Archives For La Rondine

When my Mum and Dad offered to write a short review of La Rondine I must admit I was a little nervous, after following my performances for the past 14 years asking for their opinion reminds me of the line from “Pirates of The Caribbean” – “Wake… the Kraken”  as you never quite know what they are going to say……

We were pleasantly surprised that there was such a lovely theatre nestled inside the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, it was beautifully laid out and very well organised, around 300 seats on three tiers, with a large stage area and an orchestra pit.  The doors opened at 7:05pm and everyone was in their seats by 7:15pm.

We’d guess there were about 40 musicians in the orchestra who were hidden from view bar the first couple of rows and the upper galleries.  Their friends and family must have really enjoyed watching them too, the music was stunning.

There was a wide age range in the audience, it seemed like a near to full house.   This was the fourth and final performance.  We had a free typed program which was a nice souvenir to take away.  A hush descended as the curtain rose on a salon/changing room setting, like a split scene with a clever use of perspective by the set designer.  In fact for a student production the sets in Acts I and II were very professional.

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Act One – The Opening Scene ( Reproduced By Kind Permission Of The RCS / KK Dundas )

We’re not opera goers so we struggled at first with the whole production being sung in Italian until we realised there were subtitles high above us near the roof.  With hindsight we would have been better sat in the upper tiers.

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Act One – The Story Develops ( Reproduced By Kind Permission Of The RCS / KK Dundas )

The singing, colours and opulent costumes on the stage, brought the show to life.  We knew a bit about the plot from the program and Charlotte’s blog post.  The scene change between Acts I and II were very quick and well done and we were transported to a night club setting, full of life and movement.

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Act Two – Bullier’s ( Reproduced By Kind Permission Of The RCS / KK Dundas )

Charlotte had prepared us for her flirty ‘party girl’ character which her Dad felt she was rather too good at!  Our eyes followed Charlotte around the stage, dancing, flirting, playing cards, getting her bottom smacked by a sailor and waltzing the night away.  The principals developed the story beautifully and the director made good use of the chorus.  We’ve watched Charlotte on the stage regularly since she was about six and she always makes us so proud when she comes to life in this environment.

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Act Two – The Leap ( Reproduced By Kind Permission Of The RCS / KK Dundas )

Our favourite bit had to be when Charlotte climbed up on a table and leapt off into the up stretched arms of two muscular guys, cycling her legs in the air, this was amongst so much cast activity and wild abandon it made you feel happy just to watch them obviously enjoying themselves so much as the two main characters fell in love.

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Act Two – Romance Is In The Air ( Reproduced By Kind Permission Of The RCS / KK Dundas )

As everyone left the stage in groups of friends and couples you did get a sense that the opera was coming to an end with the two main characters leaving to begin their new life together as the curtain dropped.

After a break Act III commenced with a minimal set of a beach and a chaise long.  The act was skilfully carried out with just four main characters.  The story felt to us like it required another ten minutes to resolve itself with Ruggero perhaps following Magda back to Paris to plead with her to make a go of it with him which he would have done if he truly loved her.  But who are we to criticise Puccini whose operas are still being staged nearly 100 years after he wrote it.  As an audience member we went from a real happy high feeling to a rapid deterioration, which not being used to the tragedy of opera was strange.  Lisette the maid had her dreams of stardom crushed, and Magda the courtesan was reminded of her place and went back to her rich benefactor with her tail between her legs.  Bring back the party!

Seriously the singing and music was wonderful all without stage microphones that you usually see taped to people’s heads.  The staging was sumptuous and we had a thoroughly enjoyable evening.  Well done Charlotte for opening our eyes to a new form of entertainment, you make us very happy 😉

Love Mum & Dad xx

La-Rondine-Thank-You

I wrote about being thrilled to be asked to join the rehearsals of La Rondine in “My First Opera” if you didn’t see it. It’s been my first opportunity to take part on the opera stage and I was cast as a ‘Party Girl’. Please excuse the bullet points below but as you can imagine I had a thousand different thoughts and emotions running through my head and it was the easiest way for me to share with you all how my first performance day went.

