Archives For Mozart

 

Friday Concert 5th May 2017

Anna Cooper, Prajna Indrawati and Me

 

On Friday I had a wonderful opportunity to perform near home in Chester with my talented peers Anna Cooper (Mezzo-Soprano) and Prajna Indrawati (Piano). We have all become great friends over this past year whilst we have been studying at the Royal College of Music in London. It was a delight to work on this recital programme with them both.

The concert took place in the beautiful St. Werburgh’s RC Church. The church had recently invested in a wonderful grand piano, which had a brilliant tone to support the voice. We arrived in the early evening after driving up from London during the afternoon and we immediately began rehearsing and preparing for the concert. We tested the acoustics both for singing and speaking and adapted our performances to reflect this. In the concert, I performed a range of songs from my personal journey through the world of classical music, featuring songs that I felt represented key moments of my training and other personal favourites.

We had an absolute blast and I would love to go back. The audience were very friendly and welcoming, which is always a nice feeling for a performer! It means you can take risks and experiment with ideas that you have so that music is alive with spontaneity and imagination. I was especially pleased to see my parents and my good friends Gill and Terry Howard in the audience who had driven to Chester after work to catch the performance.

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On the 16th May, I will be participating in another set of Opera Scenes at the Royal College of Music under the baton of Christopher Middleton and the direction of James Bonas. We began rehearsals from the 24th April meeting twice a week for 90 minutes. I will be performing the opening scene from “Il Re Pastore” by Mozart as the character Aminta. The opera was first performed on 23 April 1775 in Salzburg, at the Palace of the Archbishop Count Hieronymus von Colloredo when Mozart was just 19.

Aminta is a young and impoverished shepherd boy who is in love with a shepherdess, Elisa. But as in all good operas, nothing is quite that straightforward. Alessandro the mighty King and ruler of Macedonia had just fought and defeated an evil tyrant, Stratone of Sidon.  Alessandro was determined to find the rightful heir to the throne of Sidon and sets out on a mission to bring order back to the city-state.

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You guessed it, Aminta is the rightful heir but initially, wants no part of it.  He is happy living the simple life of a shepherd and plans to marry his true love Elisa at the earliest opportunity. Aminta is convinced by Alessandro to return to Sidon to take up the throne and put aside his love of Elisa for his duty to his people.

Alessandro believes that it would be good for Aminta, and for Sidon, if he marries Tamiri the daughter of the deposed tyrant, Stratone.  But she loves another and Aminta’s heart lies with Elisa.  Elisa and Tamiri plead with Alessandro to change his mind and allow them to marry for love.  Realising how unjust his original proclamation would be he relents and allows Aminta to marry Elisa.  The story ends with Aminta being crowned King of all Sidon.

This performance will be a first for me, as Aminta is a pants role, which means I will have to play a boy. The reason for this is because the role was originally written for a ‘castratto’, a male singer who has the range of a soprano or mezzo-soprano. From the middle of the 16th Century through to 1870 when it became illegal in Italy, young pre-pubescent boys would be castrated so that their larynx would not develop into that of an adult male.  This meant that they retained a childlike quality to their voices with an extended range.  Their bodies without the influence of testosterone developed in a unique way, their joints did not harden the same as an adult male and their bones would grow unusually long.  This often gave them a tremendous lung capacity coupled with a youthful-sounding voice.  As the practice fell out of favour the roles that had originally been written for their voices would then be performed by women.

 

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On Thursday alongside my fellow 4th year undergraduate students we performed in a scene from “Cosi fan Tutte”.  It was the finale from Act 1 and I performed the part of Fiordiligi  with Inkeri Kallio as Doribella. The other performers were :

Don Alfonso – Jack Sandison
Ferrando – Robert Forrest
Guglielmo – Timothy Edmundson
Despina – Xinhui Lai

In the opera Don Alfonso makes bet with two younger men, Ferrando and Guglielmo that all women are fickle and are easily tempted.  As the two men believe their fiancés, Fiordiligi and Doribella, are loyal and faithful they see this as an easy bet to win and decide to play along. Pretending to have been called up to go to war the two men agree to return in disguise and attempt to tempt the others fiancé.  Will the deception work? Will the two sisters succumb to the advances of their new suitors?

