Archives For My Performances 2018

Trial By Jury

December 2, 2018 — 51 Comments

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Tonight I wanted to write about the comic operas of Gilbert and Sullivan as I will be performing the role of The Plaintiff in their one-act opera ‘Trial By Jury’ for Surrey Opera on the 16th December 2018.  I will be joined by the talented Stephen Anthony Brown, the effervescent Giles Davis,  and the amazing Tim Baldwin for what I hope will be a fun-filled evening.

My first encounter with Gilbert and Sullivan was when I studied at the junior department of the Royal Northern College of Music when we performed in The Yeomen of the Guard.  Gilbert and Sullivan were both born in Victorian England, Gilbert in 1836 and Sullivan in 1842. Their partnership produced fourteen comic operas which have been performed Internationally to appreciative audiences for over one hundred years. Gilbert wrote the Libretti, the text, and Sullivan composed the music.

Trial By Jury

Trial By Jury

The story pokes fun at the common law of Breach of Promise, it was considered that if a man made a promise of engagement to marry a woman and subsequently changed his mind then his fiancé could sue him for damages. The law was repealed in England in 1970, the last prominent case to be heard in the English courts was the case brought by Eva Haraldsted against the footballer George Best in 1969.

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H. Friston’s engraving of the original production of Trial By Jury

In the opera, I play the role of The Plaintiff who is beseeching the court to award her substantial damages as she loves the man who has broken his promise of marriage. The Defendant pleads with the court to keep the award small as he is “such a very bad lot”.  There is much argument between the parties with The Jurymen recalling their misspent youth but as they are all now respectable gentlemen, they can have no sympathy with the actions of the defendant.

The Defendant eventually offers to marry both The Plaintiff and his new love, but as The Judge points out that though this would appear to be an equitable arrangement it would be a serious crime in itself.  The Defendant then goes on to explain to the court that he is, in fact, a smoker, a drunkard, and a bully (when drunk) and The Plaintiff would not have wanted to spend more than a day married to him.  The Judge suggests that The Defendant should make himself drunk to prove his point.  The rest of the court objects to this and fed up with the lack of progress the Judge offers to marry The Plaintiff himself.  The Plaintiff finds this outcome much to her liking and as such the opera ends on a happier note.

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Classical Gala With Rolando Villazón And Guests

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Rolando Villazón

I also wanted to share with you that I have been asked to perform at next year’s Llangollen International Eisteddfod as a guest of tenor Rolando Villazón who will be performing there for the first time.  Also appearing with him will be the Welsh lyric soprano Rhian Lois.  I am thrilled and honoured to have been asked to take part in the concert which takes place on the 2nd July 2019.  Tickets will go on sale on the 12th December.

Let’s Learn to Speak Opera

November 18, 2018 — 55 Comments

This week I found the inspiration for my blog post when reading back through some comments on previous blog posts. I came across a comment from my blog-friend Eric Christopher Jackson, a wonderful artist who tells stories through Photography it got me thinking. He wrote:

When you say things like “bel canto phrasing” or “arpeggios progressing to coloratura exercises” I’m at a loss. However, as I continue to read your Blog, I’m learning how to speak “Opera.”

So I thought that I could perhaps create a little glossary, that I could expand upon over time, to help explain some of the details and vocabulary that I may use. Today we will be discussing Voice Types.

But first here are a couple of Buzz Words that you may be helpful:

Vocal Range: A measurement of the range of the notes/pitches that a human voice can phonate/sing.

Vocal Weight: The amount of volume the voice can naturally produce. This is important because it can dictate the size of orchestra that a soloist can comfortably perform with (without any artificial amplification )

Colour: This describes the particular sound of the singer, and is what allows a singer’s voice to be individual and unique. You can describe a voice as warm, bright, dark, light and much more. Preference depends upon the listener.

Vocal Runs: A fast succession of notes that can ascend and descend in pitch rapidly.

Coloratura: An elaborate ornamentation/decoration of a vocal melody, which will often involve runs.

The Voice Types

The initials SATB, which are often used in choirs, stand for the four main voice Types: Soprano, Alto, Tenor, and Bass. These initials are to show that the choir uses the full range of the human voice, as opposed to an all-female or all-male choir.  When singing as a soloist, you will also come across the terms Mezzo-Soprano, [usually the same range as an Alto], Contralto, [the lowest female voice], Counter-Tenor, [a male voice who has the equivalent range to a mezzo-soprano] and Baritone, [the male voice lying in between Tenor and Bass].

