‘Brontë’ Staging: Fascinating Facts and Creative Insights

Rehearsals for the premiere of Lisa Logan’s opera ‘Brontë’ are underway, and I am looking forward to going into the final week of rehearsals, where we get stuck into pacing, technical checks, costume and working with the orchestra. Inside our bustling rehearsal room, we’ve been meticulously finalising the staging—a process animated by the collaborative spark of our creative team. To celebrate this crescendo in our preparation, I’ve gathered some compelling Brontë facts, personally selected by each team member, to share with you in today’s blog post.

Lisa Logan (Composer and Producer)

“They had to pretend to be men to get their works published. I find it really shocking. I think it might have stopped other potentially talented women even writing at the time.”

Magdalena Mannion (Dancer and Movement Director)

“I love reading about Charlotte’s trance writing style. It was the style rather than the story that drew me into Jane Eyre, the first Brontë novel I read. I can relate to that physical intensity when searching for freedom or getting to know a character.”

Katharina Kastening (Director)

After Anne’s book ‘Agnes Grey’ was published – a novel about a governess looking after spoiled children – it was highly criticised for being over-exaggerated. In fact, it wasn’t over-exaggerated, she had worked as a governess in the past and had (according to her employer Mrs. Ingham) “actually tied [her] two children to a table leg in order to get on with her own writing”.

Alex Ingram (Conductor)

That Charlotte, once she’d become Mrs Nicholls, gave the parsonage a complete makeover.

Ashley Martin-Davis (Designer)

I like Kate Bush’s music, especially Wuthering Heights, inspired by Emily Brontë’s novel.  Interestingly, Kate Bush and Emily Brontë share the same birthday, July 30th, which adds an extra layer of connection between the artist and the author.

Grace Nyandoro

“I like how Anne (the sister I am portraying) was perceived as a radical writer; her fiction was based on issues such as alcoholism, abusive relationships, and the class divide. I feel her works are still relevant today.”

Elena Garrido Madrona (Charlotte Brontë)

“Charlotte wrote Jane Eyre and dedicated the second edition of this novel to her literary idol, William Makepeace Thackeray, without knowing that his wife was suffering from mental illness, the same way Bertha was in this novel.

Anna Marmion (Emily Brontë)

“I love the fact that at the time of Emily’s death, she was almost certainly working on a second novel, but Charlotte destroyed it. I love the mystery that surrounds Emily, both in her life and in her works; so much goes on in her internal world and mind (in which Cathy plays a big role) that discovering her has felt like a very intimate and personal journey.”

Biraj Barkakaty (Bell Nicolls)

“Charlotte owned a piece of Napoleon’s Coffin.

Alex White (Branwell and Heathcliff)

“My favourite fact is Branwell scrubbed himself out of the famous painting of his sisters that he painted. What a troubled mind!”

My favourite fact is that Cathy’s free-spirited essence will be forever a part of the wild moors she so dearly loved—buried not in a family plot but amidst the untamed landscape that always felt like home.

I believe the final week of rehearsals carries its own kind of wild, uncontainable energy—an energy we’re striving to harness and channel into a polished final staging, all set for opening night.

As I wrote last week, the idea that all of these women had to hide who they were to get published, how young they all were when they died, and their interest in mental health issues, things are improving more this century for women, but even JK Rowling was asked by her publishers to use her initials to hide her gender as they feared a book written by a woman would not appeal to boys.

24 thoughts on “‘Brontë’ Staging: Fascinating Facts and Creative Insights

      1. I investigated a bit further wondering how Charlotte got a piece of his coffin and discovered from Leeds Trinity University that when she ‘went to study in Brussels in 1843, her tutor, Monsieur Heger, gave her a piece of Napoleon’s original coffin from St Helena. Before he was reinterred in Les Invalides in Paris, bits of Napoleon’s original coffin were broken up and shared out.’
        I hope you’ve managed to get out a bit in your gorgeous car in the beautiful weather this weekend.
        Best wishes

      2. Amazing information. I have learned a lot thank you. As for my car, it’s tucked up for the winter now sadly. I will have to wait for March next year now for the next proper car show.

    1. They were a fascinating family the Brontës. It will get pretty intense this week I’m sure. I saw two of my school friends recently Oscar and Deanna, one of them Deanna, I’ve known since I was two, they have just bought some tickets I think this is the first opera they will see me in.
      Best wishes

  1. Is it premiering next weekend? Sounds interesting. As Cathy, that means a fictional character, though perhaps the most famous character any of them produced, right? Good luck!
    Fun seeing what the different cast members took from their studies of the life of the sisters.

    1. The week after we have a mid-week opening. I read that Jane Eyre was a great success when it was published in 1847, launching Charlotte Brontë into literary fame. It also earned her 500 pounds (the equivalent to over £61,000 in today’s money), which was twenty-five times her salary as a governess. Wuthering Heights came out 3 months later and Emily Brontë was dead a year later of consumption, many literary critics say that Emily was a better poet than Charlotte but I read that Jane Eyre sold more copies.
      Best wishes

    1. Thank you Annette, I enjoyed everyone’s favourite comment. OOo I love that I will let magic be my friend.
      Best wishes

  2. How exciting, Charlotte!
    This sounds like a fabulous opera. Lisa Logan must be thrilled to see her work nearing a performance.
    All these facts are so interesting. What a great Idea for a post.
    Have a wonderful time rehearsing!
    Have a fantastic dress rehearsal.
    I know you will shine on opening night!

  3. Remember Oxford only granted its first degrees to women exactly a century ago… in 1923. But, but… That is done, as women’s voting rights. My grandmother voted – in France – for the first time at the age of 54, at the end of WWII.
    We have progressed, but there still is work to do.
    Break a leg.

  4. I’m not a Bronte’s expert but some of my ancestors lived in Wycoller & their paths “might just” have crossed theirs! Good luck with the performance! I’d love to be there! 💐🙋‍♂️

    1. What a beautiful village I looked it up. I know the area because I have performed in Blackburn, Skipton and Todmorden and my parents once lived in Todmorden.
      Best wishes

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