In the scene that we performed Despina the maid had been persuaded by Don Alfonso to help him win his bet.  She works with the two men who are now disguised as two Albanians to tempt the two sisters to stray.  As part of the deception the two men threaten to poison themselves if Fiordiligi and Doribella do not accept their amorous advances. After refusing their efforts Ferrando and Guglielmo pretend to take the poison and Despina (now disguised as a doctor) saves them from dying.

Pretending to be under the effects of the poison the two men demand a kiss form the sisters who adamantly refuse.  Fearing the bet will be lost both Don Alfonso and the disguised Despina encourage the two sisters to agree to the amorous demands as the Act draws to a close.

I had a great time with everyone 🙂

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Then after school I packed up for the weekend as we had to travel to Reading in Berkshire for a concert which was on Friday, 18th March.

George Todica was both accompanying me in the concert and also playing three piano pieces by Franz Liszt, Maurice Ravel and George Enescu.  We arrived in the afternoon and after being shown the recital room we warmed up before getting changed for the performance. During the afternoon we had a look around the beautiful arts centre which was buzzing with life and a fantastic credit to the community.

During our performance we were made to feel so welcome by the enthusiastic audience and the evening just flew by.  We met so many lovely people and enjoyed chatting with them after the concert about the music that we performed.  I would like to say a special thank you to Penny and Brian for their hospitality.

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Sun0208201503 After a very busy week of four operas being performed back to back, and rehearsals in between I’m very thankful it’s Sunday! A day of rest was truly deserved by all my colleagues and the staff. So here is a little low-down on what I’ve been up to: Suor-Angelica I have performed twice in Puccini’s ‘Suor Angelica’ and twice in Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’ in the local Auditorium, which is a fabulous stage, equipped with rich, thick, red curtains and row upon row of red seats. It certainly gave the place a majestic and theatrical atmosphere. Normally this space is used as a cinema for the local community and even though we weren’t the usual blockbuster the support and turnout was wonderful. For every opening night the 250 seat (guesstimate : ) ) theatre received almost a full house, which was super for the small town. Sun0208201502 Both operas went brilliantly and the cast were marvellous! I can’t wait to perform with everyone again in this final week. On top of that we began staging in the space ‘Hansel and Gretel’ I have a cast role and I also have a performance as Gretel next Saturday. Tomorrow we’re practising with orchestra.

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Me, Alison Christopher and Laura Doyon

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Me With Laura Doyon

I’m in the middle of cooking a spaghetti bolognaise for 12 friends at the minute so I’ll have to dash. But love and best wishes to you all xxxxx I’ll catch up soon.

Update :

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All Gone – Thumbs Up For The Meal

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A Quick Selfie Taken Just Before I Performed the Puccini Aria “Qunado M’En Vo” In A Concert On Wednesday Night.

Time flies so quickly here! It’s hard to keep track of what is accomplished per day let alone summarise a week! Hopefully I can reflect and provide a snippet of the activities that have occurred this week.

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Hänsel and Grete

It has been such a pleasure working with David Gately on the character portrayal and staging of Gretel in Humperdinck’s “Hänsel and Gretel“. A very lively and energetic movement that includes dancing on tree stumps, sewing socks, teasing brothers, hiding from an angry mother, weaving a crown of flowers and much much more. I don’t think I’ve ever been so busy on a stage! I love it and I have learnt so much from this process. I have found that the most important thing that I’ve learnt is to always have your feet facing your focus, I sometimes sing at such peculiar angles and it’s as if my feet always want to face centre stage (whoopsie!) maybe it’s a dancers thing or perhaps I have rather Divaish feet! Haha 🙂   this has actually improved my control and my breath support and also allows me to be free to move at any moment I wish.

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Die Zauberflöte – The Magic Flute

During this week I have also worked alongside a great cast under the direction of Ophelia Wolf and together we have staged the entirety of “Die Zauberflöte” by Mozart, which culminated with a smooth run last Friday. It is very exciting and I like the twists that she has made to the plot and how our personal lives from this modern era can affect a great libretto and form a new interpretation. I am a second Knabe in this piece and it is lots of fun, I get to be childish and have quite dramatic emotions from frantic and worried to cheeky and playful. However I am seeing that perhaps my cheerful manner is encouraging me to get cast as young child. But to be honest I don’t mind a bit as I’m having loads of fun!

