Archives For Opera

Spring Term Exams

March 19, 2017 — 59 Comments

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I have had a fabulous day today, both productive and entertaining.  It is Spring term exams next week and everyone is busy preparing repertoire for assessment.  I was up early to get some rehearsal time in with my very talented friend, Prajna Indrawati. Prajna is from Indonesia and is currently studying for her Masters in Piano at the RCM and kindly agreed to accompany me in my exam.

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Prajna and Me

It was a lovely bright spring morning and the RCM looked very majestic in the sunshine.  I enjoyed the rehearsal and it helped me to get a feel for how the pieces are developing. My exam slot is 10:00 am on Wednesday but on Tuesday I will be singing an aria with Prajna as part of her assessment, and also singing two Lieder with another student Laura Ayoub as part of her accompaniment assessment. It is going to be a busy couple of days.

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The Royal College Of Music

This afternoon we were offered the opportunity to watch the dress rehearsal of ‘Faramondo’ which the RCM is staging in conjunction with the London Handel Festival. The Festival runs from March 18th through to April 24th and also hosts a number of amazing concerts and recitals.  You can watch  ‘Faramondo’ on Monday 20th March, Tuesday 21 March, Thursday 23 March and Saturday 25 March, in the Britten Theatre at the RCM.

It was wonderful to watch the dress rehearsal and see my fellow students from the RCM and the RCM International Opera School perform this fabulous opera.  They brought the story to life in a dynamic interpretation under the watchful eye of the conductor Laurence Cummings and accompanied by the London Handel Orchestra. What a way to spend a Sunday afternoon 🙂

 

My New Website Is Ready

February 26, 2017 — 69 Comments

This weekend I decided quite on the spur of the moment to pack up a weekend bag and travel home to see my parents. I had quite a bit of work to complete on my website, and I knew that my Mum and Dad could help me with it, so Friday night after lessons I virtually ran down to the underground station and then fought my way through the rush hour commuters, wheelie bag in hand. The train that I had booked was due to leave at 17:07 and I arrived on the platform at 17:05, just enough time to jump on the nearest carriage before the train moved off from the platform, that was too close a call even for me. I found my seat and settled down for the journey home.

It was great to see my parents at the station, and we had a lovely evening relaxing and sorting out images, text and setting the links for my website update. Having talked it through with my Dad, he suggested rather than moving my blog over to my website that I should just change the links in the menu. Which gives the impression that the site is all in one place but saves me possibly losing all my page links and archives. When I get the time to check out the process a little more, I may eventually move the blog but for now, let me know what you think. You can get through to my website using the Home Button on the menu on my blog as the page selections have been re-mapped 🙂

Anyway, enough of the technical stuff and on to the rest of my weekend. My younger Brother, Thomas was competing in a National Inter-Varsity dance competition in Blackpool. It is probably the biggest event in his competition calendar, and as my Mum and Dad were traveling up to watch him, it was a great opportunity for me to tag along, show my support for him and have a little catch-up.

We all jumped in the car and made the hour and a half journey North from my parent’s house to Blackpool on the Fylde coast in Lancashire. When we were small we used to travel up to Blackpool quite often, whether it was to visit relatives, go for a walk along the promenade, make sand castles on the beach, fly our kites or go to the Pleasure Beach, we always had a very good time. I felt a little nostalgic as we drove into the Town and I could see Blackpool Tower up ahead. The Town has changed from what I remember, the number of families taking holidays there has dropped with the advent of cheap air travel and guaranteed sunshine which has led to an unfortunate decline for the town. But the friendliness of the people is still there in abundance, and once you are in Blackpool, you don’t let a little thing like strong winds and a bit of rain stop your enjoyment.

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Blackpool Tower

We parked up and made our way over to The Winter Gardens, in its heyday this was the entertainment hub of the North West with many West End shows making their way there. The building is just as grand now as it ever was and the Theatre looked amazing. The Ballroom where Tom was dancing was huge, and after we had wished him luck, we made our way to the viewing gallery and settled in for the end of the morning session. In the morning, Tom was competing in the Ballroom novice two-dance and out of 170 couples who entered he came 19th which was an excellent achievement.

