There Is A Future For Opera

Blog Post 25th June 2017_pp

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.


Bambino Cast
The Cast Of ‘BambinO’ : Stuart Semple, Timothy Connor, Laura Sergeant and Me



Picture From The Rehearsals ( MIF Twitter )


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.

50 thoughts on “There Is A Future For Opera

    1. I’ve been raised to believe in everything magical from dragons to unicorns and tooth fairies so I can still see the magic everywhere from behind waterfalls to the looks of wonder on babies faces.
      Thanks and best wishes Annette,

    1. They are fabulous bird toys, wish we could give them to the babies at the end of the shows but we only have what we need. I believe they’re from the RSPB. There are some photos on my Facebook I’m going to put a link in to my post tonight.
      Best wishes

  1. I am not an expert on opera but as long as music is funded in schools and there is exposure to the genre then it has a chance. Opera should be available to everyone no matter their economic status. Your next great star is probably in a place in the country waiting to find their calling.

    1. Most of my access to music was through school courses but we had to pay extra for singing and instrument 30 min lessons. There are lots of low cost ways to access opera and classical concerts with social media available now hopefully we can start to widen audiences. I agree there are lots of skilful people in training and that have completed in most cases 8 years graduate training.
      Best wishes

  2. Sounds so exciting, I’m sure the children will love listening , to and watching you all. Good luck. I can’t wait to see your costumes .xx

  3. It sounds like you had lot of fun last week. I really like to see babies’ reaction to the music that you performed. I think that would be fun and funny to watch.

  4. You certainly have the drive and enthusiasm to do great things, Charlotte! I wish you well in your endeavor. It sounds like a fascinating show. Best wishes for a wonderful performance, hugs xx

  5. Absolutely lovely, sounds so exciting. I can’t wait for your next instalment on how it’s all progressing, and I would have loved to see the babies reaction, it must be really rewarding to see them joining in. 😘

  6. Wow, very interesting and good. Congratulation Charlotte, you always think about the future and how to share your passion !! Very proud of you my dear ! Take care and have a great week ! best tought !

    1. No point in keep looking back we have to move forward as well as preserving the core traditions and values. Thank you and hope you’re enjoying your holiday.
      Best wishes

  7. Opera, [music as a whole], museums and history (IMO) have always gone hand-in-hand for centuries. It will always be considered a large part of elite culture.

    1. It has yes, for years though it was part of the popular culture that working people would regularly enjoy, it is very skilful though and a high art form but everyone should feel comfortable to go and see it.
      Best wishes

  8. Good morning Charlotte (or good afternoon to you there in the UK) and I thank you for the post.

    My youngest son is worship arts and church music major at his university and has been cast as Dr Falke in Strauss’ Die Fledermaus to be performed in the spring of 2018. His program alternates in the spring semester between an opera and a musical (“Into the Woods” was performed this past spring and he was Prince Charming) so I was very glad to read about your view that Opera has a future. My son may not do opera professionally but to have the experience and training is a wonderful thing!

    Best wishes and God’s blessings on you and your work this summer!


    1. How exciting for your son Jim I hope he thoroughly enjoys the role and performances and that you get to see him. I wish him the best in the route he chooses. Sondheim is complicated music theatre and Into the Woods can be a difficult sing – I learnt the witches solo for competition once.
      Best wishes

  9. Dear Charlotte,
    I am sure so much of your success in Bambino that this Opera will award you the best actress for being in it. Keep up the good work, for you are changing lives around the globe.

    1. If I’m lucky to keep making the babies and children happy that is rewarding enough for me. I’m having a thoroughly good time, everyday smiling and being smiled at what could be better 😁.
      Best wishes

  10. Lovely!! Our grade school once took us to downtown LA to see Madame Butterfly. (That was so long ago, maybe it was Madame Caterpillar.) I’m glad we had some early exposure to opera, even briefly.

    1. I’m glad you got early exposure to opera too. I was walking in Glasgow after one of the preview showings and a couple of the Mums pushing the babies recognised me out of costume and smiled and waved that was just lovely, they’d told me they enjoyed the performance too.
      Best wishes

  11. Happy to see you participating in some of the educational community activities. So many people feel that opera is not for them (too posh or because so much of classic opera is in another language). Showing the modern relevance of opera would be an incredible achievement for any theater company.

    1. I’ve had so many people ask if I’m singing nursery rhymes and are shocked when I say the operatic score was written specially for this production and is very complex and even uses baby language and Italian, we have a cello and percussionist on stage with us that really fascinates some of the babies too. People like to climb social ladders I hope that classical music one is one they find easy to climb.
      Best wishes

  12. Here the arts are under attack by the people who have seized our government. It is now up to the parents to provide exposure to them, including opera. Things are so different for you there, that you would probably have a hard time making a comparison. Obviously, for the voice, there is no higher musical form than opera. Thank you so much for all you are doing to keep it fresh and exciting.

    1. The tickets for this show at the Manchester International Festival are great value in fact my friend and her baby couldn’t get tickets in the main venue because they were sold out quickly so she is coming to Wigan to see the show. It has taken three full weeks to learn the music, score and movement it’s been innovative and intense and I’ve loved every minute. Lovely to hear your thoughts Beth I fear for cost cutting to music here too.
      Best wishes

  13. It sounds as though you’re having a very full but wonderful time, Charlotte, and learning a lot of new skills. Bambino is sure to be fabulous. Can’t wait to see you in feathers (as well as the rest of the costume, of course. Lol ) So good to hear about the efforts made by companies like Scottish Opera in taking opera out to the community. As someone commented above, opera should be accessible to all levels of society. And school kids always love to take part in such visits. Your photos are lovely and I’ve probably commented before on how photogenic you are.

      1. From what I’ve seen in your posts about the fun you all have in your performances, I imagine you’d keep even little ones enthralled. 🙂

  14. An opera for babies and toddlers. What a great idea. Many years ago, the Minnesota Opera put on HANSEL & GRETEL at Christmas time. A huge production! They wanted to compete with Mn Dance’s NUTCRACKER, another huge production. Played a month for 3 years. Now while I enjoy the H&G opera, nobody can ever explain to me why that violent story should be considered a childrens’ opera, especially as Christmas entertainment.
    Mn Opera made up for using it as family entertain by mounting an opera of WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, with Maurice Sendak, himself working as adviser. Nice man!
    But still an opera for babies. I wish I could work it.

    1. I’ve played Gretel you’re right it’s often done at Christmas and can be quite dark. The Prayer is one of my favourite duets. I think it’s just as it’s a children’s opera, in the U.K. We tend to have pantomimes but I’d guess H&G are a good reminder to children to be good 😀 at a time of year they can get dizzy with too many sweeties.

      I love the Nutcracker ballet. I must look up Where the Wild Things Are. You’d love this little tour I’m sure, there are some photos on my Facebook now, link down the side of my blog.
      Best wishes

  15. Really interested in how you block for an opera. Umm, guess it’s like filmmaking too. So excited for you, Charlotte. You really have lots going for you. All the best! We here in Canada just finishing up our Canada Day today, July 1, celebrating our 150th birthday. Prince Charles and Camilla are in Canada now. 🙂

    1. Congrats for yesterday hope you and your family had a wonderful day. My day finished early before lunch after our last performance yesterday before we take our show to the Manchester International Festival on Monday, so I have nearly two full days off, I’ll have to have some waffle and maple syrup to celebrate your Canada Day 😊. I’m working with a great team, I’ve interviewed one of the two designers for my blog – I love listening to how creative people make a life for themselves in this insecure industry.

      Best wishes Arti

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: