Archives For Benjamin Britten

Britten Opera Scenes

January 29, 2017 — 51 Comments

On Friday I had the pleasure to share the stage with my wonderful colleagues in a set of Opera Scenes produced by the Royal College of Music. The scenes were all from the works of Benjamin Britten to mark the 30th anniversary of the building of the Benjamin Britten Theatre at the College and included:

The Rape of Lucretia
Albert Herring
Turn Of The Screw
Owen Wingrave
Billy Budd
A Middummer Night’s Dream
Paul Bunyan

The week leading up to the performance was well organised and very slick. Each scene had its own separate rehearsal on Monday to iron out any wrinkles and make any final corrections. Then on Wednesday and Thursday we began running the scenes together to get a sense of timings and a feel for the overall production.

It was brilliant to be able to support and watch my colleagues as we began bringing the show together. We then added curtain calls, lighting and special effects. Then on Friday we came in early to do our make up and hair. After that we finally got to wear our costumes and worked out any last-minute niggles and the timings for the quick changes. Then after these two rehearsals we performed the show at 5:30.

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Carly Owen and Me

I performed as Flora from “Turn Of The Screw”, alongside Ashlyn Tymms as ‘Mrs Grouse’, Carly Owen as ‘The Governess’ and Josephine Goddard as ‘Miss Jessel’. I had a great time preparing for the scene alongside these fantastic singers and I hope we can work together again in the future.

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Eleanor Sanderson-Nash, Carly Owen, Harry Thatcher, Me and Amy Manford

I also took on the part of one of the fairies in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” with Amy Manford as ‘Tytania’, Feargal Mostyn-Williams as ‘Oberon’, Stephen Mills as ‘Lysander’, Beth Moxon as ‘Hermia’, Eleanor Sanderson-Nash as ‘Helana’, Harry Thatcher as Demetrius, Rory Carver as ‘Puck’. Eleanor Sanderson-Nash, Carly Owen, and Ida Ranzlov were the other Fairies. It was so much fun to be part of such an enthusiastic group of performers and I had an amazing time.

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The Whole Cast

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Timothy Edlin, Eleanor Sanderson-Nash, Carly Owen, Me, and Amy Manford

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Me with Ida Ranzlov

 

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Rory Carver, Me and Amy Manford

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Me and Director, Lorenzo Mariani

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Timothy Edlin and Richard Pinkstone

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Beth Moxon and Me

To end my post tonight I would like to wish you all a happy and prosperous Chinese New Year as we enter the year of the Rooster.

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A Busy Few Weeks

January 22, 2017 — 48 Comments

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This weekend I have been able to catch up with some sleep and spend a little time with friends ahead of what will be a busy three weeks for me.

Next Friday I will be performing alongside some amazing singers from the Royal College of Music in the first set of opera scenes for 2017.  The rehearsals for these scenes enter their final week, and I am so excited to see how they all come together.  I will be singing the part of Flora in a scene from Benjamin Britten’s ‘Turn Of The Screw’, directed by Lorenzo Mariani, with Josephine Goddard, Carly Owen and Ashlyn Tymms.

I will also be singing the part of one of the fairies in a scene from another of Britten’s operas, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, directed by John Copley.  The cast for this scene is a little bigger to accommodate all the characters needed and is made up of Rory Carver, Amy Manford, Steven Mills, Feargal Mostyn-Williams, Beth Moxon, Carly Owen, Ida Ranzlov, Eleanor Sanderson-Nash, Harry Thatcher, and myself.

Each scene was cast before Christmas, and we received the music in time for the Christmas break so that we could be off copy by the beginning of January.  At the beginning of January, I had a couple of one to one coaching sessions with the conductor, Christopher Middleton, to go over my musical part in isolation of the others but with piano accompaniment.  Following our independent study, we had a music call bringing all of the singers together to see how we performed as an ensemble.  Then we did a music call on stage for the director, enabling him to get used to sound in the performance space.  Once the director was comfortable with our sound, we started work on the staging of the scene. Each Director brought a little bit of their individual flair to each scene which the actress in me found fascinating.

The whole process of how the performance is brought together is quite amazing, the way the Director visualises the scene and goes about instructing and inspiring us all to bring their idea to life never ceases to amaze me.  To be part of their vision is something quite special for me and I hope that I do the parts justice for them.

It has been a wonderful experience for me to work with everyone who is involved in the production and I want to say a special thank you to the staff in the costume department here at the RCM who have the task of producing and altering all the costumes.  Putting on the costumes really helps you become the character that you are being asked to portray, which I hope adds that little bit extra to our performances on stage.

There are just a few tickets left for this performance, and if you are in London on the 27th January and want to come down and support us the show starts at 17:30 and is free, but you need to order a ticket from the RCM website.

I will try and get permission to take some pictures backstage next week and if I can I will share them with you.

Owen Wingrave

May 8, 2016 — 38 Comments

On Saturday, I had the pleasure to watch the opening night performance of Benjamin Britain’s ‘Owen Wingrave’ at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Owen Wingrave

I must admit that it isn’t one of my favourite operas but I thought that the singers performed very convincingly and kept me engaged. I particularly enjoyed the four female characters in the ensemble pieces, their voices blended beautifully and created an interesting dynamic against the backdrop of the spooky grey mansion setting.

I was intrigued with the set design and lighting which was very atmospheric and interacted well with the performance space to create effects of new rooms and corridors. This gave the stage the look of a large country mansion devoid of warmth and coldly diseased due to the emptiness caused by the loss of family to ‘War’.

As a contrast to the visual setting it was lovely to hear the voices of the children’s choir in the second act, as they provided an eerie colour to the already tense storyline.

The direction of the opera was excellent and I found the use a young boy actor in the prologue intriguing as it helped set the scene by explaining the story behind the haunted room within the mansion. Another directorial highlight for me was the use of six young soldiers, who entered the space to suggest the night terrors Owen experienced about War.

There are  further performances on Monday 9th May, Wednesday 11th May and Friday 13th May.

Update: fab 4⭐️ review “Moving and brilliant: Owen Wingrave” @RCStweets 

RCSOn another note, I will be culminating my studies at the conservatoire with a recital on 25th May 2016.

It would be lovely to see some supportive and friendly faces in the audience 😊

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This is a folk song of Scottish origin of which there are innumerable versions. The modern lyrics ‘the Water is Wide’ was named by Cecil Sharp in 1906 from multiple other sources in Southern England, following English lyrics with a different story.

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Benjamin Britten

 

Benjamin Britten used the melody and verses of The Water is Wide for his version in 1948 which doesn’t have the O Waly Waly verse yet is still called O Waly Waly.

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Kathleen Ferrier

 

The modern version of the song was sung by Pete Seeger in the folk revival. It has also been recorded by Sarah Brightman, Janet Baker, Sir Thomas Allen whose masterclass at the RCS I attended last week, and Kathleen Ferrier to name just a few.

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Meeting Sir Thomas Allen Following A Masterclass At The RCS

 

Here is a performance that I recorded back in August 2013 whilst performing at a recital in Lytham St Annes accompanied by Russell Lomas.

I have really enjoyed publishing these posts on the songs from my album and if you want to check them out again you can find them by selecting Canzoni D’Amore on the menu bar. I do hope that you have enjoyed reading about them.