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Tom and his partner Natalie

During the lunch time break, we walked down to the seafront to buy some chunky chips with salt and vinegar, an absolute must as you walk along the windy promenade. It would have been perfect, but a cheeky little seagull decided to air bomb us and left a lovely little present in our chip tray boohoo 😦  I then went and bought some Blackpool rock (a hard candy dentists hate if you overdo it) for my friends at College, another tradition that you just have to share while you are visiting the Town.

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Feeling windblown and refreshed in the sea air we made our way back to watch Tom in the afternoon session. He was competing in the Latin novice two-dance but unfortunately this time he only got as far as the second round, but I thought he was amazing and it made me want to take up my Latin and Ballroom again. There are just not enough hours in the day 🙂  The Glasgow University team that he dances for all danced fabulously. Saulius and his partner Heather came 3rd in the ex-student advanced 5 dance ballroom and 5th in the Latin ex-student advanced 5 dance.

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Saulius, Thomas, Heather, Natalie, Hana, Antonio, Ryan and Anna

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Anna, Ryan, Antonio, Hana, Natalie, Thomas, Heather and Saulius

This morning I spent some time in my Mum’s craft room making some Thank You and Birthday cards to replenish my stock, and after a lovely weekend visit I traveled back down to London and feel energized for the week ahead.

After several weeks of rehearsals and performances, it was nice to have a little time this week to recharge and become inspired by new repertoire and watch other performers on stage including supporting my friends watching their scenes.

Also last week I had the pleasure of going to watch “Adriana Lecouvreur” at the Royal Opera House. Whilst I’m living in London, I’m trying to see and hear as much as I can and make the most of the student deals that are available. The production was breathtaking and I was able to see one of my singing inspirations, Angela Gheorghiu, who gave an exciting and thrilling performance, but I must say the whole cast was phenomenal. Everybody had such beautiful voices with incredible projection.

roh-friday-17-02-17As a student of Opera, I was interested in how much the set design of this production shaped and aided the story. On stage, there was a working baroque theatre, which allowed for multiple scenes to be portrayed such as a backstage area with dressing rooms, the wings of the theatre, a palace, the actual performing stage and many others. As the story unfolded on stage, our imaginations were entranced by these transformations as the characters glided from one setting to another seamlessly and very naturally.

There was a particularly beautiful moment when there was a ballet depicting a performance of ‘The Judgment of Paris’ within the opera during the palace scene. It created so many dimensions, and it was interesting as the dancers had comedic moments when they made mistakes due to the ‘onstage audience’ diverting their attention as the love rivalry between the Princess and Adriana created a frosty atmosphere. As a performer, I couldn’t help but want to watch the ballerinas while at the same time trying desperately to take it all in. It was such detailed direction I wish I could afford to go and see it all over again.

I have tried to write a brief synopsis of the story which I hope gives you an idea of what was happening on stage:

This tragic story centers around an actress, Adriana Lecouvreur and the men who fall in love with her. Michonnet, the stage manager of the company that she performs for, is one of her admirers. He tells Adriana of his feelings for her, but she tells him that her heart belongs to a soldier, Maurizio, who is in the service of the Count of Saxony. But like all good operas Maurizio is no soldier; instead, we find out that he is actually the Count of Saxony.

Maurizio has another, more important admirer, the Princess of Bouillon. During a party thrown by the Prince de Bouillon, the plot thickens as the Princess tells Maurizio that her heart belongs to him, but he tells her that he does not feel the same way. She guesses that he has taken a lover and though he will not reveal her name the Princess is desperate to find out who her rival is. As the Prince arrives at the party, the Princess is left having to escape so as not to be found out. In the darkness, she is helped to escape by Adriana, and the Princess grows ever more suspicious of her.

