auditions both here and abroad.

At the end of the concert, we all joined in to participate with The Big NHS Singalong Live which was shown on ITV to help celebrate 70 years of the NHS.

It is hard to believe that this wonderful journey started with my introduction to the wonders of classical singing by my first singing teacher, Jayne Wilson when at Knutsford High school.  She encouraged me to enter festivals and competitions to perform new repertoire and introduce me to other singers and their teachers, and I can’t wait to see her again when I’m next at home.  If you’ve followed my blog you’ve read the journey and adventures along the way I couldn’t do this without the help of many wonderful teachers, coaches and advisors, thank you all too for your continual encouragement and support.

Accompanist: Nico De Villiers

Adjudicators:  Leah Marian Jones , Dr. Anastasia Belina

After completing the first run through of Candide with Surrey Opera last Thursday evening, I hastily returned home full of excitement for the day to follow. Friday began with an early start, checking my bags, which I had carefully packed the previous morning and downloading my pre-ordered train ticket for Buxton. Where I would have the pleasure of performing alongside my friends in the Tideswell Male Voice Choir in Tideswell, Derbyshire.

The weather was fabulous and made for a lovely journey from London to the Peak District, with its amazing views of the picturesque Towns and Villages.  George Todica, who was to accompany me for the concert, had traveled down from Glasgow and luckily without delay, which ensured that we both arrived in Stockport within ten minutes of each other, ready to catch the train to Buxton together.

Malcolm and Alison Bennison with Me before the concert

We were met at the station in Buxton by Malcolm and Alison Bennison who had kindly agreed to drive us the final 20 minutes to the Village.  Malcolm had arranged for the choir to perform an afternoon concert for the residents of Nicholson Court, a care home in the village, as many could not make it along to the evening performance. This concert was to celebrate the newly refurbished interior of the home. He asked if George and I would like to perform with them, we happily agreed, so our first stop was at Nicolson Court.

It was lovely to have the chance to sing for the residents, who were so friendly and made us feel really welcome.  It was lovely when talking to them after the concert to hear how music had touched their lives in so many different ways. After a light lunch, it was time for a sound check in the Church before getting changed for the evening performance.

Tideswell Church

Tideswell Village

It was a warm evening with clear blue skies, such a difference from my last visit when the heavens opened and poured continuously during the concert.  Nick Montague, the choir’s music director welcomed the audience and set the tone for the evening, which was friendly and relaxed.  Nick is the new music director for the choir and also directs a ladies choir called the Knutsford Star Choir in Knutsford where I went to school.

The choir’s programme included a wide variety of songs such as Anthem, Let it Be Me, What a Wonderful World and an amazing rendition of Right Said Fred ornamented with props and percussive instruments to add to the joyful atmosphere. Their performances were full of heart and sang with enthusiasm and panache.  They were skilfully accompanied throughout the evening by pianist Alison Wheeldon.

The Choir Singing Right Said Fred

Altogether After The Concert, the only person missing is Edwina Currie ( who was taking a picture too )

If you get the opportunity to go and watch the choir perform I would thoroughly recommend it, I believe they are going to provide some of the onboard entertainment on a Fred Olsen cruise to Scandinavia so if you happen to be on the same cruise you are in for a treat.

If you are from the local area and would like to try your hand at singing in the choir then you could go along to one of their rehearsals, which happen on a Tuesday evening from 7:30 pm at the old grammar school in Tideswell or give Thomas Eccles a call on 01298 872800.

I had an amazing time catching up Edwina Currie, the choir’s President, spending time with my friends and making some new ones, I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and I hope that I get to sing with the choir again in the future.  I wish them all every success in their future performances and I hope they continue to enjoy singing these beautiful songs as much as we all enjoyed listening to them.

Me With Maurice Hargreaves, a good friend, and an excellent singer

As I sign off tonight I do so in fond remembrance of my friend John Richie, he was a member of the choir for 30 years, a very talented musician whom I met at the Hazel Grove Music festival when I first started to sing seriously. His constant encouragement and kind words will always be remembered.

You can listen to my music on :

Rehearsals for Candide by Surrey Opera are now well underway. The scenes are starting to slot together like jigsaw pieces, and I’m looking forward to the coming week to finalise the blocking, (the setting of movements, character’s intentions and gestures) for the last few scenes.

