Archives For My Performance 2017

Team BanbinO

Timothy Connor, Laura Sergeant, Me, Martin Wooley, David Sneddon, Stuart Semple

It is hard to believe that our time here in Manchester has come to an end.  We have performed in Manchester, Wigan, Hyde, Heywood, Oldham, finishing today in Salford.  The staff and Volunteers from the Manchester International Festival have been fantastic and made us feel so welcome at each venue.

MIF Volunteer

Me with Gwyneth, One Of The MIF Volunteers

Today we all said goodbye as we went our separate ways for a couple of weeks before we get back together again in Glasgow to prepare for the Edinburgh Festival.  We start our first performances there on the 8th August and run through to 20th August 2017.

Team BanbinO 02

Sam Phillips, Laura Sergeant, Timothy Connor, Me, Stuart Semple, Sophie Skellern, David Sneddon

This is one of the duets from the opera that I sing with Timothy Connor

 

Here are some links to press reviews of the production:

‘The payoff for an initiative like this is incalculable…rarely has innocent pleasure felt more vital.’  Please read this review as it is an insightful article which delves into the accessibility of opera and pretty much sums up how I feel about it.

★★★★★ Fiona Maddocks – The Observer

‘Full marks to BambinO. Opera can work for babies, and maybe one day they’ll come to enjoy it as adults, too…’ 

★★★★ Robert Beale – The Arts Desk

‘…it was genuinely moving to see a little girl of no more than nine months giggling with delight as the soprano, Charlotte Hoather, imitated bird sounds during a playful yet beautiful aria

Sam Jackson – The Times

‘…the joy of something like this is watching the joy in your little one’s face.’

★★★★ Dianne Bourne – Manchester Evening News

This video about ‘BambinO’, from the FaceBook page of the BBC, has received over 1.3 million views so far !!

 

 

I have had a truly special and humbling week! It was the premiere week for Bambino as part of the Manchester International Festival. We have performed in 12 shows with over 258 babies, their parents and family, and some very special guests. It has been an exciting experience and I can’t stop smiling.

The Whole Cast and Crew

The Cast and Crew

I arrived in Manchester on Monday evening in Scottish Opera’s people carrier along with the team and the wonderful Stuart Semple who had driven us down from Glasgow. We settled into our apartments after being welcomed by the magnificent Manchester International Festival team (MIF). I have been working closely with Angela, Sophie and Tracy and many many wonderful volunteers over this week, all of whom have made the show a huge success.

For the first couple of days, we performed in the centre of Manchester in the Pavilion performance space, in Albert Square. It was wonderful to be performing at the heart of the festival and the vibe of MIF was incredible, hosting great food, drink, and music accompanied by a wonderful atmosphere. If you are in the area during the Festival it is well worth a visit.  It was here that I met Emma and Giuseppe Belli’s sweet and fantastic children. They came to watch the first performances in Manchester, making it extra special.

The babies in each show are very inquisitive and engaged in the performance. There is at time some crying but it rarely lasts for longer than a few moments so perhaps they are just overtaken with emotion 🙂    But as my Mum pointed out, there are a lot more chuckles, laughs, claps and plenty of singing along. Whatever their reaction you can guarantee that every show is individual and very special. And as our director Phelim McDermott said, ‘My hope is that in later years, there’ll be adults who are asked, when they’re at the Opera, what was the first opera you saw? and they’ll be able to say, Well, I was 11 months old when I went to see an opera” and they won’t be pretending when they say that.  It will be absolutely true’.

Drawing By Eva

I was thrilled that Eva Belli ( Aged 4 ) , Emma and Guiseppe Belli’s daughter, drew me this beautiful picture of Bambino.

Sophie, one of our producers, helped organise tickets for two other shows for us to attend in the evening after our daytime performances. I was able to go to Bridgewater Hall to watch the BBC Philharmonic perform ‘The World Was Once All Miracle’, and ‘Available Light’ a dance choreographed by Lucinda Childs at the Palace Theatre. It was a wonderful performance and took me back to my contemporary dancing days at Knutsford High School.

Available Light

After completing our performances in Manchester City Centre we started taking the show to places outside of the city centre such as Wigan and Hyde. These shows are so important and it brings music out to communities and venues that aren’t usually used for these events. Everyone deserves the chance to experience live music and theatre. I hope that this can continue!

In Wigan, I had the wonderful treat of my best friend Ellie and her family, Rory and baby Annabelle, come to watch the show! This made it extra special for me. I’m sure I’ll be visiting them again soon and we can sing the songs together. Ellie said Annabelle was mesmerised and that as well as Annabelle it was Ellie’s first opera too!