The Princess is even more determined to find out the truth, and her suspicions deepen as the story continues to unfold. Adriana is told by the Princess that Maurizio has been injured in a duel and Adriana gives away her true feelings for him when he later joins the group uninjured. The Princess concludes that Adriana is her love rival and decides to have her revenge.

As the story comes to its tragic end, Adriana receives what she believes is an unwanted gift returned by her lover, Maurizio. She kisses the flowers, hurt by the thought that Maurizio no longer loves her and throws them away. But Maurizio finds her and tells her that she is the one for him and asks her to marry him. As the couple embrace, Maurizio fears for her as she trembles in his arms. The flowers had been poisoned by the Princess who gets her revenge as Adriana dies in the arms of her lover.

Here are some of the pictures from the Royal Opera House Flickr website.

Angela Gheorghiu and Brian Jagde in Adriana Lecouvreur, The Royal Opera © ROH 2017. Photo by Catherine Ashmore

Gerald Finley and Angela Gheorghiu in Adriana Lecouvreur, The Royal Opera © ROH 2017. Photo by Catherine Ashmore

Gerald Finley, Angela Gheorghiu and Bálint Szabó in Adriana Lecouvreur, The Royal Opera © ROH 2017. Photo by Catherine Ashmore

Production Photo of Adriana Lecouvreur, The Royal Opera © ROH 2017. Photo by Catherine Ashmore

Angela Gheorghiu in Adriana Lecouvreur, The Royal Opera © ROH 2017. Photo by Catherine Ashmore

Ksenia Dudnikova, Angela Gheorghiu and Brian Jagde in Adriana Lecouvreur, The Royal Opera © ROH 2017. Photo by Catherine Ashmore

Angela Gheorghiu in Adriana Lecouvreur, The Royal Opera © ROH 2017. Photo by Catherine Ashmore

Angela Gheorghiu in Adriana Lecouvreur, The Royal Opera © ROH 2017. Photo by Catherine Ashmore

Angela Gheorghiu and Brian Jagde in Adriana Lecouvreur, The Royal Opera © ROH 2017. Photo by Catherine Ashmore

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.

Opera Mom

January 9, 2017 — 86 Comments

Over the Christmas break at home, I watched with my Mum a TV programme called “Dance Moms”. My Mum is a fan of this program with its many controversies, in the UK it is on 5 Star every weekday with a double bill on a Tuesday. The show comes in for a lot of criticism because it is speculated the fights between Moms are staged to boost the ratings and that some of the competitions are fake. The dance teacher Abby Lee Miller also divides opinion because of her personal teaching style.

I thought it would make an interesting blog post to ask my Mum what it was like being an Opera Mum.

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Mum and Me On My Graduation Day In July 2016

How would compare yourself with the Dance Moms in the TV programme?

Unlike the Dance Mom’s in the series, I’ve always been a hands-off dance/singer Mum and other than dropping you off and picking you up from different classes I shied away from putting any pressure on you or getting involved with teachers unless I felt it was absolutely essential and then only once in 20 years.

One of the things I do not agree with in the programme though is when the Mums pass on their worries and concerns to their children even though at the outset the children don’t have a problem with what is happening in the dance lesson and are only interested in giving their best performance.

But I do like the Mums passion, support and belief in their children and the lengths that they have to go to in order to help them out.

What encourage you to get me involved with the Arts?

I always wanted to be a dancer but my family could not afford the lessons when I was at school. I wanted you to have good deportment, excellent balance, high energy levels, fitness and access to other like minded girls having two brothers yourself.

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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang 

What did you know about the world of the Performing Arts before you signed me up to lessons?

Absolutely nothing, that’s why I love the “Dance Moms” programme so much, it gives me a peek into the training room that I never saw with your training as your sessions were after school and parents weren’t allowed to watch, in fact when it came to ballet class it was your Dad that took you on exam day and learnt how to put up your hair buns, he has nerves of steel! It was always nice to watch your end of term performances in dance and later your drama productions.

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Playing Mrs Banks In Mary Poppins 


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Love 2 Dance

When do you remember, me putting the majority of my focus into classical singing?