It has been a real joy to explore the arc of Cunegonde’s growth through this process. She begins the operetta as the adolescent school girl, who is the daughter of a Baron and Baroness, she lives in a grand home surrounded by love and the comfort provided by wealth. Cunegonde is taught by Dr. Pangloss that ‘this is the best of all possible worlds’. A philosophy that the play questions dramatically throughout.

After Pangloss’s lesson, Cunegonde experiences the instant chemistry between her and Candide, which begins to bud and blossom into a sweet first love. However, the first love duet is quite humorous as they both list their desires for the future, without really listening to the other. If they had paid attention, they would have realised their dreams were quite dissimilar. If this was a different story, perhaps they would have had a discussion, found a comprise and lived happily ever after.

But sadly, that is not the case, this love story is interrupted by the horrors of war with their lives turned upside down, Cunegonde, now orphaned and without the means to support herself, is taken to Paris where she is shared between two men. Her innocence is quickly stripped away and she must learn how to survive using only her instincts, clouding the emotional heartache with her blinding optimism. These chaotic occurrences are interspersed with moments of hope each time her path crosses again with Candide. Unfortunately, time and time again she has to fend for herself and use her womanly wiles in order to survive.

Jumping to the end, in order to not spoil the plot too much. Just before the finale, Candide finds Cunegonde in a Casino in Venice, attending to the needs of the Male visitors and is appalled by what he sees. He asks in his aria if this is what he’s been fighting for and if her soul is dead. It is a heart-wrenching moment as Cunegonde decides whether to interject or if it’s better to stay silent knowing the awful situations she has lived through in hope that they would meet again and reunite their relationship. It is her strength at this moment that helped me to understand her character more deeply and realise the sincerity of her love for Candide.

It is a very complex story with multiple twist and turns, I do hope that I bring her character to life and do her story justice.  I can’t wait to work alongside my brilliants colleagues in the coming weeks as we finally get to perform at the Minack Theatre, Cornwall

You can listen to my music on :

A Blast From The Past

June 17, 2018 — 41 Comments

On the 29th June 2018, I am excited to be singing again with my friends from the Tideswell Male Voice Choir. It is quite a special moment for me as it will be my last concert as a student before graduating from the Royal College of Music on the 6th July 2018. The concert will be held at St John the Baptist Church, Tideswell at 7:30 pm.

St John The Baptist Church, Tideswell

I remember fondly first meeting Maurice Hargreaves and John Richie, members of the choir when I first competed in the Hazel Grove Music festival back in 2009.  It was my first time in the festival competition and they were so supportive and encouraging and made the day extra special for me.

Prizes From My Time At The Hazel Grove Music Festival

Having had such a great time, I decided to come back the following year and enter even more classes.  This gave me the opportunity to expand my repertoire and improve my performance skills and develop friendships. So, when I was invited to sing with the Tideswell Male Voice Choir at the Romiley Forum on the 18th August 2012 you can imagine how excited I was.

My First Performance In Romiley With Tideswell Male Voice Choir

Over the years that followed I continued my association with the choir and found the camaraderie of the members so encouraging, it was always a thrill to perform alongside them.  With performances at St John’s Church, Gawsworth Hall, Stockport Plaza,  and the Buxton Opera House in 2013 and 2014.

So when I return to Tideswell on the 29th June it will be a time to catch up with old friends, make some new ones, and create new memories to carry with me over the years to come.

St John The Baptist Church, Tideswell, 2013 Hosted By Edwina Currie

Singing With The Choir At Gawsworth Hall

Never Forget Remembrance Concert With The Choir, Buxton Opera House 2014

 

Here in the UK, it is Father’s Day today and I want to wish my Dad a wonderful Father’s Day and hope that all the Dad’s out there have a fabulous day too.

 

You can listen to my music on :

Waterperry Opera Festival

I would like to announce that the Box office for Waterperry Opera Festival, located a stone’s throw from Oxford, is now open. I will be participating in the company’s inaugural production of Mansfield Park, a chamber opera in two Acts by Jonathan Dove, based on the novel by Jane Austen. The performances will take place on the 18th and 19th August 2018 at 2pm. The ticket will also include access to the splendid Waterperry Gardens where you can explore the estate, with its Riverside walk, numerous gardens, Medieval Church, Museum and much more. I am looking forward to trying an afternoon tea and the homemade cakes in their Tea shop between rehearsals.