I’m having a day off at my family home tomorrow to recharge and then I’m back into a busy week ahead. I can’t wait!  We have performances in Heywood, Oldham, finishing in Salford.

To finish I must admit that it was very exciting to see the production mentioned in interviews for BBC radio and for the BBC Regional News I’ve shared the links in my facebook if you’d like to take a look.

 

School’s out for summer!! (Well at least for me), on Wednesday 7th June I performed my end of year recital program at the Royal College of Music. I sang a program of Mozart, Liszt, Strauss and Moore.

Prajna and Charlotte

Amelia Widjaja, Prajna Indrawati and Me

My delightful singing teacher Rosa Mannion reminded me to think of it as a performance rather than an exam.  I thought this was a wonderful sentiment and reminds me to stay positive and share music with those around me.  My recital celebrated all that I have learnt this year and showcased some of the beautiful music that I had the pleasure of preparing with Rosa and my wonderful repertoire coach Andrew Robinson.

Rosa and Charlotte

Rosa Mannion and Me

On that note, It was a real treat to be supported by my friends and family who were able to make it to the performance and for all the many kind thoughts sent to me from those unable to attend. You all added to the magical atmosphere and boosted my confidence to get out there and shake a tail feather!

However, after a few photos, hugs and a quick celebratory lunch with my wonderful duo partner Prajna Indrawati and our friend Amelia Widjaja, who kindly turned pages at the piano, I jumped onto a train with my family heading to Glasgow ready to begin rehearsals for BambinO!

On Thursday morning I arrived surprisingly fresh-faced and full of energy for a day of music calls at Scottish Opera lead by composer Lliam Paterson. Laura Sargeant (cellist), Timothy Connor (Baritone), Stuart Semple (Percussionist) and myself started to work through the score scene by scene, marrying each independent instrument together. We continued our work on Friday morning and then in the afternoon, I had my first costume fitting with the wonderful designer Emma Belli. The costume looks fantastic and I can’t wait for my second fitting when the next layer of details can be added on. Plus anybody that has worked with me before technically, knows that I adore costume and the first fitting always gets me ridiculously excited!

On Saturday we were given a sneak preview of the set design by the fabulous designer Giuseppe Belli (who is Emma’s partner in crime). The set is in the final process of being built and should be ready for our production rehearsal beginning on Monday. We then continued our music calls by performing a little mini taster for the director Phelim McDermott and Assistant Director Lissa Lorenzo. So that they could hear the new music and allow their imaginations to begin bubbling with inspiration.

I will find out how much I can share during the process but one thing for sure is that I’m really excited and can’t wait to perform the production at the premiere in Manchester on the 4th July!  If you are in the Manchester area please check out the schedule.

I am excited to share some wonderful news with you all, last December I was invited by Scottish Opera to participate in a week of exploration and development for a new project they were hoping to produce.  It was very hush, hush and I wasn’t able to share the experience with you at the time so that the concept could be fully developed before announcing their plans.  All I can say is that I had a fabulous week and enjoyed every minute of it.  I returned to London happy that I had been involved and excited for the production team as they had some wonderful ideas, I had no idea what was to happen next.  After a couple of months, I was contacted and asked to be part of production, and tour as one of the cast members this summer and autumn.

Bambino

Here is the press release that I was sent which explains a little more:

The long-awaited follow-up to Scottish Opera’s hugely successful BabyO performances, BambinO is a pioneering and unique piece of music theatre for infants aged 6 to 18 months.

A new co-production with Manchester International Festival and Improbable, the show premieres at Manchester International Festival in July, before traveling to Edinburgh as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe, then to Glasgow for performances in Scottish Opera’s Production Studios.

Written by Scottish Opera’s Composer in Residence Lliam Paterson and directed by Improbable’s critically-acclaimed Phelim McDermott, BambinO will be a celebration of the possibilities of music and the power of the infant imagination.

The show reinvents operatic language and traditions for children at an age when their minds are wide open to new sounds, images, and experiences. Babies are free to explore during the performance and to interact with the singers, musicians and each other.

Programme Bambino

Director, Phelim McDermott, said: ‘It is inspiring to create a new opera for what is possibly the most discerning – and important – audience there is. We all know that babies respond to music and we want to nurture and stimulate that relationship through their very first opera.’