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Suor Angelica

The third opera that I am taking part in is “Suor Angelica” which has been fully staged by the fabulous Patrizia di Paola, whose exciting energy is both intoxicating and contagious! It makes for a brilliant opera which swings between tragic and comedic moments similar to the musical “Annie”. As part of my role as the Novice I get to play a pregnant nun. I’m quite enjoying my role and the fact I have to wear a big yellow belly which I can rub, I feel like I’m playing house! Haha.  But Mum and Dad don’t be worried I’m not broody! 🙂

 

We begin performances next week, so hopefully I will try to grab some pictures and possibly get a friend to tape some performances. All the best for the week ahead! Xxx

 

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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Vedrai, Carino is sung by the character Zerlina, a peasant girl and the fiancée of Masetto.  It is from Act II, scene 1 of the two act Italian opera ‘Don Giovanni’ the music by the famous composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart who composed over 600 works, and the libretto was created by the Venetian Lorenzo da Ponte, who wrote the libretto for 28 operas including three of Mozart’s greatest operas, Don Giovanni, The Marriage of Figaro and Cosi fan tutte.

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The Original Poster/Bill For The Premier In Prague, 1787.

The opera ‘Don Giovanni’ premièred in 1787 it was billed as drama giocoso a mixture of serious and comic action.

The main character roles are:

Don Giovanni, a young, promiscuous nobleman; performed by a baritone

Leporello, Don Giovanni’s servant; bass

Il Commendoratore (Don Pedro); bass

Donna Anna, the Commendatore’s daughter, betrothed to Don Ottavio; soprano

Don Ottavio; tenor

Donna Elvira, a lady abandoned by Don Giovanni; soprano

Masetto, a peasant; bass

Zerlina, Masetto’s fiancée; soprano

In a very brief synopsis in the first act during Masetto and Zerlina’s marriage procession Don Giovanni having admired several of the girls in the party is immediately attracted to Zerlina and he tries to remove the jealous Masetto by offering to host the wedding celebrations at his castle, Masetto is forced to leave on a pretext by Leporello and Don Giovanni’s seductive wooing of Zerlina is foiled when Elvira arrives and warns the girl against the rake, Elvira leaves with Zerlina.  In a garden outside Don Giovanni’s palace Zerlina tries to pacify Masetto singing Batti, Batti” to him (beat me beat me, handsome Masetto as long as we make up) she manages to persuade her husband of her innocence but just then Don Giovanni from off-stage frightens her, Masetto hides to watch how they are together.  Don Giovanni renews his flirtation and tries to take Zerlina aside but goes to the place Masetto is hiding, he recovers quickly and persuades Masetto that Zerlina was just missing him.

Don Giovanni

Later that evening when all the guests dance Don Giovanni continues his advances to Zerlina, he tries to drag her away, when her screams are heard Don Giovanni tried to blame Leporello but Don Ottavio, Donna Anna and Donna Elvira threaten Don Giovanni and reveal the truth.

In the second Act Don Giovanni (disguised as Leporello) is trying to seduce Elvira’s maid serenading her with his mandolin.  Before he can complete his seduction Masetto and his friends arrive searching for Don Giovanni intent on killing him.  Don Giovanni still in disguise convinces the gang that he also hates Don Giovanni and joins in the hunt. He then cunningly gets rid of Masetto’s friends and manages to take Masetto’s weapons away, he then beats him and runs off laughing.

The scene is a dark courtyard in front of an Inn, Masetto has been badly bruised and beaten when Zerlina finds him and asks what happened.  He explains and Zerlina promises to heal him with her love if he’s good (Vedrai, Carino), lovingly tending his bruises, admonishing him for his jealousy and takes him home to comfort him.

If you want to know what happens to the young, arrogant Don Giovanni who abuses and outrages everyone else in the cast then I don’t want to spoil it for you, you’ll have to go to watch. 🙂

This video was recorded on Valentines Day 2014 in Bury, Lancashire and is also the second track on my album Canzoni D’Amore .

Since recording this video I have done quite a lot of work on understanding and interpreting an aria not only through my vocal performance but also by using acting, gestures and working with a partner. This term in performance practice Nathan Jenkins, a tenor from my year lay down on the floor whilst I sang this aria to him and it helped me to visualise the performance of the scene much better and I hope this will help me to portray the characterisation in future performances.

It is always hard to know exactly how much acting,movement and gesturing to use whilst performing operatic arias in a recital, it is a balance that I am developing as I don’t think that dropping down to my knees and singing this aria would have the same impact in a church recital 🙂