Mansfield Park – Reheasals Underway

Post 5th August 2018

Walk Past

Since graduating from the Royal College of Music at the beginning of July my summer has been full of new experiences.

This week rehearsals for Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park have started with gusto. The production for the Waterperry Opera Festival began rehearsals on Thursday 2nd August in London, led by our director Rebecca Meltzer. We began the process by exploring our characters, the social hierarchy, our character’s desires, and their relationships with the other characters throughout the opera. I found this exploration on the first day very useful because you learn how the others (characters) view your character and how each actor/actress has filled the gaps in their personal narrative. This then allowed me to build on my initial interpretation of Maria Bertram and inspired me to craft specific details to develop the character so that it becomes more sympathetic to the characters portrayed by the other cast members.

As a company, we began to plot out the staging for the opening scenes. Due to the complexity of the score, we began this by stepping away from the music and delivering our text like a play. This helped us to find the natural fluidity of the conversation which later influenced our musical interpretation. It also allowed me to develop layering to assist in my memory building. I learned where my positions were, my actions and movements, where the person I was talking to was positioned. Securing this level of information, meant that once the music was added I could comfortably concentrate on accuracy and interpretation of the score comfortable with the movement on stage.

I am very lucky (again) to be working with such delightful and talented colleagues, both within the cast and the production team. Everyone brings their own twist and flavour to the ensemble numbers which keeps the pieces fresh and interesting. This opera is unlike any others that I have done, in the sense that previously I have performed roles which have included the need to perform solo arias, duets, small ensemble and some large ensemble. However, for this opera, my role is far more ensemble-based. I sing alongside many different characters in passionate or scheming duets, melancholy trips and triumphant decreto (an ensemble of 10 people). There are odd moments of aria style singing but I am enjoying this new and exciting challenge being an integral part of these multi-layered harmonies and captivating storylines which beautifully portray the difficult and intertwined relationships of Mansfield Park.

We have two full weeks rehearsals together in Central London then a week in Oxford which I’m very much looking forward to as we’ll be staying at Waterperry Gardens which will be amazing I’m sure.  I’m looking forward to watching the other productions Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit and Don Giovanni if time allows.  If I get any rehearsal photographs I’ll share them with you.  You can follow the run-up to the opening of the festival on Waterperry Opera Festival’s twitter here.

Here is a YouTube video by Viv Green which gives you the synopsis of Mansfield Park:

Meet the cast :

67 thoughts on “Mansfield Park – Reheasals Underway

    1. Thank you Jovina, I’d straightened my hair for a change. I’ve added a video that Waterperry produced today if you’d like to hear me talking about my role and the production with the rest of the cast.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

    1. It was a wonderful place to study, with fabulous tutors, coaches and staff including all my friends in security and admin. who deserve a special mention for making me so welcome and helping me to adjust to London life. I am very grateful for my opportunities.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

    1. Lots to memorise and tricky music, I love Dove’s operas though they’re very challenging. I’ve added a video that Waterperry produced today if you’d like to hear me talking about my role and the production with the rest of the cast.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

    1. Merci Pascal, partage = sharing thank you a new word for my vocabulary book. I’ve added a video that Waterperry produced today if you’d like to hear me talking about my role and the production with the rest of the cast.
      All the best to you too,
      Charlotte

      1. Great, I like hear you 🙂 …. when you have few time, could you write me the most imprtant 20 words for opéra singers ? it’s about my project books 🙂 – Havee a great week

    1. Thank you Christine, only two weeks to go now and that time is going to fly by. I’ve added a video that Waterperry produced today if you’d like to hear me talking about my role and the production with the rest of the cast.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

      1. Just seen the video, it was nice to hear you speak. I often wonder how my fellow blogger friends sound like. The opera sounds really fun and you seem to have a good cast of singers/actors alongside you. I am sure you will have such a good time. Enjoy xx

    1. Thank you Annette, next step to learn to move and remember my deportment to get into the historical context of the 1814 novel. I have to remember the lessons of my ballet teacher of fifteen years Helen Bates. I’ve added a video that Waterperry produced today if you’d like to hear me talking about my role and the production with the rest of the cast.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

      1. I quite enjoyed doing a podcast, my brother pulled my leg but it was a good idea glad you enjoyed it.
        All my best wishes
        Charlotte

    1. Thank you Alex, so do I even if its just the dress rehearsals, I love Don Giovanni and as I say in the video I’ve now shared in the blog post if you get chance to pop back, I’m also excited to see how they’ve set Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit to music.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

    1. Lots to remember you’re right and lots of harmony and ensemble singing, thank goodness for my three years in Les Sirenes choir and the RCS chamber choir. I’ve added a video that Waterperry produced today if you’d like to hear me talking about my role and the production with the rest of the cast.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  1. Charlotte, It’s so great to see you moving from one role to another—confirming my belief that you are on your way to a really important and steady career. I am so happy for you. In the meantime, if you (and any of your followers) want to read my review of the Santa Fe Candide and other productions, it is now posted: https://sharpsandflatirons.com/2018/08/05/santa-fe-opera-i-three-well-imagined-and-beautifully-rendered-productions/

    1. Thank you Peter, if you hear of any roles you think I should try out for send me an e-mail hehe can’t afford to get complacent. I read your excellent reviews, I hope people do stop by the reviews are very balanced and thoughtful. I love the sound of that rotating cube set what a fabulous idea. I think it is important to show the passage of time too. I have met Amanda Echalaz once she is a friend of my first singing teacher and she was amazingly helpful and such a lovely woman, I would love to have seen her in this production of Ariadne Auf Naxos and opera I’ve not seen yet.
      My best wishes
      Charlotte

