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.
“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.