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The Seven Main Voice Types [High to Low]

  • Soprano
  • Mezzo-Soprano
  • Contralto
  • Countertenor
  • Tenor
  • Baritone
  • Bass

In the Opera World, these main Voice Types are further categorized to facilitate casting. This system was created in Germany and is called the Fach system. These sub-categories depend upon much of what we have discussed so far one’s vocal range, vocal weight, Colour, flexibility, characters and more.

Listen to the above youtube video created by the Royal Opera House, to hear the different voice types and excerpts of them singing Opera.

I will now explain a little more about my own vocal Fach. If you find it interesting and want to know more, please comment below and I will expand in later weeks.

The Soprano voice:

  • Soubrette
  • Character Soprano
  • Lyric Coloratura
  • Full Lyric Soprano
  • Spinto Soprano
  • Dramatic Soprano

At the moment, I am categorized as a Lyric Coloratura. This means that I have an extended upper range. Personally, I can sing up to an F#, which is needed for roles such as the Queen of the Night from Die Zauberflöte by Mozart and The Controller in Flight by Jonathan Dove. My voice is quite flexible and I can sing a variety of vocal runs. The characters that Lyric Coloraturas would sing are generally young women, who are charming, sometimes short-tempered, coquettish, cheeky and stubborn. In theory, audition songs I select should enable casting directors to see which roles I could be appropriate for and possibly be cast for within their operatic season. This is similar to typecasting for actors in the Movie and Theatre World.

Well known examples of my current voice type: Beverly Sills, Kathleen Battle, Diana Damrau and Natalie Dessay.

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To end this evening I have included a link to my live recording of Danny Boy which I performed last week at the Tideswell Male Voice Choir’s Remembrance concert.  I was asked if I could share the video of my performance but unfortunately, my Dad was a little too wobbly with the video camera so I hope you enjoy the audio recording instead.

Remembrance Concert

November 11, 2018 — 61 Comments

 

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I have had a wonderful weekend of song, gathering with friends to remember the lives of those lost during the conflicts of the last Century.

I sang alongside the terrific Tideswell Male Voice Choir in Tideswell’s Armistice Concert on Saturday 10th November. Malcolm Bennison, the choirs’ Chairman, created an interesting and thoughtful program dedicated to telling the stories of the young men and women who fought for their freedom and their country. The concert picked out the tales of six young men who volunteered to fight in the First World War from the Tideswell area. Sadly they were amongst the many men from this local area who perished in the Great War. Their letters, stories, and family history were shared by three members of the Tideswell living History Group, Gill Adams, Ruth Wilson, and Janyce Ashley. These readings were introduced by Charles Foster, a successful voice-over artist best known for being the voice in the courtroom for Judge Rinder. Charles Foster also provided a narration for the evening bringing the memories to life for everyone present.

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The Choir Surprised Me With An Impromptu “Happy Birthday Song” At The End Of The Evening.

 

I performed a selection of songs suggested by Nick Montague, the Musical Director for the Tideswell Male Voice Choir, accompanied by the lovely Alison Wheeldon. These included:  “We’ll Meet Again”, “Danny Boy”, “Roses of Picardy”, “We’ll Gather Lilacs” and “Jerusalem” and I have included links to two of the recordings from the evening.

Roses of Picardy

We’ll Meet Again

Remember November

November 4, 2018 — 24 Comments

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Today’s Rachmaninov recital at Pushkin House in Bloomsbury, London was made extra special for me as my friends Hilary and Edwin journeyed into central London to come and support me. As this was my very first public performance of Russian song knowing that their friendly faces were in the audience gave me a huge boost. It was great to catch up with them during the event and I hope they had a safe journey home.  It was lovely to meet up with Norman Cooley who has been a huge help to me with both his advice and support when he comes along to my performances in London.

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The day went well and I was so pleased for Maya Soltan who has worked tirelessly putting these two recitals together and I wish her every success for next week’s recital. It was a joy to perform alongside such a talented group of performers in a fabulous setting.