At Home Preparation:
• I was counting down the minutes excitedly, planning every five minutes so I could fit everything in, I had an essay to finish for my arts leadership and fund raising module. I’d been working on it during downtime in rehearsals so I had to put all my notes together.
• Cooked my dinner – chicken and mushroom and green beans as I required lots of energy.

Mealt
• Put my hair into curlers so I looked like Medusa, quite scary but definitely worth it. However next time I think I will sleep with the rollers in so the curls stay in my hair for longer.

Warm – Up:
• The chorus came together in the AGOS opera studio at the RCS and we sang through the opening of the Act. It was fabulous to hear everyone have fun and mime through their own stage actions. The atmosphere was on fire and everyone was electric ready for the show. Our conductor Ollie Rundell was fabulous and very excited too.

 

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Svetlina Stoyanova and me

Backstage (Changing Rooms):
• The ladies chorus changing rooms received a good luck card from Jonathan Cooke (Ruggero), which lifted everyone’s spirits and as a group we were feeling very appreciated by the main cast and by the conductor.
• The room smelt of hot curling tongues mixed with hairspray and a collage of perfumes.
• The walls have a banner of mirrors with light bulb borders to add to the changing room finesse. However we had to turn these off as they produce some mighty heat!
• Two fabulous hair and make-up ladies were at hand to give the chorus finger waves in our hair and advice.
• At the end of the room were our costumes neatly racked and each dress flew off the rail as time reached closer to curtain call. Our costumes covered all the colours of the rainbow and multiple fabric textures. Each member had a personal flavour to the costume to inspire creativity and personality to the acting.
• As the first act began we began an excited chatter, which covered various areas of the act as well as the plan for the evening’s celebrations.

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Thanks to the production staff for all their help

 

Backstage (Rehearsal Room):
• Like ants in a line, we entered the backstage rehearsal room, trying to be as quiet as mice as this room lead straight to the stage.
• We stood there in suspense knowing that we were about to go on!
• When the curtain went down for Act 1, the stage crew whooshed onto the stage like Tasmanian devils and cleared and re-assembled the stage in two minutes. The efficacy and quietness of their work was outstanding.
• Then we got our call to take our places.
• I crept on stage, fast paced, but on the tips of my toes. And reached my chair. Double checked my prop and I got into starting position. There was a ‘buzz’ in the air.
• My tummy started to have butterflies and I knew it was only a matter of seconds before the curtain went up and the ‘Party Girl’ took over me.

Then the orchestra began and as we’d rehearsed I let out a huge stage cackle and the performance began! Oh how I love this 🙂

Audience and Onstage connection:

• I will tell you more about this after the last show, I don’t want to spoil it for people who will see it later (examples being my parents, which makes me very excited!)

Face-In-Trees

I have just found this great interview with Tim Dean who is talking about La Rondine with Opera Scotland.

10 Days And Counting

April 30, 2014 — 53 Comments

RCS La Rondine Poster

I can only manage a short post tonight but I am having a fabulous time in rehearsals for both “La Rondine” and “Mahler Symphony No 8 – Symphony Of A Thousand”.  The only problem is that I have used up my 3G allowance and it is really difficult to keep in contact with everyone when I’m not in a free wifi area or at home, which hasn’t been very often 🙂 .

This will be my first time on stage in the chorus of an opera and I am so excited about being involved.  I have only been involved with the RCS tech support helping out with the surtitles.

There are still some tickets left here if you are quick 🙂

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Here is a selfie that I took this afternoon today in the dressing rooms for “La Rondine”, I just love my outfit but it is still under wraps 🙂

RSNO

Then tonight I was in rehearsals with the RSNO as part of the RCS choir that will be joining them for their season finale which promises to be a fantastic evening for those that manage to get tickets.

Here are some of my upcoming events for this Summer 2014, I will post further details about them as we get closer to the dates:

La Rondine Chorus at RCS Glasgow 10, 12, 13 and 15th May ( 7:15 pm )
The Highgate Singing Competition at RCS Glasgow 15th May ( 10:00 am )
RCS Choir with RSNO, RSNO Chorus and Jnr Chorus at Edinburgh Usher Hall 30th May ( 7:30 pm )
RCS Choir  Glasgow City Hall, Glasgow 31st May ( 7:30 pm )

Les Sirenes Female Chamber Choir ‘Songs of the Four Seasons’ 6th June

Lunchtime Recital with Russell Lomas in Rochdale 2nd July
Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod Competition Vocal Solo Over 18’s 9th July
Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod Competition Voice Of The Future 10th July

Tideswell Male Voice Choir and guest soloists at Gawsworth Hall Manor House, Macclesfield 10th Aug.

