This has been a very eventful week, rehearsals have been blossoming with energy and imagination as we experiment with how to block ‘Bambino’. Our wonderful director Phelim McDermott uses a fantastic method which allows us to combine the qualities of improvisation and movement, to act instinctively and tell the story. It has been wonderful to work in this way as it is full of freedom.
I had my second costume fitting, which is beautiful and I am very excited and I can’t wait to see it when it is finished! I’m not sure how much I can reveal just yet, but there are feathers! I can’t wait to get to wear it next week. We also had the pleasure to invite some babies along to our rehearsal on Thursday, for this, we focused on the music and performed it in a concert format. In rehearsals leading up to an opera there is a session where the cast and the orchestra finally come together to play through the score, this is known as a ‘Sitzprobe’ It was great fun to think that Bambino’s ‘Sitzprobe’ included babies who would be able to openly react to our music making and decide whether it was enjoyable. Luckily, we had no crying! but we did have the occasional singing along which was adorable. Next week we have our dress rehearsal and preview performances. I can’t wait. It’s getting very exciting.
As the week progressed it did get me thinking though on how important these education programmes are to the future of Opera. Finding interesting and innovative ways to connect with a new audience is so important for any Opera House and there are many now which are fully involved taking opera out into their local community. Scottish Opera, for example, take opera out and about using a converted articulated trailer. This version of a pop-up opera allows small taster shows to be hosted in a much wider area and introduce the artistry and storytelling of opera to those that want to give it a try.
Through the Connect Company, with whom I performed in “The Walk From The Garden”, Scottish Opera provide a programme of classes for teenagers throughout the year culminating in a fully staged production. The connect company allows both instrumentalists and singers the chance to work with some amazing coaches and learn about what makes opera such a vibrant and absorbing art form. This also introduces the families of the students to the intricacies of a live performance and encourages them to maybe go along and watch one of Scottish Opera’s main stage productions.
There is also a programme ‘Opera for Schools’ which provides primary school teachers with educational activities along with a full day of immersive participation which ends with a performance for friends and family. I would have loved to have been a part of one of these days when I was at primary school.
These are just some of the ways that Scottish Opera are trying to broaden the appeal of opera within the wider Scottish Community and I am excited to be a small part of it. It is the responsibility of all of us who wish work in this wonderful industry to help where we can to explain why we love it so much and with our passion and enthusiasm encourage as many people as possible to give it try.