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Next week I have been invited to perform as part of a Remembrance Concert that the Tideswell Male Voice Choir are presenting at the ‘Cathedral of The Peak’ St John The Baptist Church, Tideswell, in Derbyshire on Saturday 10th November 2018 at 7:30 pm.  The concert will be bringing together both the memories of Tideswell men who died in the Great War presented by Tideswell Living History Group and songs that became associated with great conflicts of the 20th Century.  We hope that the concert will help remember those who gave up so much in an uplifting and celebratory way so their memories live on as we strive to work together to keep the peace made possible by their sacrifices.

WW1 First World War Abstract Background with Poppy

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I hope you don’t mind me finishing my post today by sharing this video with you that is a celebration of ten years of contemporary art creations by my good blog friend Eric Jackson, he set his pictures to the Scots Song by James MacMillan which is one of my favourites from my Studies in Scotland. Eric has been such a source of inspiration for me as he has followed his own dream, and I would encourage you to check out some of his amazing work.

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Next Sunday 4th November 2018 I will be performing alongside a host of talented singers and musicians at Pushkin House which is the oldest independent Russian Cultural centre in the United Kingdom. The concert is one of two which has been organised by the fabulous Maya Soltan, the other will be held on Sunday 11th November 2018.  The two concerts aim to cover all of the songs by Sergey Rachmaninov in a rare opportunity to enjoy them all together through live performances.  Maya has been instrumental in both the arranging of the two concerts and the coaching and language preparation for the singers involved.

Rachmaninoff

Sergey Rachmaninov

The two concerts will feature in total 52 musicians from 12 different countries hand picked by Maya Soltan from the Royal Academy of Music, the Royal College of Music, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Trinity Laban Conservatoire, the Royal Northern College of Music and the Wales International Academy of Voice.  The songs will be introduced by Russian concert pianist Dr. Alexander Karpeyev.

The two songs that I will be performing in Russian are The Answer, Op. 21 no.4, The Lilacs, Op. 21 no.5.  I must personally thank Maya for her help whilst preparing these two songs as it will be my first performance in Russian and without her coaching, it would not have been possible.

More details about the two events and how to buy tickets can be found here.

Performers on the 4th November:

Tamsin Birch, Sofia Celenza, Charlotte Hoather, Mariya Irel, Joohyun Lee, Oxana Lepska, Laura Peresivana, Alice Usher, soprano

Kerri Dietz, Bethany Horak-Hallett, Malvina Maysuradze, Julia Portela Piñón, Rosamunde Thomas, mezzo-soprano

Damian Arnold, tenor

Jonathan de Garis, Adam Maxey, Theodore Platt, Luke Scott, baritone

Benjamin Shilperoort, bass-baritone

Sian Davies, Joe Howson, Rustam Khanmurzin, Esther Knight, Camille Lemonnier, Guy Murgatroyd, Harry Rylance, Maya Soltan, piano

Programme 4th November 2018:

Sergey Rachmaninov (1873-1943)

Morning, Op. 4 no.2
Oh, never sing to me again, Op. 4 no.4

A Prayer, Op. 8 no.6

The world would see thee smile, Op. 14 no.6
O, do not grieve, Op. 14 no.8
As fair as day in blaze of noon, Op. 14 no.9
Love’s flame, Op. 14 no.10
Spring Waters, Op. 14 no.11
Tis time, Op. 14 no.12

The Answer, Op. 21 no.4
The Lilacs, Op. 21 no.5
On the death of a Linnet, Op. 21 no.8
Before the Image, Op. 21 no.10
No Prophet I, Op. 21 no.11
Sorrow in Springtime, Op. 21 no.12

Beloved, let us fly, Op. 26 no.5
Christ is risen Op. 26 no.6
Let me rest here alone, Op. 26 no.9
When yesterday we met, Op. 26 no.13
The Ring, Op. 26 no.14

The Soul’s Concealment, Op. 34 no.2
So dread a fate I’ll never believe, Op. 34 no.7

In my garden at night, Op. 38 no.1
Daisies, Op. 38 no.3
Dreams, Op. 38 no.5

C’etait en Avril (1891)

The Flower has faded (1893)

Were you hiccupping? (1899)

Letter to Stanislavsky (1908)

Visiting The Shetland Isles

September 30, 2018 — 29 Comments

Our short stay in Shetland came to an end last Sunday, 23rd September and I wrote this whilst sat in Sumburgh Airport, with a hot cup of tea beside me and lots of sweet memories and photos to pass the time.

