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.
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.
Looking forward to my next projects and the big move to London!
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.
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!
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.
Xenia Cumento, Caitlin Redding, Me, Julie Cowger, Beeth Mirahver and kneeling down Ivory Logins.
My Carmen Girls, Victoria Graves (Mercedes), Rebeca Fjallsby (Carmen) and Me (Frasquita)
Pauline Pelosi and Me
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.
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 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.
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.
On Thursday night I had the pleasure to watch Carmen at Theatre Royal, in Glasgow with my friend Jessica.
Scottish Opera’s production was full of heat and energy, despite its beige stage design (but I might be biased as my favourite colour is rainbow), Carmen (Justina Gringyte) and Don José (Noah Stewart) shared some passionate moments and a Spanish flair was created through flamenco dancing and ruffled skirts.
The chorus and small roles interacted well with the props to create some really wonderful effects that captured the audience’s attention. A great example of this was during the Toreador fight, appearing in the last act, where the performers stood at an elevated line of rope and acted reactions to the fight in slow motion accompanied by lighting affects similar to those from my high school disco which combined to make time to stand still in the middle of all the excitement.
It was brilliant also to watch two former students of the RCS perform in the chorus; Heather Jameison and Luke Sinclair both stood out due to their great charisma on stage and commitment to their characters.
I found it very useful to watch this production which involved the use of a minimal set and interaction with props as during this year I will be performing in a scene from an opera with my colleagues from the RCS, which will probably be performed in a space with only props to set the scene. I learnt some interesting tricks on how to take advantage of the space during an aria whilst being isolated against large backdrops, also the importance of interacting with other characters on stage to create atmosphere and to progress the story.
Georges Bizet’s ‘Carmen’ premiered in Paris on the 3rd March 1875 and ran for only 36 performances as the audiences reacted with indifference to the production. Sadly Bizet died at the age of only 36 before the initial run was completed and never knew the success that his opera would eventually achieve. Following a series of performances around Europe it returned to Paris in 1883, growing in popularity becoming a firm favourite of Parisian audiences. It is still one of the best known operas and its arias the “Habanera” sung by Carmen and the “Toreador Song” sung by Escamillo are probably two of the most recognisable operatic songs.
Maria Callas – “Habanera”
From the movie Carmen, with Julia Migenes-Johnson as Carmen, Placido Domingo as Don José , and Ruggero Raimondi as El Matador.
The opera was written by Bizet in the style of Opera Comique which allowed for dialogue to be used between the arias. The story demonstrates the destructive power that an unrequited love can produce.
We follow the life of an innocent and naïve young soldier Don José who has been promised in matrimony by his mother to his childhood sweetheart Micaëla. However he encounters a wild and intoxicating young Gypsy woman who completely captivates him changing the direction of his life forever.
Following his first encounter when he is beguiled by Carmen she manages to persuade him to release her from jail, for his actions he then finds himself locked up for a month. When he gets released he searches out Carmen who he meets in an Inn. As the evening progresses he knows that he should return to his barracks but she asks him to desert and leave with her. He wrestles with his emotions but finds the decision is made for him following a fight in the Inn with a superior officer, he now cannot go back and leaves his military life behind and sneaks off with Carmen.
But all soon unravels for Don José as Carmen starts to get bored with him. Micaëla who has been searching for Don José finds them both and pleads with José to leave Carmen and return home. Despite feeling the sting of Carmen’s sharp tongue José is determined to stay with her until Micaëla tells him that his Mother is dying. Don José swears to return to Carmen as soon as he can as he is concerned that she has become infatuated with the bullfighter Escamillo.
The story comes to its dramatic conclusion as we find Carmen at the bullfight with Escamillo who sing of their love for each other. Carmen when confronted by Don José throws his ring back at him and attempts to enter the arena to be with Escamillo. Don José blinded by his emotions and filled with rage at being cast aside by Carmen after all his sacrifices for her, lunges at her stabbing her. As Carmen lays dying Don José proclaims his love for her and as the tragedy comes to its conclusion Don José confesses to killing Carmen.
The production has now moved to tour the Highlands and will end its run in Edinburgh
His Majesty’s Theatre, Rosemount Viaduct, Aberdeen AB25 1GL
Thu 22 Oct 7.30pm•Sat 24 Oct 7.30pm
Eden Court, Bishops Road, Inverness IV3 5SA
Tue 27 Oct 7.15pm•Thu 29 Oct 7.15pm•Sat 31 Oct 7.15pm
Festival Theatre, 13–29 Nicolson Street, Edinburgh EH8 9FT
Tue 3 Nov 7.15pm•Fri 6 Nov 7.15pm•Sun 8 Nov 4.00pm
Thu 12 Nov 7.15pm•Sat 14 Nov 7.15pm