Scottish Opera’s Composer in Residence, Lliam Paterson, continued: ‘BambinO will bring an operatic experience to a little audience with ears open to discovering new sounds. It is so exciting to create a colourful and vibrant work that can engage both babies and adults fully while conveying the drama and passion of opera. The opportunity for me to work with as imaginative a director as Phelim McDermott is fantastic and truly inspiring. He and design team Giuseppe Belli and Emma Belli will bring a beautifully crafted operatic world to a whole new audience!’

Scottish Opera’s Director of Education and Outreach, Jane Davidson, said: ‘Incorporating rich, exuberant colours and images – both musically and visually – we’ve created the perfect miniature opera. Complete with percussion, cello, and tiny pianos, all four performers fashion a magical soundscape that will enthrall and challenge both the babies and the adults who come along with them. This is not a ‘baby’ show in a traditional sense; this is baby baroque as you’ve never seen it before!’

BambinO is commissioned and produced by Scottish Opera, Manchester International Festival and Improbable.  It is supported by Scottish Opera’s New Commissions Circle and Scottish Opera’s Education Angels.

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Cast and Creative Team
Composer           Lliam Paterson
Director              Phelim McDermott
Designers           Giuseppe Belli & Emma Belli
Soprano              Charlotte Hoather
Baritone              Timothy Connor
Cello                     Laura Sergeant
Percussion          Stuart Semple
Stage Manager   David Sneddon

I can’t wait to join everyone on the 8th June when we start rehearsals and I will keep you posted as we progress and the tour gets underway.  It will be great to work with Stuart Semple again who I toured with last year in the Scottish Opera production of “ The Little White Town Of Never Weary”

I must admit that it was quite a buzz to see the production listed on the Scottish Opera website in this season’s events and to have the opportunity to work on this new composition which is to Premiere at the Manchester International Festival on 4th July.

Season 2017 2018

 

This week I had the pleasure of performing at the Britten Theatre alongside my friends in a set of Opera Scenes produced by the Royal College of Music, London. The scenes were directed by James Bonasconducted by Christopher Middleton and accompanied on piano by Ian Tindale.

I had a wonderful time performing the role of Aminta alongside the talented Yiwen Su as Elisa. We performed the opening scene from “Il re Pastore” by Mozart. For the performance, I had to wear a period wig, this was a completely new experience for me and I really enjoyed learning about the process and watching Shauna, the talented makeup and hair professional as she managed to hide all my hair under a cap ready for the powdered wig. To help me feel even more like a character from the 18th century, Shauna applied a layer of white foundation to my face which made me look quite pale. This was because in the 18th century both men and women would wear cosmetics to show social status. However, I wasn’t allowed to wear the fashionable bright pink rouge and lip colour as this would have been considered beyond the social ranking of my character for the scene. I found this really interesting and added another layer to my character profile and allowed me to explore how my character Aminta would react to meeting Elisa who in the first scene would have been considered higher than Aminta in social ranking. The performance was so much fun and I can’t wait to get back on a stage soon!

 

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On Friday evening I had arranged to go and watch the RAMBERT ballet company perform “Ghost Dances” at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London. Because I could not get a student ticket my brother Matthew offered to pay half as he knew how much I wanted to go which was lovely of him and appreciated by me 🙂  This performance was really special for me because I analysed Christopher Bruce’s “Ghost Dances” for my Dance A level. Whilst writing my analysis I was only able to watch video recordings of the piece but enjoyed the dance so much that I fell in love with the chilling choreography and the powerful storyline of the dance. So, when Matthew told me that it was to be performed at Sadler’s Wells I did not want to miss out on the chance to see it performed live. I enjoyed the performance thoroughly and the company used the original choreography, music, costumes, and set, so my memory of this beautiful dance was re-enacted live before my own eyes. The company takes the performance on tour very soon and if you get the opportunity to go and watch it I would recommend the show thoroughly!!

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I would also like to share with you all that I will be performing my year end recital on the 7th June in the East Parry room on the 4th floor of the Royal College of Music.  My recital will be at 2:40 pm and if you are in London and able to attend it would be lovely to see you in the audience.

 

Friday Concert 5th May 2017

Anna Cooper, Prajna Indrawati and Me

 

On Friday I had a wonderful opportunity to perform near home in Chester with my talented peers Anna Cooper (Mezzo-Soprano) and Prajna Indrawati (Piano). We have all become great friends over this past year whilst we have been studying at the Royal College of Music in London. It was a delight to work on this recital programme with them both.