Gawsworth-Hall

Gawsworth Hall 2013

My First Opera

March 9, 2014 — 67 Comments

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to stand in for a small chorus role in my first opera chorus at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, it’s very exciting for me.  Rehearsals had been going on since the beginning of January so I had catch up work to do.  The lovely Kathryn Middleman, a fourth year vocal student and friend, helped me with some of the Italian pronunciation.

The opera is called La Rondine (The Swallow).   I haven’t seen this opera yet on DVD or live, the music is by Giacomo Puccini.  I immediately set about listening to the music and I’d like to get a copy of the opera to watch, I doubt it will be featured at a cinema in time for May, the music is just sumptuous.

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The first performance of this opera was at the Casino Theatre in Monte Carlo on 27th March, 1917. The story seems to have lots of secret love affairs and is about romanticism and love. It’s set in glamorous 1920s Paris. An elegant courtesan Magda de Civry meets the young innocent Ruggero Lastouc, she is smitten, and begins to imagine the life they might live together. But can she forget her past and make her dream a reality?

My initial investigation into the story reveals that in act one Magda, a working girl who became the elegant mistress of her elderly protector Rambaldo, entertains her friends with a cocktail party at her home.  She invites a poet called Prunier to sing a verse of his latest song and Magda sings her own ending to the song.  A visitor arrives at Magda’s salon to see Rambaldo called Ruggero, it is his first visit to Paris and he asks where to find the best entertainment for his first evening, Magda’s maid Lisette recommends Bulliers.

In Act two Magda disguises herself as a working girl and goes to Bulliers for an evening of dancing.  The bar is packed with students, artists all singing and dancing.  Magda sits with Ruggero who doesn’t recognise her, she becomes smitten with him and dreams of building a life with him.  The maid Lisette and Prunier the poet arrive, Lisette thinks she recognises Magda but she has signalled to Prunier not to reveal her so he persuades Lisette that she is mistaken.  Prunier noticed that Rambaldo has entered Bulliers and implores Lisette to take Ruggero out of the room for a few minutes, which she does.  Rambaldo implores Magda to leave with him but she declares her love for Ruggero and he leaves.

In Act three on the French Riviera Magda and Ruggero have been living together for several months.  Ruggero tells Magda that he has written to his mother for her consent to his marriage to Magda.  Magda becomes uneasy because she knows her previous life as a courtesan would make her unacceptable to his family.  Prunier visits Magda and tells her that Rambaldo is happy to take her back on any terms.  Magda at first refuses to listen.  She confesses to Ruggero about her past and declares she can never be his wife.  He implores her not to abandon him in a heart-breaking farewell.

Like a swallow, she flies back to Rambaldo and her old life, leaving Ruggero behind devastated.

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This Is One Of The Sets Used In The Royal Opera House Production

One aspect of this opera that I look forward to is the dances in Act 2, La Rondine uses popular dances, and particularly the waltz and I love to waltz.  A feature of the music is Puccini’s use of modern dance rhythms, such as the tango to denote the various characters.

La Rondine has been one of Puccini’s less successful works, however, as part of a 1958 celebration marking the centenary of Puccini’s birth the San Carlo Theatre in Naples, Italy staged a revival which was well received, with audiences and the critics deeming it was a success.

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One Of The Sets From The Metropolitan Opera production of La Rondine

You can read more Musical Highlights here by The Metropolitan Opera to help students make sense of opera.

La Rondine runs at the RCS from May 10th to Thur May 15th ,2014.  La Rondine hasn’t been performed or seen in the central belt of Scotland for many years.  As Puccini’s homage to operaetta it represents him at his most delicate, lyrical and playful in portraying a tangled web of human relationships, deceit and misunderstanding.  You can book tickets for the RCS production here.