Saturday 19th October at 19:30 pm, opening night, Sunday 20th October 15:00 pm matinee performance sees the culmination of three weeks of intensive but ever so enjoyable rehearsals for Arcadian Opera’s production of Gounod’s Romeo & Juliet.  We are in the fabulous Roxburgh Hall Theatre, Stowe School, MK18 5EH a beautiful location mid-way between Banbury off the M40 J10 motorway and Milton Keynes M1 J14. (Tickets)

During the rehearsals, I have learnt so much working under the watchful ears and eyes of Justin Lavender and Alison Marshall and I can’t wait to take to the stage next Saturday to help bring this opera to life.

Some Pictures From One Of Our Rehearsals

The story is such a sad story. I remember as a teenager, about the age of Juliet in the story, traveling to Verona on a family holiday and visiting the site of Juliet’s balcony.  At the time I just could not have imagined being in her position, a forbidden love with an impossible decision that brought with it unintended consequences.

Juliet’s Balcony – Verona

The music is so beautiful and, in this production, we will be singing in English accompanied by the Arcadian Opera Chorus and Orchestra. Although current productions of Romeo and Juliet are more often than not updated, the set and costumes designed by Stage Director Ali Marshall, put the action back in the wild and dangerous times of fifteenth-century Italy, when gang warfare was also a fact of life.

James Hutchings (Tybalt) practicing swordplay
with William Branston (Romeo)

Justin Lavender, Musical Director

Our Music Director is Justin Lavender, he was originally persuaded by Peter Pears and Benjamin Britten to abandon nuclear engineering for music. His international debut was as Nadir in Les Pêcheurs de Perles at Sydney Opera House. This success led to engagements with opera companies and orchestras throughout the world at the very highest levels. In 1990 he made debuts at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, singing the leading role of Arnold in Rossini’s spectacular masterpiece, Guillaume Tell, as well as at the Wiener Staatsoper as Tamino in Die Zauberflöte. His debut at La Scala, Milan, in the title role of Rossini’s Le Comte Ory came the following year, along with Demodokos in Dallapiccola’s Ulisse at the Salzburg Festival. (MORE)

Alison Marshall, Artistic Director

Alison Marshall initially trained for five years at the prestigious Tring Park School for the Performing Arts after which she studied for a further three years at the Royal Academy of Dancing.   She then became a professional ballet dancer in Germany, rising to be a solo dancer, appearing in many of the favourite classical roles as well as several roles that were created especially for her.  While there, ballet roles permitting, she would occasionally sing in the extra-chorus of the opera company resident in the same theatre. (MORE)

I do hope that if some of you are in the area you can come along to watch, I’ve advised my parents and grandparents to bring along their tissues. Yesterday I introduced my old friends and previous neighbours to come to watch the Fire of Olympus opera in York and they really enjoyed it, especially that for their first experience of opera it was sung in English and they could understand everything. So if you’ve never tried opera and always wanted to know what it is like I recommend Romeo and Juliet, a story you probably know, again sung in English. We’d love you to come along and support us. All my best wishes, Charlotte x

Pictures From Today’s Sitzprobe Rehearsal

64 thoughts on “Romeo & Juliet

    1. Thank you Maria, I’m very excited for opening night 7:30 pm next Saturday keep your fingers crossed for us and the matinee Sunday performance, it is always nice for people who don’t like to be out too late at night but still enjoy opera and live performance to start at 3pm.

      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

    1. I’m so tired right now I’m going to have an early night but what an afternoon in the sitzprobe, I’m buzzing and so happy to be working with this fabulous group.
      All my best wishes
      Charlotte x

    1. Thank you Lavinia it’s a big sing and I’m loving this whole experience, learning so much.
      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

    1. Great post Don I hope my readers flick through to your informative post, we didn’t have time to go to the tomb but I wish I had now so seeing your photos was great. I wish you could see our performance live I’m very excited.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

      1. Yes, I wish I could see your production. I’ve seen the opera R&J several times, but never in English. I imagine the translator must have been torn between making the text singable and staying as close as possible to Shakespeare.

      2. I started learning the Schirmer edition English translation over the past few months and Justin made some improvements to the text for example he changed poignard to dagger, I may be able to show some of the film recording fingers crossed.
        Best wishes
        Charlotte

    1. I wish I had the time to write more about it, my blogging has taken a bit of a time hit over the past few months as you can imagine. I should have also mentioned my wonderful hosts that are putting me up and looking after me so wonderfully.