The concert took place in the beautiful St. Werburgh’s RC Church. The church had recently invested in a wonderful grand piano, which had a brilliant tone to support the voice. We arrived in the early evening after driving up from London during the afternoon and we immediately began rehearsing and preparing for the concert. We tested the acoustics both for singing and speaking and adapted our performances to reflect this. In the concert, I performed a range of songs from my personal journey through the world of classical music, featuring songs that I felt represented key moments of my training and other personal favourites.

We had an absolute blast and I would love to go back. The audience were very friendly and welcoming, which is always a nice feeling for a performer! It means you can take risks and experiment with ideas that you have so that music is alive with spontaneity and imagination. I was especially pleased to see my parents and my good friends Gill and Terry Howard in the audience who had driven to Chester after work to catch the performance.

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On the 16th May, I will be participating in another set of Opera Scenes at the Royal College of Music under the baton of Christopher Middleton and the direction of James Bonas. We began rehearsals from the 24th April meeting twice a week for 90 minutes. I will be performing the opening scene from “Il Re Pastore” by Mozart as the character Aminta. The opera was first performed on 23 April 1775 in Salzburg, at the Palace of the Archbishop Count Hieronymus von Colloredo when Mozart was just 19.

Aminta is a young and impoverished shepherd boy who is in love with a shepherdess, Elisa. But as in all good operas, nothing is quite that straightforward. Alessandro the mighty King and ruler of Macedonia had just fought and defeated an evil tyrant, Stratone of Sidon.  Alessandro was determined to find the rightful heir to the throne of Sidon and sets out on a mission to bring order back to the city-state.

sidon.jpg

You guessed it, Aminta is the rightful heir but initially, wants no part of it.  He is happy living the simple life of a shepherd and plans to marry his true love Elisa at the earliest opportunity. Aminta is convinced by Alessandro to return to Sidon to take up the throne and put aside his love of Elisa for his duty to his people.

Alessandro believes that it would be good for Aminta, and for Sidon, if he marries Tamiri the daughter of the deposed tyrant, Stratone.  But she loves another and Aminta’s heart lies with Elisa.  Elisa and Tamiri plead with Alessandro to change his mind and allow them to marry for love.  Realising how unjust his original proclamation would be he relents and allows Aminta to marry Elisa.  The story ends with Aminta being crowned King of all Sidon.

This performance will be a first for me, as Aminta is a pants role, which means I will have to play a boy. The reason for this is because the role was originally written for a ‘castratto’, a male singer who has the range of a soprano or mezzo-soprano. From the middle of the 16th Century through to 1870 when it became illegal in Italy, young pre-pubescent boys would be castrated so that their larynx would not develop into that of an adult male.  This meant that they retained a childlike quality to their voices with an extended range.  Their bodies without the influence of testosterone developed in a unique way, their joints did not harden the same as an adult male and their bones would grow unusually long.  This often gave them a tremendous lung capacity coupled with a youthful-sounding voice.  As the practice fell out of favour the roles that had originally been written for their voices would then be performed by women.

 

Carnoustie-Church

On the 29th April, I will be returning to Scotland to perform with the Angus Choral Society at Carnoustie Church, Carnoustie at 7:30 pm.  The Musical Director, Norman Beedie asked me to join them for the evening to perform the soprano solos in the “Harmonie Messe” by Haydn.

The other singers joining me to perform the other solo parts of the mass are Thomas Kinch- Tenor, Stephanie Maitland- Mezzo Soprano, and Will Frost – Bass. The organist for the evening will be Graeme Stevenson and the Tayside Symphony Orchestra Winds & Friends will be providing the orchestral accompaniment.

The piece was written in 1802 and was Haydn’s last major work. The title of the mass “Harmonie” comes from German terminology due to the prominence of the wind ensemble in the mass.

I am looking forward to performing alongside the members of the Angus Choral Society and my old friends and colleagues from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in what should be a wonderful evening.

If you are in the area on the 29th April why not come along and join us, the tickets cost £10.00 and will be available on the door..

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I would also like to pass on my thanks to all the people who asked about me following the awful attack on Westminster Bridge last Wednesday, 22nd April.  I am safe and well but my thoughts go out to all those that were touched by the day’s events, those that lost a loved one, or who are comforting those who were injured.

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Finally, I would like to wish my Mum a happy Mother’s Day. I couldn’t be with her today due to rehearsal commitments but thankfully with the help of my iPad I managed to FaceTime her and spend a little time with her online.  I can’t wait to see her in a couple of weeks when I will get to travel home for a short break.