      1. I’m so happy that you read and enjoy my reviews! It’s a lot of fun doing them—some work, of course, but fun, too, especially when I get to go to Santa Fe. After seeing that Butterfly, I am startled that showing the passage of time, and having Butterfly dressed in Western clothes in the second act, is not something I’ve seen before. It seems so obvious, now!
        Ariadne is a piece that you should see when you can. Since you’ve sung Cunnegonde, have you ever sung Zerbinetta’s big aria (Grossmächtige Prinzessin)? That would be a wonderful role for you! But that aria goes on and on and on.
        Your reply about starting to learn a recital reminds us all that in between all the great roles you are singing that you tell us about, there is lots and lots and LOTS of hard work. You are in one of the hardest careers I know, and I admire so much every one I know who makes it in opera. Keep working, Charlotte, and we will all enjoy hearing about the rewards that keep coming your way.
        Best wishes –peter

      2. I could do with someone to take over the practicalities so that I can just concentrate on my music at the moment, I’ve had to use up several days packing and trying to find somewhere affordable to live in London with a room I can practice in without disturbing others!

        Thanks for the aria suggestion, it looks like a big sing, I love Strauss and German arias so it’s one for my list.

        All my best wishes
        Charlotte

  2. p.s. My head is still spinning from trying to grasp Mansfield Park. Maybe I need to try to read the book again? What a blessing it is to get to focus on the one role and the one opera for a while! I look oroward to your updates. 🙂

    1. Yes it is nice to concentrate on the one production, however, soon I must start on a recital I have to learn for the beginning of October.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

    1. I am relishing the opportunity to get this experience with such a great young company. I really had my fingers crossed for some large ensemble opera scenes but this is just a perfect opera for this.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  3. Sounds great, like a lot of fun. Watching the video, is it Ma-ree-a or Ma-rye-a? 😉 I do wish that I could hear some of the music,though, since i don’t know this. Anyway, good luck and have fun!

      1. Excellent, I’ve put a link to the latest video with the cast members discussing their roles, sadly no singing.
        Best wishes
        Charlotte

    1. Ma-rye-a but that spelling is usually pronounced the first way in the UK. I wish you could hear some of the music there are lots of great voices it is keeping me on my toes. I will I love doing this job.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  4. You definitely sound like a pro already knowing where to move onstage and still concentrate on your interpretation of the songs. You are incredible, Charlotte. You have to be not only an exceptional singer (as you are) but also a talented actress (you are) and have stage presence (you certainly do). You have a promising future in wonderful productions all over the world. One day you will come to Boston, Massachusetts, USA and I will go see you. What a thrill that will be for me. I wish you much success with this production and all future endeavors. Hugs xx

    1. I would love to go to Boston Massachusetts and one of the best parts of that would be getting to meet you one day. Thank you Janice you are too kind.
      All my very best wishes and hugs,
      Charlotte

  5. As always, another fascinating post Charlotte. I always learn so much.
    Congratulations on your graduation and thank you for the super picture of you.
    Yesterday I was outside the national theatre in Iași, which as you know is also the opera house, regretting there is no summer programme!

    1. I have been there and sadly too there was no opera on but you can catch the odd concert in the shopping mall, yes I know it sounds odd but they have seriously talented live musicians perform in the mall. I hope you have a super holiday say hello to your lovely wife from me.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

    1. I’m excited to see you too, thanks so much for making the journey. I’m glad I stood slightly to the left on that photo or I’d have looked like the flowers were growing out of my head, super display aren’t they?
      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

    1. Thanks Nanette, so much goes on behind the scenes, it’s a bit like icebergs what you see at the top on show day disguises the weeks of preparation under the surface.
      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

  6. An interesting process, especially (for me) giving the text an un-sung read-through. I love theatre and recently finished writing my 22nd piece for the stage. [I’m not very musical, so there’s only one song among my works, co-written with my musical friend], but I love hearing your vocals and reading of your performances and education. Splendid!!

    1. Congrats on your 22nd piece that’s wonderful, my brother wrote plays for the stage when he was at college but stopped when he went to University I hope he finds his way back in to doing it. Candide has songs and verse I like to act and sing so that was a treat.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

    1. Thank you GP, I’m having fun whilst working hard at this, and picking up new skills. I’d always wanted to do ensemble opera pieces and this has audience interaction too so I’m very excited to see how that pans out with adults.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  7. Congratulations on your graduation! Love that picture — pretty shoes!

    This approach to the opera sounds wonderful, organic and effective. It seems that you must be up and running quickly, but you are all pros by now.

    Performing in Oxford sounds lovely. I cannot wait to hear and see more about how it all goes.

    Break a leg!

    1. My favourite pair of shoes I keep them for best, I always feel a million dollars in them but my feet let me know they’re not impressed at the end of the day haha 😂.

      I’m off to Oxford tomorrow for a final week of preparations and staging. I’ve been trying out regency style hair styles, which remind me I mustn’t forget to pack my curling wand.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  8. After watching both videos, I would like to learn how to speak with an English accent. I mean… I already speak English, so… I’m halfway there. Right? Anyway, a dizzying tale of love (or Drama). I would have to watch it to fully follow what was going on. Usually, someone dies when romantic relationships get this complicated. But… she said no one dies. I think she’s just trying to throw me off. :o)

    1. Haha 😄. I’m still learning to speak with a Southern English accent. When I speak to my Nana I start to follow her Stoke accent, my friends in Manchester a Mancunian accent, my Northern accent comes back when I’m at home and if I’m with my American friends I pick up their American style.

      I wish you could come to watch.

      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

    1. Thank you Noelle, after six years I feel a bit institutionalised if you know what I mean.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

    1. Thank you Resa it was fun to shoot, my family said I had my polished voice on hehe.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

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