In the opera, I will perform the role of Maria Bertram, who is the eldest daughter of Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram. Fanny Price the novel’s protagonist, is Maria’s cousin, yet their relationship isn’t a close one.

Mansfield Park

During this snapshot of her life, Maria is engaged to Mr. Rushworth, an eligible match due to his wealth and property. However, Maria finds him tedious and his conversations dull. In contrast, she admires Henry Crawford, with whom after much flirtation, she falls in love. However, at times he is quite manipulative and uses her interest for his own gain and unfortunately, he does not love her back.

I’m looking forward to playing Maria Bertram as she is quite confident, at times arrogant, and her rebellious nature finds her in situations that cause a few scandals. Perhaps not always likable, but her involvement in the story allows us to glimpse the restrictions women dealt with during this period and how ‘ill’ choices can lead to a ruined reputation and being shunned by society.

I won’t continue to discuss the story in detail, in case you would like to read the novel that the opera is based on. I would certainly recommend it or perhaps listen to an audiobook. I particularly enjoyed BBC4’s dramatisation of the novel with David Tennant, Felicity Jones, and Benedict Cumberbatch performing.

I am on the lookout for a visual dramatisation of the novel at the moment so that I can study appropriate movements and gestures as well as fill my imagination with settings, costumes, and objects of the period. If you would like to share any personal insights I would be very interested to hear your voices.

UPDATE: Only 15 tickets left for the performance on Saturday 18th August.

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The first week of rehearsals for Candide with Surrey Opera has started with a bang! I am working alongside such talented colleagues and I look forward to sharing the rehearsal process with you over the coming weeks, I’d like to try to get some photographs but its always difficult if you’re in the middle of the lively action.

 

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You can listen to all my albums recorded in 2014 and 2016 on these popular streaming services, this will help me to keep up my singing and coaching training now I’m cut loose from the college environment, thanks in advance for any help you can give me by taking a listen:

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Glitter And Be Gay

June 5, 2018 — 59 Comments

Hello everyone wishing you all a happy June. I’d like to start this week by thanking the fantastically talented George Todica who unleashed his brilliance on piano during my final recital at the Royal College of Music and kept me calm and sane in the days before the performance on Monday morning, even suggesting using print shop when my trusty printer wouldn’t work on Sunday!

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Me and George Todica After My Recital

I had to dash off after the performance and a quick lunch with friends and family to Croydon on the other side of London to start rehearsals with Surrey Opera https://www.surreyopera.org/  for their production of Bernstein’s ‘Candide’ and my role as Cunegonde.  I’d spent some time getting the role ready before the rehearsals and with the agreement of my brilliant singing teacher Rosa Mannion and awesome coach Simon Lepper I put ‘Glitter and Be Gay’ as the final aria in my recital which after 40 minutes of near continuous singing was quite a high note to ask my voice to end on!

Bernstein was mentioned in the conductor Marin Alsop’s interview I’d read when I was reading up on Women in Music, he was her mentor and teacher. She credited him with this piece of advice ‘morality is very simple and based on human diversity, tolerance and about what we all strive to be. Be yourself, do not seek to be somebody else, but be the very best of who you are’ that’s all I sought to be in my recital.

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Rosa Mannion and Me

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Anyhow, a bit about Cunegonde and Candide for you if you’ve not heard of this Operetta.  The score was written by the American author, composer, conductor, lecturer in music and pianist Leonard Bernstein in 1956.  The story is based on the 1759 Voltaire novella of the same name, Cunegonde is the daughter of a Baron from the Country of Westphalia, a region in North West Germany.  When war breaks out Westphalia is destroyed and her family murdered.  Cunegonde is thought to be dead but she turns up in Paris, France with her duenna (chaperone).  She has fallen into the role of a demimonde (a woman supported or exploited by wealthy men) shared by a Grand Inquisitor and a wealthy Jew.

Candide is in love with Cunegonde, the daughter in the house where he is brought up.  Dr. Pangloss, their tutor, teaches them that everything in this world is for the best, part of God’s universal plan.  Candide is then tested in a knockabout series of unfortunate events to test this theory.  He is expelled from the Baron’s home, press-ganged into the army, is told Cunegonde is dead and meets Pangloss, together they survive an earthquake, are captured by the Holy Inquisition, and finally Pangloss is hanged.  When he is reunited with Cungonde, he kills her new lovers and they flee to South America where she is sold into slavery.  After many adventures, he returns to Venice where he finds Cunegonde in a completely fallen state, a whore in a gambling casino.  Finally disillusioned, he realizes that the world is neither good nor bad but what we make of it.

The cast is lovely, my role is dual cast and it’s going to be great getting to know Lizzie Holmes.  The direction is clear and very well organised. We will be performing this summer (praying for good weather) at the magnificent Minack Theatre on the clifftops of Porthcurno in Cornwall from 16th to 20th July 2018.  The tickets are £14/£10 Adults and £7/£5 for under 16’s great value for this crazy romantic comedy full of wonderful music.

Minack Theatre During The Day

Minack Theatre By Day

 

Minack Theatre At Night

Minack Theatre By Night

 

Surrey Opera receive no regular funding for their productions and are reliant on sponsors and fundraising to help finance the shows as ticket sales alone rarely cover the costs of putting on their lavish productions.  You can join their supporters club and take advantage of their packages starting with a Bronze membership with an annual fee of £30 giving you a newsletter, priority booking, programme listing and invitations to Surrey Opera’s fundraising events.

Sadly I missed a couple of my friend’s recitals on Monday but I’m hoping to watch a few of my colleagues at the RCM this afternoon and during breaks this week.

Every evening though for the next month I’ll have my head stuck in the score whilst developing my characterisation throughout the days, there is a lot of singing it’s a chunky role that I’m really looking forward to performing.

In The Dressing Room

On Tuesday, 22nd May I participated in my last opera scene at the Royal College of Music. It was so much fun and I learned so much from the process and from watching my talented peers.

Marcella di Garbo and Charlotte Hoather

Me and Marcella di Garbo

I sang the role of Governess alongside Marcella di Garbo as the ghostly Miss Jessel.

Henry James who wrote The Turn of the Screw in 1897 lived at that time in Sussex in a big Country house. He was interested in ‘spiritual phenomena’. Telling ghost stories at the time was a tradition during the Christmas holiday festivities. James had been told an anecdote by the archbishop of Canterbury of a couple of young children haunted by ghosts of a pair of servants who wish them ill. In the story the evil spirits of Miss Jessel the previous governess and Peter Quint formerly the valet try to lure the children to their deaths to get their souls.

The ghosts in the story are only visible to the Governess. Are the ghosts a figment of her neurotic imagination or is she the plucky saviour of her charges from damnation? This decision is usually left to the audience member to decide.

A new challenge that we both had to face together was singing in corsets for the first time. This is because our Director Stuart Barker placed our scene from Turn of the Screw in the middle of the nineteenth century, (fitting the original plot). It was fashionable at this time to wear a corset underneath your blouse/dress. Corsets during this period were shaped like an hourglass but were made longer to cover the hips. Luckily for singers, modern corset designs became more flexible, with less boning. This allows for a little more movement when breathing, but still, we have to adapt to the obvious restrictions still maintained by the design.

Marcella di Garbo and Charlotte Hoather On Stage 02

Marcell di Garbo and Me ( Photo Taken By Stuart Barker )

To make this work for me I had to be sure that I didn’t breathe out during my fitting, although I must admit that is was very tempting at the time. Luckily my singing teacher Rosa had warned me to take in a big breath during the fitting so that the corset allows for the expansion of the rib cage which is so important when singing.

Marcella di Garbo and Charlotte Hoather On Stage 01

When wearing a corset some movements become more restrictive such as bending over, (I was very careful not to drop any props!) and when changing levels from standing to sitting.  This was very interesting and luckily our wonderful costume mistress Alice Lessing allowed us to take the corsets to our stage rehearsals to practice. In keeping with this theme, Alice recommended to us to put our shoes and tights on before being fitted into the corset, as bending down to do them afterward is quite a task. This proved a very handy tip!

Charlotte Hoather On Stage 02

( Photo Taken By Stuart Barker )

I personally found singing in a corset quite helpful, it encouraged me to sit and stand upright helping me to maintain good poise and posture. It also gave my character a sense of control and seniority, which was useful as I wanted to depict my character as a strong and determined Governess who could be trusted to look after the children of the house. The corset also gave me something to feel, as I could sense my muscles expanding and contracting during my vocal line helping me to focus on supporting my breath evenly, which in turn helps to create a sustained legato line. All in all, it was a very valuable lesson and one that has given even more to think about when performing in costume.

