On Saturday night I had the wonderful opportunity to join my singing teacher, Rosa Mannion, to watch my friend Gemma Summerfield debut as Pamina in the Magic Flute at Scottish Opera in Glasgow. It was a spectacular production and she particularly sang with poise and mellifluous tone just exquisite.
Scottish Opera – The Magic Flute – Photos By James Glossop
It was an extra special production for me as it was a revival of the original 2012 Sir Thomas Allen production, which I happened to see during the first year of my studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. It was just as I remembered a magical production, I could vividly remember the steampunk costumes and set design which only improved with time.
The Three Ladies and the Queen of the Night’s costume were also inspiring – bejewelled with either hundreds of Swarovski or delicately placed LED lights – they truly looked like stars in the nights sky.
The fantastic detailing in all the props brought added flair to the mystical realm we, the audience, had been transported to. In particular I liked the clockwork birds, which glistened as Papageno unluckily missed them with his net.
Scottish Opera – The Magic Flute – Photos By James Glossop
Sir Thomas Allen, directed the opera full of wit and
joviality. The audience all around me were sniggering and laughing in perfect
timing with the singing actors due to their wonderful delivery of a
particularly humorous English Translation. However, the company were able to
balance these moments with seriousness for the suicide arias and lessons learnt
during the trials.
My rehearsals have started well here in Glasgow and I have
enjoyed meeting everyone involved in the Pop-Up Opera production. I hope that in some small way our abridged
version will whet the appetite of our audiences and encourage them to go and
watch the full production as it is a true delight to the senses.
This weekend has been a key milestone for me in more ways than one, firstly it is the fifth anniversary of my first steps into the world of blogging, secondly it has seen the culmination of many months work as I try to finalise the PowerPoint presentation for my lecture recital on Thursday 8th May for my academic module entitled ‘Women In Music’.
When I selected the module at the beginning of the year, I had no idea how it would affect me, the deeper I researched, the more it drew me in. We were asked to prepare a 20 to 25 minute lecture recital on a female composer. Initially, I thought that this would be quite straightforward but after several months of reading, research and mentoring sessions it has proven to be more difficult than I expected. Not because I can’t fill the time, on the contrary, I have ended up with such a weight of research and information that I am finding it hard to cut it down to just 25 minutes in total !!
But cut it down I must, so I have been burning the midnight oil, wrestling with myself as to what information should be removed and what should remain. It is such a difficult and time-consuming process, as I find myself both arguing for and against each small section that I try to isolate and remove from the presentation.
At one point after reading through my work and decided that to try and preserve as much of my work as possible that I will perhaps post the initial un précised presentation as a blog post after I have completed my lecture recital. It may be a little longer than my usual posts, and I need to figure out how to record attach the spoken word to the PowerPoint presentation but I do hope that some of you find it as interesting to read as I did researching it.
One of the key points that I have taken away from my research is the importance of encouragement and positive reinforcement to the success of an individual’s creative endeavours. This is especially so if the creative arena in which you wish to forge a career for yourself has few gender or racial precedents for you to emulate or against whom you can measure your progress. Over the years on my blog many of you have contributed so much to my progress, encouraging me just when I need it, being supportive of my choices in an uncertain world, and most important of all just being there as a constant for me as I face every new challenge. I know that many of you have had your own creative struggles and by being there with you, sharing your experiences, as you individually overcame the obstacles you faced has been truly inspirational.
Part of this module included selecting and working closely with mentors, individuals who gave me their time, advice and the benefit of their experience and I would like to thank them:
My singing teacher and friend Rosa Mannion for consistently reinforcing the sound foundations, technical necessities, and good vocal health needed to sing at the highest levels.
Rosa Mannion and Me
Dr Natasha Loges and Diana Roberts for providing the lectures which guided my research for this module at the Royal College of Music. I would whole heartedly recommend it to any future students when they come to choose their options. Both Natasha and Diana have provided the necessary support needed for a module like this to succeed, and I can’t thank them enough.