Island View

This beautiful island is home to many wonderful views and walks. The unspoiled countryside, dotted with herds of sheep and cows, the occasional Shetland pony, (who actually seem to come in pairs – ready for Noah’s ark perhaps) makes for a beautiful drive to the airport from Lerwick. I must admit one of the strangest differences in the landscape is that there were almost no trees, apart from ones grown lovingly on private property.

Beautiful Town

Fields were divided by walls of layered slate and grey rocks, it reminded me of one of my favourite films, Stardust where a dry-stone wall divided the real realm from the magical.

The air on the island is magnificently fresh, yet at times it can be quite ferocious if you get caught in between two winds on the beach that links to St. Ninian’s aisle. It was worth it though, as the team and I galloped across the sandy beach – with no plastic or human waste in sight! The crystal blue water kissed both sides of the shell-sand tombolo beach, creating a heavenly pathway to the quiet island.

Lerwick was a delightful town, decorated with bunting which reminded me of my childhood when Knutsford was decorated for the May Day parade. The cobbled streets were decorated with the quaint window displays of hairdressers, soap shops, restaurants, and an amazing Shetland Fudge Shop. One of their specialties is a candy called Puffin Poo, a tasty recipe of white Belgian chocolate with toasted rice and mallow, hand rolled in coconut. A local favourite.

Puffin Poo

 

As well as exploring the town, I performed in BambinO with Scottish Opera at the Mareel Theatre, who magnificently recreated the poster out of origami clouds that hung from the ceiling and a hand-drawn blackboard sign, which welcomed families in the foyer. The stage sat in a cosy wooden paneled venue and our four shows were welcomed by a friendly and very enthusiastic audience. I enjoy performing this show so much, because each performance is so different which in turns keeps the story-telling alive, and visiting places like this reminds me how important music and the arts are to local communities.

 

Last week, I invited my blog friends to ask me a question about my involvement in the world of opera that I could expand into an article for my weekly blog. I have set myself the challenge to try and answer these questions in the comments or allow them to inspire me to create a full article. So here it goes!

John W. Howell asked me: “How do I keep my voice in shape for a demanding performance schedule?”

My initial answer to John’s question was: “Years and years of the best vocal training by classically trained teachers, vocal warm-ups and cooldowns, lots of water to drink, honey and lemon and specialist teas. I don’t often drink alcohol, I’ve never smoked and I rest my voice when I need to.”

I would love to take the time today to expand on my answer and provide a more detailed response, so here goes!

As an opera singer, I can’t sing all day long. I seem to have been saying this on repeat recently to potential landlords and letting agents when they ask me about my job. I promise I am not noisy 24/7 and that I am conscious of my neighbours!  I have to plan my practice and use of my voice in the rehearsal room, the amount that I can sing in a day does fluctuate but most days I actively sing for 2- 3 hours.

In order to sing operatic music, like an athlete, I need to warm up the muscles that become engaged when I am singing. I usually begin most days with a 20-30 minute warm up. This includes some gentle humming exercises, scales, and arpeggios progressing to coloratura exercises to maintain flexibility in my vocal range. This allows my voice to work at its best. However, sometimes my schedule doesn’t allow for a generous warm-up time, because of available space at the rehearsal venue or the time of the rehearsal/lesson. So, if I know in advance that I will have limited time to warm up my voice before I leave home I will try to do a simple yoga routine or gentle stretches so that my body is better prepared. I personally love using “Yoga with Adrienne” on youtube. She has had a channel for many years now and has built up a great selection of videos for beginners and regulars. In the rehearsal room, there may be occasions when you have to mark your vocal line, this can mean singing quieter, down the octave [the melody but an octave lower – closer to speaking pitch] or even speaking. The important thing is that you don’t lower your energy level or enunciation of the text as this can cause issues for your colleagues.

So what is my experience of a demanding performance schedule?

This summer I experienced a busy period working with professional companies. I performed in three Operas spreading over July, August, and September. Each brought with it its own individual challenges.