But don’t get me wrong, I was quite happy to take it off during my breaks from the performance and I’m glad that they are no longer a staple of modern fashion.

In the scene the ghost of Miss Jessel actually appears in my school room from outside along the passages and the stairwell. ‘The room is mine, the children are mine, be gone you horrible, terrible woman!’ I then take up my pen to write of my concerns to the guardian of the children telling him I have something I must tell him about even though he has warned me not to disturb him.

Charlotte Hoather Claire Swale and Barbara Job

Me, Claire Swale, and Barbara Job backstage

Charlotte Hoather and Pianist Luch Colquhoun

Me with the amazing piano accompanist Lucy Colquhoun

 

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Esme Hurlburt, Davidona Pittock, and Me

 

On Friday, I participated in an evening of opera scenes along with my fellow students at the Royal College of Music. I had a lot of fun taking on the character of the ‘Controller’ in Flight and it was very exciting – but nerve-wracking as I had to sing a top F in a public performance for the first time. It was a great challenge, but one that I enjoyed immensely.

It was lovely to see so many friends, colleagues, and family in the audience. I was especially happy to see my dear friends Hilary, Edwin, and Norman and it was lovely to be able to see them after the performance and share this experience with them.

These productions would not be the same without all the help that we get from Costume, Wigs, Hair, Makeup, and all the technical staff, and of course not forgetting the fabulous musicians who play for each of the scenes.

 

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Hannah Crerar and Me In The Changing Room ( Photo Julieth Lozano )

 

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Julieth Lozano and Me

 

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The Whole Cast  ( Photo Julieth Lozano )

 

 

 

Our next set of scenes are on this coming Tuesday at 5:30 pm in the Britten Theatre at the RCM.

On Monday 4th June at 11:10, I will perform my final recital of my Masters of Performance. The recital will take place in the Recital Hall at Royal College of Music. It would be lovely to see as many friendly faces in the audience as possible, so if you are in the area please come along. Entrance to the performance will be free, but because it is an exam please arrive early. George Todica will be accompanying me and we will be performing pieces by Massenet, Gustav Mahler, Lliam Paterson, Grieg, and Bernstein.

 

Summer Opera Scenes

May 13, 2018 — 50 Comments

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On Friday 18th May 2018 at 17:30 pm I will be the Controller in a scene from ‘Flight’ at the Royal College of Music, the scene will be directed by William Relton and conducted by Peter Selwyn.  Flight is an English opera with music by Jonathan Dove, who also wrote ‘A Walk from the Garden’ that I performed for Scottish Opera Connect three years ago, playing the role of Eve. The libretto (text) for ‘Flight’ was written by April De Angelis.

‘Flight’ had its premiere mainstage performance at Glyndebourne Festival Opera in 1999.  The inspiration for the story was from the true-life story of an Iranian refugee Nasseri who lived at Charles de Gaulle Airport unable to exit the terminal.  Did you watch the 2004 Spielberg film with Tom Hanks called ‘The Terminal’ that was also based on Nasseri story stuck in terminal one in a Paris airport for 18 years, from 1988 to 2006, without any passport and documents?  It never ceases to amaze me how life is often stranger than fiction. I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently in airport lounges listening to Controllers and soaking in the atmosphere, watching and waiting, and worked on the score to try to get it off copy (learned off the score) ready for rehearsals this past week.

Dove said, “Some of the characters were based on personal experience”. For example, Dove once made a difficult journey to an airport during a rail strike to meet a “Significant Person” who never showed, a similar situation that happens to the Older Woman in the production.

He also made the mistake of thinking that a floundering relationship would be rectified by an overseas trip, like Bill and Tina. And he once sat with two people who were starting a new life in another country, which pops in with Minskman and Minskwoman.

“I think we had the feeling that the airport was potentially a kind of microcosm, with lighter elements.” He said.

