Archives For Berlin

Following three amazing weeks of rehearsals culminating in two exhilarating performances, my time in Berlin was coming to an end.  I had been so busy finding my way between language classes, coaching and the rehearsal spaces that I hadn’t really had much time to do any sightseeing.

My parents had come out to Berlin to watch my performance and to spend  a few days in the City. On my last day with my travel pass in hand I met up with my Mum, Dad and brother Tom and we did a whistle stop tour of Berlin.

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We started near to where I had stayed in Berlin in the area aptly called “Charlottenburg” which was an independent City until 1920 when it became part of “Groß-Berlin” Greater Berlin”.  We wandered around the gardens of the “Charlottenburg Palace” and then decided to take a look inside.  The palace was originally built in the 17th Century and expanded by Frederick the Great in the early 1700s. The palace had been wonderfully restored to its former beauty and each room gave you a little insight into the lives of the people who had lived there.

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After leaving Charlottenburg we made our way by train and tram to Kleistpark where I had my last class of my course, following which I met up with parents again at Alexanderplatz.  Tom wanted to go up to the top of the Berlin TV Tower so they went to get the tickets whilst I was in class.  The trip to the top of the tower was really quick by lift and the views from the top over the city were fabulous.

We grabbed something to drink and then it was off to the “East Side Gallery” which runs along the river Spree on Mühlenstraße.  It is the longest section of the original Berlin wall left standing and following the collapse of the Berlin wall the eastern facing side was converted into an open-air gallery by over 100 artists. It was quite surreal to walk along it and trying to understand what it must have been like to feel constrained by such an omnipresent construction.

 

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The Eastern Side Of The Wall

 

 

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The Western Side Of The Wall

 

 

We finished off the day at Potsdamer Platz where we stopped to eat.  The area has changed beyond all recognition since the fall of the wall as the area has been reconstructed with new shopping complexes, public areas and office developments.  However there is a permanent reminder of where the wall had been as a line of bricks makes its way across the square to where a small section of the wall still remains.

 

We ended the day walking towards the Brandenburg Gate and stopped at the Holocaust Memorial.  The memorial was quite thought provoking as it has been constructed using 2711 concrete slabs of differing heights with the ground falling away as you walk between them. As you walk between the slabs you seem to just disappear to anyone watching, a very eerie experience.

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Finally at the Brandenburg Gate we stopped to take few pictures but as the weather was starting to change we decided to run for the bus, as we passed the Reichstag we could see the bus we needed just pulling into the stop.  We only just made it with seconds to spare and as the bus pulled away the rains started. After a little bit of shelter, I finished my evening with a great get together with the rest of the cast and company.

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There is so much more to see and do, I do hope I can come back and explore a little more.

 

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Underneath The Iconic Berlin Landmark – The Brandenburg Gate

 

Goodness! my time in Berlin has flown by and what a whirlwind it has been! I have loved living in Germany for three weeks and I definitely would love to go back in the future.

 

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Singing During The Opera Gala Concert

 

 

I have had the wonderful opportunity to meet and work alongside so many wonderful and talented singers from all over the world. I wish them all the success for their futures and I’m sure I will see them again on the opera stage.

For myself, the most interesting piece of knowledge that I have gained is that your own artistic individuality is key to your performance, allowing you to enjoy being the person you are on and offstage. Like a wonderful piece of art some people will love you and others,  whose tastes differ may not. But I know that if I sing with all my heart, demonstrating who I am as a performer with my own bells and whistles, then I know that I can be honest with the story and let my body sing from my soul.

I would like to thank all the staff at the Berlin Opera Academy for a wonderful experience and I hope to catch up with them all again in the future.

Here are some pictures which were taken during one of our rehearsals of Carmen and I hope they give you a flavour of the production.

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Looking forward to my next projects and the big move to London!

My First Week In Berlin

August 7, 2016 — 83 Comments

I arrived in Germany on Sunday evening last week and since then I have had such a fabulous time.

Monday to Saturday my day was scheduled to begin at 10 am finishing at late evening. We work on the staging of Carmen, singing lessons, movement, and coaching. The whole experience has been so wonderful, but also very tiring, so I was relieved to have the day off today.