Right up until the start of High School we thought you would train to be a dancer or an actress, then a letter home from school to offer piano lessons for 30 minutes and one shortly afterward to offer one-to-one singing lessons for 30 minutes changed everything. After being told for years you sing too loud for school choirs and your voice cuts like a blade through a group you found a niche that embodied everything you loved; singing, dance, drama, a challenge and the ability to sing as loud as you liked without a microphone and whoosh suddenly you wanted to be an opera singer!

This was frankly a bolt out of the blue and something completely outside of our knowledge, we didn’t listen to classical music, we’d never been to an opera or knew anybody that had, although your Grandpa loved classical music and that was the entire family’s awareness. We put our faith in your singing tutor Jayne Wilson to guide you and we just provided lots of encouragement.

How did you find out more about the world of opera and classical singing?

We were encouraged to enter you for singing competitions in local festivals, your first one in Blackpool was nerve-racking for me, in fact, it was always me that had the butterflies and nerves while you swanned in and really enjoyed it all. This was my perfect introduction to the world of classical music, we listened to lots of singers of all ages and levels of experience, varied repertoire, and critique for all entrants at the end of each set of performances. We also saw how the children coped with the pressure of the events and learned a lot from these annual institutions. The realisation of how long it would take for you to achieve your goals and find a career started to dawn on us, this was not a career path for the faint-hearted. But your natural perseverance and willingness to stick with activities that you undertook encouraged us to believe that you could do it, and that it was not just a passing fad. It had to be your dream Charlotte and not just what we wanted you to do.

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Success In The Festivals

After eleven years of training do you still feel the same way?

After working full time in an office from leaving school both your Dad and I just wanted all of you to do what you loved to do and I’m really happy we can still continue to help you to do this, and to thank you for introducing us to this beautiful art form. But I must admit I would try and discourage you if you were not so committed and willing to put so much of yourself into your singing. It is a long and arduous process with no promise of work or success at the end.

But Charlotte we believe in you 100% and will support you every step of the way.

Happy New Year For 2017

January 1, 2017 — 84 Comments

Happy New Year! I hope you have all had a wonderful Christmas or winter festive period, and that the New Year brings you success, happiness and good health.

Over the past few days I have been so grateful for the fabulous time that I have shared with my family and friends, the delicious food and sublime cakes and I now feel like a happy hamster who has stuffed her cheeks full for the upcoming months (especially on a looming student budget). I feel revived and refreshed for the challenges ahead and I can’t wait to get stuck in and share my next experiences with you.

College starts up again on Tuesday 3rd of January with rehearsals for the upcoming Opera Scene Showcases. I am really excited to have been selected for two scenes! I will be performing the role of Flora in a scene from ‘The Turn of the Screw’ by Benjamin Britten on the 27th January 2017. Then on 3rd February 2017 I’ll be performing the role of Zerlina alongside my dear friend Christian Adolph, playing Don Giovanni in a scene from Mozart’s “Don Giovanni”. Both performances will be included in an evening of opera scenes performed by students of the RCM International Opera School which start at 5:30pm in the Britten Theatre at the RCM. The events are ticketed but they are free to the public, so if you are in the area it would be lovely to perform to some friendly faces.

I would love to hear what you are looking forward to in the new year! Whether you are planning a trip away or contemplating trying something new. Thank you so much for all your support last year and for taking the time to enjoy this adventure with me.

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Visiting my Pepa 

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So Much Fun Relaxing With My Mum And Tom ( My Brother )

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I Just Loved Finding This Pub In Rochester, Kent

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I Know These Dolls From The V&A Look A Bit Creepy But I Quite Like Them

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And I Thought I Was Flamboyant, Great Decor From The V&A 

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Great Christmas Baubles In The Trees At Seven Dials

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Magnificent Evening At The Sadlers Wells Theatre Watching Matthew Bourne’s “The Red Shoes” Ballet, A Brilliant Performance

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I Just Love This Time Of Year, Especially When You Share It With Family And Friends