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Carly Owen As The Governess and Me as Flora, From January 2017

On Tuesday 22nd May 2018 at 17:30pm, I will play the Governess in a scene from ‘The Turn of the Screw’, this was the Britten opera that was my first opera scene at the Royal College of Music when I performed the role of the child ‘Flora’ in the Britten Theatre so it’s fitting that it will be my last scene.  I did quite comprehensive research last year so I got out all my old notes and references to get into the new character, this is a fabulous opportunity to expand my work on this great opera. The score is very tricky.  I’ve enjoyed working with Marcella Di Garbo, who plays Miss Jessel, since my return to London. The scene is being directed by Stuart Barker who directed my scene from the ‘Dialogue of the Carmelites’ so it’s lovely to work with him again and the ever-wonderful Michael Lloyd conducting, with Lucy Colquhoun on piano.  Tickets for both events are free but require booking ( Click Here )

I will try and get some photos of both casts this week to share with you all.

My Week At The Met

May 6, 2018 — 71 Comments

This past week I was introduced to and worked alongside some wonderfully gifted people who made my week at the Metropolitan Opera House extra special, I will always remember their generosity, encouragement, and enthusiasm. Their individual commitment was truly inspiring and I will treasure these memories in the years to come.

The Education team: Marsha, Dan, and Angela were super hosts to the BambinO team and I enjoyed chatting with them and sharing some amazing times. They made us all feel like part of their family, providing us with tickets to the opera, pre-show parties, introduced us to some great Mexican food, and gave recommendations for things to enjoy in the city. One of their key duties as a department is creating the Education Guides for Schools that accompany each of the seasons’ performances put on at the Met. I was thrilled to find out that these guides are available for free online. If you want to learn a little more about a particular opera or use them in the classroom check them out here:

Education Department

There is also an option to check the archives and see opera education packs from previous seasons. They are well worth a read!

During the week we reached our 100th Performance of BambinO and it was great to have everyone there to celebrate it.  It was quite a milestone made extra special by the performance being at the Met !!

 

100th Bambino Show

After Our 100th Performance !!

 

During my time in New York, I explored the city mostly by foot with the occasional trip on the subway. I was invited to go and observe a panel discussion on music and early childhood development, between the creators of Bambino and faculty members from the Rita Gold Early Childhood Centre, Columbia University Teachers College. It was both interesting and exciting that professors were exploring the effect of the work that we were doing. The panel discussion was held in the super swish Norwood Club, a private members club for Artists and Creatives in the heart of New York City. We were lucky enough to meet the owner Alan Linn who warmly welcomed us and encouraged us to enjoy the artwork and the themes to each floor of the building. As we climbed the flights of the stairs on our way to venue space on the top floor, it felt like I was walking through the looking glass in Alice and Wonderland.

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The Norwood Club – New York

One of the greatest perks of working for the Metropolitan Opera House were the invitations to attend the opera performances as their guest.  This made for a wonderful week as I was able to watch three Operas: Roméo & Juliette, Lucia di Lammermoor, and Cendrillon all with supreme casts, telling stories with scintillating singing, in wonderful costumes, portrayed on amazing sets.

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Roméo & Juliette

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Lucia di Lammermoor

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Cendrillon

My favourite was Cendrillon. I loved the outlandish costumes! In particular the red costumes for the female chorus in the ball. This was because each character was given a different style of dress, that was crazily elaborate. One had a bustle like a rooster, another had enormous horns like a maniacal princess and many, many more. James, the head of costume at the Met, told me that the performers were given the stage direction to focus on the fact that they thought they were beautiful – fit for a prince – and that these dresses were the best they had available. Rather than play up to the hilarity of their character’s image. This worked really well from an audience’s point of view. Other elements were punctuated with farce and comedy and the outstanding singing contributed to a wonderful evening. The set design for Cendrillon was particularly thrilling, and it’s magical appearance brought this iconic fairy-tale to life.  Although the performances throughout were stunning I thought that Joyce DiDonato’s interpretation of Cinderella was simply fabulous, her singing was sublime and her stage presence was charming and witty and she had me enticed throughout.

Joyce DiDonato withTeam BambinO

Back Row : Lliam Paterson, Laura Sergeant, and Stuart Semple Front Row: Me, Joyce DiDonato, and Timothy Connor

So, can you imagine my reaction when I discovered that Joyce DiDonato had come to watch a performance of BambinO with her family on Friday afternoon, to see her in the audience was quite surreal.

BambinO Cartoon

I’ve tried to stay awake as much as possible today in London after a night flight to try to readjust to British Time and I’d just like to thank my very best friends for coming to my help and entertaining me all day.