Archives For Royal Opera House

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

Midterm Break

October 30, 2016 — 68 Comments

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As British Summer time draws to a close here in London and the prospect of darker evenings and shorter days looms closer I have some good news that I would like to share with you, I was selected as one of several students from the Royal College of Music to audition for the prestigious “Josephine Baker Trust”.  For the audition, I had to select three pieces of contrasting repertoire, an aria, an oratorio, and a Lied.  Each year they audition prospective candidates from both the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music in order to produce a list of singers which they can then promote to venues and organisations around the Capital.  These performance opportunities help the students on the list obtain much-needed funding towards their education in a very proactive way.   So I was thrilled to hear that I had been selected and will become one of the singers on the “Josephine Baker Trust List”.

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My “Haugtussa” CDs have finally arrived from the manufacturers. I have had several people ask me over the last few weeks when they would be available to purchase as they prefer to listen to a CD. So if anyone is interested in ordering one here is the link to my shop page 🙂

https://charlottehoatherblog.com/store/

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I had a great start to the week  as there was a student evening on Monday at the Royal Opera House, so I went to watch a performance of Shostakovich’s opera “The Nose”  It was a piece that I was not familiar with so the opportunity to go along and watch was too good to pass up.
The Royal Opera House provided a little background about the opera which can be seen below:

“Shostakovich was only 20 when he began writing The Nose, his operatic debut. He turned to a tiny short story by Gogol: an absurdist satire, where a civil servant’s errant nose launches its owner on a ludicrous battle against both nose and the authorities, as bureaucratic processes break down in the face of so unusual a problem. Gogol’s surrealist fable fired Shostakovich’s imagination, and he responded with a work of exuberant energy, full of musical jokes and grotesque parody – from the famed Act I entr’acte for percussion ensemble to plaintive laments, careening counterpoint, folksong (accompanied by balalaika) and rambunctious polkas.

Shostakovich finished the work in about a year, and in the following months gave successful performances of extracts from the opera. But it was to be another two years, in 1930, before The Nose was staged in full, by which time Soviet cultural climate had turned sternly against works of such perceived frivolity. The opera was quickly dropped from the repertory; but since its rediscovery in the 1960s it has steadily gained recognition for Shostakovich’s baffling, brilliant wit. This new production is The Royal Opera’s first. Artistic Director of Berlin’s Komische Oper Barrie Kosky directs, fresh from his triumphant production of Saul for Glyndebourne Festival.”

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The story was very surreal and for once I was glad of the excellent translation provided by David Pountney, as this production was performed in English. The enthusiasm and energy brought to the production by the cast who were fully invested in their characters brought the bizarre story to life.

 

 

 

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Brindley Sherratt ( Bass – Opera Singer )

Last Wednesday, 12th October, at the Royal College of Music, London, the vocal department organised a Masterclass with Brindley Sherratt that took place at the Britten Theatre. It was fabulous to see the auditorium packed with an audience of students of all ages. I use the word student as I am often reminded during my studies that we never stop learning so perhaps even those members of the public who attended the event for entertainment, a little diversity or just plain curiosity will all have taken something away from the presentation that they probably had not thought about before.

 

For me, the main points of interest that stood out and that I can’t wait to explore further were:

  • To gain a beautiful legato line, one should carry the voice so that all the vowels are given enough time to sound.
  • Try not to push the voice and demand it to project. Simply let the voice out of the body.
  • To relax and sing into your whole voice whether at pianissimo (very quiet) and at forte (loud).

I particularly found these points interesting because they were not necessarily strict rules but ideas from which I could build my foundations, on which I can strive to improve my vocal technique. Learning how to sing in an operatic style can be very challenging as you often have to unpick someone else’s interpretation of how they achieve proper singing technique.  The process can often seem frustrating when all you want to do is to try to fix a mistake or bad habit. But patience in itself is a skill that you need to develop and which enables you to become a better problem solver, allowing you to try out different methods inspired by what you observe. By experimenting and applying these various techniques, it is possible to find a solution which allows you to progress and ultimately become a better singer and performer. Often it can feel like swings and roundabouts, but when you are successful it is very fulfilling, you get an immense sense of satisfaction and personal understanding that perhaps you can pass on to someone else for them to explore.

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It is always thought provoking to listen to other Artists and having moved to London I have found that there are many opportunities to learn from those professionals who live and perform in this vast and diverse City.  On Friday evening I went to a talk at the Royal Opera House called SILENCED! Art against Authority. It was the first ever Student Insight event held at the Royal Opera House which is an event open strictly for students (of any academic focus).  The evening took on the form of a debate chaired by John Hutnyk who along with a panel of six artists discussed their personal perspectives around the suppression and censorship of art around the world.

They began by using videos and a recitation from one of the artist’s works, then flowing seamlessly into discussions and then questions from the audience.  Each member of the panel relayed their experiences of how they had used their art to highlight what to them were problematic areas of modern society.   It was enlightening to see so much individualism and self-expression, I found the evening stimulating and it encouraged me to be true to myself and to present the stories and poetry that are important to me.