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A traditional day at the Berlin Opera Academy begins with a movement class for an hour with Andrea Danae Kingston, who is an energetic character to ignite our energies in the mornings. At 11:00 we then move on to production rehearsal, which involves staging scenes from Carmen with Gidon Saks. His direction is feisty and full of drama. It is great to work with him as an artist as every musical phrase has a new energy and thought to provoke the flow of the storytelling. Peter Leonard, our conductor, also leads these sessions to encourage us to keep the integrity of the written music and to ensure that the music reflects the drama. The whole cast and production team are wonderful to work with, and everybody is compassionate and encouraging towards one another.

It has been an adventure living and working in Berlin as I have had to get used to the public transport system here which is very well organised and enables you to get from
A to B very efficiently. If anyone is visiting, I greatly recommend using the app BVG fahrinfo to help you get around. It has made my life much easier, especially since my average travel time from home to each of the rehearsal spaces is 45 minutes including multiple changes. I hope it has prepared me for tube life in London. Learning lessons everywhere in everyday situations!

 

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On Saturday after a day of rehearsals we all got the opportunity to get our glad rags on and take to the stage and perform in the Opera Gala. We performed in a beautiful museum setting in the Mendelssohn-Remise, which was a very poetic setting for songs about love and loss. We all had a wonderful time, and I am excited about the lieder concert next Saturday.

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Xenia Cumento, Caitlin Redding, Me, Julie Cowger, Beeth Mirahver and kneeling down Ivory Logins.

 

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My Carmen Girls, Victoria Graves (Mercedes), Rebeca Fjallsby (Carmen) and Me (Frasquita)

 

 

 

 

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Pauline Pelosi and Me

 

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I can’t wait to get back into it tomorrow!

On my day off today, I was able to explore a little more of Berlin, and I came across an eccentric flea market, Berliner Trödelmarkt which stretches out across large boulevards near the Tiergarten in Charlottenburg. The products on sale ranged from fashion, stamps and collectibles, gifts, art, furniture, food, and ornaments. It was so wonderful to see each store holders personality in the collections of items that they sold or created by hand.

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Later in the afternoon I then had a singing lesson and then chilled out at the flat with my beautiful flatmates and friends from the course.

All Systems Go

July 31, 2016 — 70 Comments

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All systems go this week as we launch into an exciting project that will span over the next few weeks.

Earlier in the year I successfully auditioned for the part of Frasquita in the Berlin Opera Academy production of Carmen, and today, I’m travelling to the fabulous city of Berlin in Germany to join the rest of the cast for the rehearsals. I must thank the Hope Scott Trust for generously agreeing to cover the costs of my flights so that I could take up this opportunity. The Director has been inspired by choreographer and dancer Bob Fosse so I’m very excited to be part of the production because I get the chance to incorporate dance movement with emotive arias while wearing fringe, mesh, and velvet costumes.

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Some Of The Buildings Here In Berlin Are So Colourful

But before getting stuck in I was invited to work with Scottish Opera Connect on the role of ‘Serpina’ in “La Serva Padrona” by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. I enjoyed preparing this role, with a character that packs a punch with a lot of cheeky smiles.  On my arrival back in Glasgow, I was thrilled to be asked by Scottish Opera Connect to take on the role of guest vocal coach and teacher.  It felt strange at first for me to be the person leading the lesson but I quickly settled into it and taught one-to-one lessons with Ruth Wilkinson a wonderful experienced pianist accompanying and I worked with a team of fabulous musicians to coach the ensembles.

Participating in the project was a great experience for me as it provided me with my first official teaching job after completing my degree and it was so exciting to work with young voices and use exercises and games to help improve and create what I hope were positive results for the students.

On Friday morning, alongside Andy McTaggart the former Scottish Opera Emerging Artist, I performed for the Connect Company and Andy and I held a “Question & Answer” session about music in higher education and the possibilities available to graduates moving onwards into the business. This experience was very surreal for me as it made me realise that I am now considered a professional singer, and over the last four years I have accomplished some exciting things. When answering I tried to be as honest and helpful with my answers as I could be, then afterwards I thought to myself that I would have loved an opportunity like this at the age of the group (14-17), who were all on a summer residency a training week for young singers auditioning to become members of the Connect Chorus.

Last night ( Saturday ) I went to support my friend Keanon Kyles from Chicago, America. He was performing his first UK appearance in the role ‘Colline’ from “La Boheme” by Puccini with Clyde Opera. The performance was thrilling and full of dramatic character and beautifully set. It was so wonderful to see the result of the hard work he had put in, as he told me all about the build up to the performance during his visit to Glasgow.

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Keanon Kyles and Me