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Candide involved a regular rehearsal period over four weeks. The positive outcome for this style of schedule allowed me to create the role of Cunegonde in great detail. I had time to learn and grow with the character, experiment with different reactions to the same series of unfortunate events, and her relationships towards the other characters in the Opera. [slipping in the title of one my favourite childhood book series there written by Lemony Snicket ]. However, my commute to the rehearsal venue was long and often I would return home very late in the evening.  In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and my vocal stamina, I would try to unwind on my commute home, listening to music or downloading a TV program on my phone for the journey, this enabled me to relax so that when I got home I could still manage to get straight off to sleep. I would always try to bring a packed lunch and a prepared dinner if I was away from home all day. I would try to eat this at a similar time each day so that my body kept up a digestive routine. I found that this resulted in me feeling less fatigue and my voice was still supple for evening rehearsals, I didn’t feel restless because I knew that I would have access to a balanced diet. I could use my rest time on my dinner break to actually relax, rather than use the limited time desperately trying to find a place to eat, which was close to the rehearsal venue, that wasn’t too expensive, and which offered healthy food.

Mansfield Park - Jonathan Dove - Waterperry Opera Festival - 17th August 2018 Director/Designer - Rebecca Meltzer Musical Director - Ashley Beauchamp Maria Bertram - Charlotte Hoather Julia Bertram - Sarah Anne Champion Aunt Norris - Andrea Tweedale Mar

After the performances of Candide were over I went straight onto working on Mansfield Park production. Thankfully before we traveled to the Minack Theatre in Cornwall, I had a week of rest, [with no rehearsals scheduled by Surrey Opera]. Knowing that once we finished the performances I would have only one week before the rehearsals begin for Mansfield Park. I decided to get a head start on learning quite a difficult score by using my week off before the Candide performances to start my preparations for Mansfield Park. I recorded the libretto with two friends, both fantastic Mezzo Sopranos, Brigette and Hannah on an app.  The app was recommended to me by my wonderful friend Frances Thorburn, who I worked with on The Little White Town Of Never Weary and who now plays Kim Monroe on River City, a very popular Scottish Soap Opera.

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Frances has to learn a huge amount of lines each day for filming, she encouraged me to try this method because you can practise the whole script by yourself. It provides you with options to listen to scenes on repeat, isolate your lines or provide timed gaps so that you can speak your lines in. This style of memorising is very useful to me as an artist as I can learn the text, without having to sing too much. This allows me to use my singing time on specific musical goals and technically tricky areas. What I didn’t expect to learn from this, was that because I broke up the learning and began it earlier, most of what I learned had settled and made the week revising it musically before rehearsals so much more relaxed. It was still stressful, and I needed to work hard to learn the whole score off copy, but I felt positive and that I could achieve it because of the groundwork I put in. This kind of positive mental attitude and a relaxed mindset allows me to stay in top physical condition. If I become too stressed I know that my body is more susceptible to picking up a virus or other illness. I now always try to plan in break times and aim to finish my work for the day no later than 9:00pm, unless a rehearsal schedule goes over this.

Mansfield Park - Jonathan Dove - Waterperry Opera Festival - 17th August 2018 Director/Designer - Rebecca Meltzer Musical Director - Ashley Beauchamp Maria Bertram - Charlotte Hoather Julia Bertram - Sarah Anne Champion Aunt Norris - Andrea Tweedale Mar

Once the performances for Mansfield Park came to a close, I was then able to move onto preparation for BambinO. The benefit of having this opera at the end of a busy run was that I knew the music and the staging inside out, although the new team had changes that I had to adjust to quickly. I had a recording from a previous performance that I would use to run through the staging and I practised my part musically at the piano. During the week I managed to squeeze in a coaching session with Christopher Middleton where we worked on my current aria package, he is so insightful and I appreciate all his help and advice. This meant that I had a little extra breathing space to begin planning my next projects as I also needed to move out of my room at Student Halls and find somewhere new to live in London. I was so grateful that I knew this opera because I found moving lodgings quite stressful.   I like to plan ahead of time, but the rental market in London moves very fast and I didn’t sign a contract for a new place until the morning before my flight to Aberdeen! Knowing that I knew the music allowed me to feel calm and in control. I hope that in the future I will be able to bear this in mind when planning work and projects.