Judith Howarth for her frankness and honesty during our sessions, and for her invaluable insight into the operatic world, advice which I will carry with me as I try to build my career in the years to come.
The composer Lisa Illean who has been so patient with me, providing feedback and guidance on the format and timing of my lecture recital, giving up her own time to talk me through the difficult process of how to decide what to keep and what to cut ( which I am still working on ).
Leanne Singh-Levett for coming to my rescue and stepping in at the eleventh hour to accompany me during my lecture recital, it has been fantastic to work closely with her even if it has been for such a brief time.
Simon Lepper for his skilled accompaniment and creative input during our coaching sessions, and for his patience and understanding as I had to change my repertoire just weeks before my recital lecture due to circumstances beyond my control.
A special thank you to all my friends that I have picked the brains of while preparing my reseach.
Just before I finish I want to wish the best of luck to all my fellow students presenting their recital lectures this Thursday; Eloise MacDonald, Lisa Burgess, Katy Thomson, and Esme Hurlburt.
Overall this has been both a difficult yet rewarding experience, one that has made me think differently about the challenges that I will face in the future. It has hardened my resolve to push on with my ambition to make a career for myself as an Opera Singer, to work more effectively to achieve my goals, to be thankful to my professional coaches and teachers, and to recognise that if a job is worth doing it is worth doing well.
By way of a thank you I will be putting all the names of everyone who comments or adds a like to this post here on my blog into a hat and I will pick out three names at random. I would then like to send signed copies of my Haugtussa album to those selected along with a personal message of thanks.
School’s out for summer!! (Well at least for me), on Wednesday 7th June I performed my end of year recital program at the Royal College of Music. I sang a program of Mozart, Liszt, Strauss and Moore.
Amelia Widjaja, Prajna Indrawati and Me
My delightful singing teacher Rosa Mannion reminded me to think of it as a performance rather than an exam. I thought this was a wonderful sentiment and reminds me to stay positive and share music with those around me. My recital celebrated all that I have learnt this year and showcased some of the beautiful music that I had the pleasure of preparing with Rosa and my wonderful repertoire coach Andrew Robinson.
Rosa Mannion and Me
On that note, It was a real treat to be supported by my friends and family who were able to make it to the performance and for all the many kind thoughts sent to me from those unable to attend. You all added to the magical atmosphere and boosted my confidence to get out there and shake a tail feather!
However, after a few photos, hugs and a quick celebratory lunch with my wonderful duo partner Prajna Indrawati and our friend Amelia Widjaja, who kindly turned pages at the piano, I jumped onto a train with my family heading to Glasgow ready to begin rehearsals for BambinO!
On Thursday morning I arrived surprisingly fresh-faced and full of energy for a day of music calls at Scottish Opera lead by composer Lliam Paterson. Laura Sargeant (cellist), Timothy Connor (Baritone), Stuart Semple (Percussionist) and myself started to work through the score scene by scene, marrying each independent instrument together. We continued our work on Friday morning and then in the afternoon, I had my first costume fitting with the wonderful designer Emma Belli. The costume looks fantastic and I can’t wait for my second fitting when the next layer of details can be added on. Plus anybody that has worked with me before technically, knows that I adore costume and the first fitting always gets me ridiculously excited!
On Saturday we were given a sneak preview of the set design by the fabulous designer Giuseppe Belli (who is Emma’s partner in crime). The set is in the final process of being built and should be ready for our production rehearsal beginning on Monday. We then continued our music calls by performing a little mini taster for the director Phelim McDermott and Assistant Director Lissa Lorenzo. So that they could hear the new music and allow their imaginations to begin bubbling with inspiration.
I will find out how much I can share during the process but one thing for sure is that I’m really excited and can’t wait to perform the production at the premiere in Manchester on the 4th July! If you are in the Manchester area please check out the schedule.