The focus of this week was sharpening up the production ready for opening performances on Friday 16th July.
On Monday 12th July we rehearsed both shows in the studio, making sure all the movements were memorised and the unison was sharp and punchy. We then moved outside to the Trailer on Tuesday where we held a technical rehearsal, led by Mark Renfrew, our sound engineer for the tour. For the Pop-Up Operas, Scottish Opera turn a large articulated trailer into a stage so that the shows can be transported all over Scotland, widening the audiences and making opera more accessible. It’s such a thrill to see a vehicle turn into a stage. Brian our wonderful driver, transports the lorry between the locations, and slides the curtain to one side to reveal a cellist, a guitarist, a story-teller and two singers. In order to give the audience the best experience, Scottish Opera hired a sound engineer, who masterfully enhances the live sounds so that they can be heard across a socially distanced audience that may encounter the odd seagull or traffic noise. Mark gave myself, Katie and Mark (Nathan) microphone headsets and Laura and Ian standing microphones. We then went on to test levels and balance the ensemble sound. This is to check that the show would work well when we perform outside, and not one member is unnecessarily louder than another.
We then completed dress rehearsals, which I always adore. I find it so much fun to get into costume. We were dressed by Trish Kenny, who I have had the pleasure of working with before on previous Scottish Opera productions Little Town of Never Weary and The Walk from the Garden. In HMS Pinafore I wear a lovely blue and white outfit that makes me feel as if I have just stepped out of a Wedgewood tableware design. In Pirates I wear an ivory and peach ensemble fit for frolicking amongst rivulets and willow trees.
During the week Laura and I expanded our walking trails, and visited the Falkirk Wheel. I was really looking forward to visiting this landmark as I sung about it when I took part in a children’s Pop-Up opera show “Puffy McPuffer and the Crabbit Canals” in 2019. This musical tale is about the five waterways that link Scotland from the North Sea to the Atlantic. The Falkirk Wheel is the World’s only rotating boat lift. It lifts boats 115 ft, in order to link the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal. It opened in 2002 and was built as part of the Millennium Link project.
We opened our tour of performances on Friday 16th July in Stirling Castle. The surroundings were beautiful and the weather was perfect for opera watching and ice-cream eating. The outdoor auditorium was created by a series of re-purposed yellow gardening hoses fashioned into circles to create seating bubbles. Each bubble can have from 2-5 guests. I really enjoyed this set-up as it created the sense of intimacy whilst also allowing for a shared group experience. In between shows, Laura showed me around Stirling and we walked the grounds of the castle and the nearby sights. We saw some incredible views and a savoured a little bit of history. Have you attended any outdoor performances this summer? How did you find the set up? What could have been improved?