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I have had a great summer and feel energised for the upcoming months. I have learned how to multi-task projects better and I am thankful that I have been able to maintain my vocal health and stamina. What I didn’t expect to learn from this, was that because I kept up my vocal practise, i.e. singing for 6 days a week that my recovery time after taking a long weekend off was much quicker which allowed me to perform challenging coloratura arias with the fast runs sounding smoother, in fewer practise days, allowing me to work on my personal targets sooner. Whilst touring Scotland I took the advantage of meeting up with Judith Howarth, my singing teacher from my time at the RCS.  She helped me with my bel canto phrasing and floating and after my time with her, I left feeling re-energised and motivated for the months ahead.

The Scottish Tour Continues

September 9, 2018 — 52 Comments

One of the great things I enjoy about my work is visiting new places, traveling to locations that I may not otherwise have had the opportunity to visit.  Last Thursday, 6th September, I traveled North from London to Aberdeen to join the new cast of BambinO, Hazel McBain ( Uccellina ), Samuel Pantcheff ( Pulcino ), Andrew Drummond Huggan ( Cello ) Michael D Clark ( Percussion ).

It was exciting to watch them perform together on Friday before putting my Uccellina costume back on again to take over from Hazel, who leaves to take up her place on a Young Artist Programme in Salzburg.

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Today we moved on to Inverness where we have four more performances on Monday and Tuesday at Eden Court Theatre, Bishops Road, Inverness at 10:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. each day.

You can get the details of the rest of the tour here:

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Earlier this week I received an email from the Editor of WordPress Discover to let me know that I had been selected to be showcased as an Editor’s Pick on their Discover page and Home Page.   It was quite exciting to be chosen and to share my blog with visitors to the WordPress site.  They have also asked me to take part in a question and answer session which will hopefully be featured on their site, I will let you know if it gets published.

But it got me thinking, that after five years blogging about my studies that it would be interesting for me to ask you if you have any questions that I could answer for you on my profession or expand on in a future blog post?  For example, maybe you would like me to interview a Stage Manager to find out more about the role they play in an opera production.  Or interview an instrumentalist to see if there are any parallels between their study path and that of an opera singer.  Perhaps you may want to know more about costume design for the stage, or where the costumes are stored after each performance.

Whatever the question I will try my best to answer it and hopefully add some new topics that be suitable for blog posts to share with you all over the coming year.

My Summer Reprise

September 2, 2018 — 72 Comments

As the summer draws to a close and the autumn approaches I wanted to put together a short reprise of what I have been up to since graduating from the Royal College of Music Masters course at the beginning of July.

The first event of the summer was my recital with the Tideswell Male Voice Choir on the 29th June 2018, such a joy to sing alongside my old friends.

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Followed on the 3rd and 4th July with my entry into this year’s Llangollen International Eisteddfod for the Pendine International Voice of the Future competition. What a fabulous place to perform, and being selected as this year’s winner was the icing on the cake. I have added some extra pictures to my original post and hope you get the chance to check them out if you haven’t already seen them.

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Then on to the Minack Theatre, near Lands End in beautiful Cornwall where I performed the role of Cunegonde in Surrey Opera’s production of Candide 16th to 20th July 2018

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The Minack Theatre reviewer Jenni Barlow wrote that ‘her ears were ringing and singing with sheer ecstasy and my head is still spinning with delight after watching one of the Minack’s most exhilarating musical productions….the voices of its nine principle singers are sublime…, with Charlotte Hoather giving a remarkable performance on the opening night, effortlessly hitting the top, very high notes, as well as achieving perfect comic timing, in partnership with the impeccable Stephen Anthony Brown.’ I was thrilled when this was sent to me.

After traveling back to London for rehearsals, it was on to Waterperry House in Oxfordshire to perform the role of Maria Bertram in Waterperry Opera Festival’s production of Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park.  The production received a five-star review in Bachtrack this week by Charlotte Valori,    “Waterperry Opera Festival has broken new ground in its first season, opening with an ambitiously broad programme which presented four different works in four different spaces […] The jewel of these four was the chance to see Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park in the period-perfect setting of Waterperry House […] Charlotte Hoather’s precocious, determined Maria Bertram displayed a deep and sensitive understanding of her complex character […] Mansfield Park sparkled with wit and ingenuity from start to finish.”