      I hope I can persuade a few more people just to pop along to this performance it’s shaping up a treat.

      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

    1. I wish you could attend too, it’s a really big sing for me as Juliet, I’m so excited. My Romeo is lovely too, we worked together for the first time a few months ago on Much Ado About Nothing in Leeds.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

    1. The men had lots of fun with this sword practice. I can use Japanese Nunchucks but I never did sword fighting.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

      1. Not feeling very Mark Knophler at all today… and the closest I can get to Shakespeare would be the dungeons over in Warwick castle. Trying to get all 12th night or even Merry Wives of Windsor… but I think them woods are coming up to Dunsinaine.
        The cat is dancing on my desk and is courting the laptop… will that suffice for now?

  1. Great post Charlotte, it’s lovely to see everyone involved
    In the production.
    It makes it real too, when we can see your photo’s..
    Good luck with everything you’re doing.xx

    1. So difficult to get photos in rehearsals but the orchestra looks fabulous doesn’t it. I’ll try to get some backstage in costume if I can.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  2. Another wonderful step in your ever-growing career, Charlotte. I know your family must be bursting with pride!! The video ran a bit sluggish on my computer, but oops – down he went – in slow motion!! haha

    1. Stabbed in the back too! This Juliet has been the biggest role yet, a fabulous role I’ve loved getting to know the character and reading the story, I even got a set of student study guides no fear Shakespeare called sparknotes.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  3. We could so nearly have got to this and it is a great favourite of mine – but our grandson’s first birthday is Saturday and we have another engagement on Sunday grrrr! You will be wonderful in the part, so sing your heart out.

    1. I can’t believe it’s first birthday time, this year has absolutely flown by, I bet you’re wondering how you ever had time for anything else now. I’ve really enjoyed learning this role my brother’s disappointed because he can’t make it either but I’ve family making a weekend visit of it.

      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

    1. Thank you very much Pascal 😊. I’m really looking forward to this weekend.

      All my best wishes
      Charlotte

  4. I love Gounod’s music but I don’t remember ever having heard (or seen) his Romeo and Juliet. I must try to find it and have a listen. I loved the post, Charlotte! (I really don’t know how you find the time for all you do!) The photos are great and the video of the sword fight, wonderful. I found the information on Justin and Alison very interesting, too. Best of luck, as ever, for next weekend xx

    1. I must admit Clare this one has been a stretch, I’m glad I started on it a few weeks ago. Luckily I’ve been working away from my home base a lot and when at home my parents take care of cooking, washing and everything, but I’ve got a lot of catching up to do with just about everyone and getting my home straight after the show.
      It’s a great company to work with the chorus are just super people, I’ve been very well looked after and the pies and home cooking gratefully received.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  5. Pages burnt not to ashes
    the fire gone out
    still burns bright
    the till of seas
    blue and white

    The fight of sword fight

    A bird’s flight unfurled

    Twice black embers
    Thereto audience members

    Neither death for certain

    Stirring, Stilled, neigh,
    Close, this curtain

    1. Thanks Christine, we had a marvellous weekend. Both shows went down a treat. I’ll miss everyone after an intense three weeks together and all of the lovely home-cooked food and hospitality of my host family. I’m hoping to get some video and photographs of the performance to blog soon.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

    1. I had a wonderful time thanks Eric. My Mum said it is her favourite opera now although she did have tears in her eyes when I died.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

    1. I wish you could have seen it Arti, I had lots of lovely feedback, still on a high two days later, although I admit I spent most of Monday in a sleepy daze having got home at midnight after the aftershow party 😊.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  6. Stunning indeed, Charlotte – and I hope your opening went well yesterday, and today also brings out the best for you. Reading this post, along with listening to you sing ‘Ave Maria’ is a perfect start to my Sunday. Wishing you the best and continued success ~ take care.

    1. I’ve had the most wonderful experience with this lovely opera, every emotion from loving life to ending life over three hours. The costumes and orchestra and all the cast including the children from a local school were just a joy to work with. Thank you Randall.

      Best wishes
      Charlotte

      1. This is so good to hear, Charlotte, you seem to be making dreams come true ~ and Romeo & Juliet does cover every powerful emotion. Cheers to you!

  7. Magnificent°! Sounds and looks very promising! :)))) I wish you all the utmost success! :)))) (Very likable people…! …carry on…!) :))))

    1. Thank you Eberhard, I’m busy preparing for a lunchtime church recital tomorrow in Warrington near where I grew up in Cheshire 🎹🎶. 😊
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

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