Mansfield Park - Jonathan Dove - Waterperry Opera Festival - 17th August 2018 Director/Designer - Rebecca Meltzer Musical Director - Ashley Beauchamp Maria Bertram - Charlotte Hoather Julia Bertram - Sarah Anne Champion Aunt Norris - Andrea Tweedale Mar

Now having had such a wonderful summer full of learning, I have to start preparations for next year, starting the audition process all over again.  I have a couple of smaller projects underway at present and can’t wait to share them with you as Autumn progresses. But until then I have my return to the role of Uccellina in BambinO for Scottish Opera in their tour this September.

One of the locations that we will be visiting is Lerwick in the Shetland Isles and I was excited to see my blog friend Cindy Knoke’s blog post today on the Town, the most Northerly town in the UK, with some amazing pictures.

What a fabulous week I have had at Waterperry House and Gardens, working with a great cast and creative team to bring Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park to life.

Mansfield Park - Jonathan Dove - Waterperry Opera Festival - 17th August 2018

Director/Designer - Rebecca Meltzer
Musical Director - Ashley Beauchamp

Maria Bertram - Charlotte Hoather
Julia Bertram - Sarah Anne Champion
Aunt Norris - Andrea Tweedale
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The company used the duck egg blue ballroom lit by natural sunlight and a twinkling chandelier to stage the production. The setting was inspirational, and once we got into our costumes we were taken back to a time of regency and romance. The audience enveloped the performance space in a way that felt quite intimate, enabling us to bring the story to life sharing close encounters and family squabbles.

On Saturday for our premiere, we were thrilled to see Jonathan Dove in the audience who said afterward that he thoroughly enjoyed the performance.  I was interested to learn from him that he wrote the opera to be accompanied by a piano duet (also known as piano four hands), because Jane Austin was a keen piano player who loved to play piano duets with friends. He wanted to create a sound world that he could imagine her living within.

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My family came to watch on Saturday too and my Grandad said how much he enjoyed the production. I remember trying to not break from my character and smile and laugh at his reactions as the story developed, I am slowly converting him to the world of opera as he now looks forward to each new piece that I introduce him to.

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I had a wonderful time working with the company created by Rebecca Meltzer, Guy Withers, and Bertie Baigent, their other shows were great successes too! Don Giovanni, which was performed in the outdoor Amphitheatre was incredibly moving and the Peter Rabbit adaptation for narrator and string quartet that took place in the tranquil rose garden was exquisite and very humorous! Whilst on site, we lived in the house. I shared a room with some of my colleagues who were fabulous company, we told stories, shared sweets and movie nights. It was like the dormitory experience I had always wished for. The wonderful cooks Wendy and Kate provided delicious vegetarian meals throughout the day, I was astonished that I enjoyed my meat-free week so much! I think I may even copy a few of their recipes and add them to my own recipe bank.

Considering that this was the Inaugural year, Rebecca Meltzer, Guy Withers, and Bertie Baigent did an amazing job bringing everything together so smoothly, it was an enormous undertaking and I wish them every success in the future for their festival.

They have kindly allowed me to share some of their pictures from the production taken by Robert Workman.

Mansfield Park - Jonathan Dove - Waterperry Opera Festival - 17th August 2018

Director/Designer - Rebecca Meltzer
Musical Director - Ashley Beauchamp

Maria Bertram - Charlotte Hoather
Julia Bertram - Sarah Anne Champion
Aunt Norris - Andrea Tweedale
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Cast

LADY BERTRAM – Emily Gray
SIR THOMAS BERTRAM – Phil Wilcox
EDMUND BERTRAM – Milo Harries
JULIA BERTRAM – Sarah Anne Champion
MARIA BERTRAM – Charlotte Hoather
HENRY CRAWFORD – David Horton
MARY CRAWFORD – Eleanor Sanderson-Nash
AUNT NORRIS  – Andrea Tweedale
FANNY PRICE – Flora Macdonald
MR RUSHWORTH – Lawrence Thackeray

Creative Team

DIRECTOR – Rebecca Meltzer
MUSICAL DIRECTOR – Ashley Beauchamp
RÉPÉTITEUR​ – Will Ford
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR – Margaret Ravalde
COSTUME MAKER – Jane Black
COSTUME ASSISTANT – Bronte Macfadyean
PUPPET MAKER – Jo Lakin
STAGE MANAGER – May Howard-Shigeno
PRODUCTION MANAGER – Guy Withers