Yesterday we closed our tour at the Haddington show and it was extra special for me as my parents made the trip North to come and watch.
The Haddington show is an agricultural show filled with horse jumping, pig racing, pedigree competitions across farmyard animals and lots of good food! I caught my Dad checking out the tractors, it’s such a good job we never lived on a farm, otherwise, he would have bankrupted us, wanting the biggest and newest gadget every year.
Our shows were packed across all ages and it was a brilliant way to finish our tour. I had a lovely time working with the Scottish Opera team, the two months have flown by unlike the journey home to Cheshire which took twice as long as it should have done. Everyone must have been out enjoying the sun and returning home at the same time.
On Friday I joined the Pop-Up Opera team to participate in the Borders Book Festival, which took place in the heart of Melrose, which is south of Edinburgh.
Just off St Mary’s road, Harmony Garden was home to marquees
filled with events for both adults and children, a pop-up bookshop with some
authors present to sign the books bought by visitors to the festival, and the
We were parked in a great spot between Harmony Garden and
the Orchard where a delightful collection of Food and Drink trucks were
situated decorated in bunting and festive twinkly lights. As well as delicious
and artisanal food to nibble on, there were stretch tents and tipis for shaded
cover – on what turned out to be a miraculously sunny day!
I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the festival and between shows, I took time to explore the stands and enjoying hunting for treats and oddities.
Then on Saturday and Sunday, we set up the trailer at the tranquil Archerfield Walled Garden in North Berwick. The beautiful grounds host a Garden Cafe where the chefs in the kitchen use local produce to create scrumptious dishes for all tastes. Not only was there a soup of the day, but also a scone of the day.
On Sunday it was Father’s Day (Love you Dad) and the cafe celebrated by offering a deal to Dad’s, a burger and a locally brewed beer! Yum! On-site there is also a farm shop, Knops microbrewery, and amazing trails to walk peacefully alone or with your friends, family, and dogs.
One walk that enticed the company, in particular, was the fairy walk! So we decided to treat our stage management and instrumental crew to fairy wings from the shop and prance around the grounds in our Iolanthe costumes. The setting was so beautiful and we had a great time.
Part of the joy of this production is the way it reaches so
many different people in places and venues that you would not normally
associate with opera. It is such a
thrill to share our love of the artform with young and old alike, with the
added benefit of traveling to some amazing parts of Scotland.
All of this would be so much harder if it were not for the lorry that Scottish Opera had purpose-built to put on these shows. The design of the lorry allows us to be self-sufficient. If needed we have a generator for electricity, (which we’ve not had to use yet).
If there are no changing facilities available to us then we
can get changed on the stage behind the curtain like a large shopping changing
We have coat hooks on the sides of the trailers to hang out costumes and personal items which can then be hidden behind the black cloth background surrounding the performance space.
All in all, it is an ingenious design and makes the best use of every inch of space, for example, the stools, used by the audience, also double up as storage when the show is traveling to the next venue.
This week we commenced the start of our Pop-Up Opera tour!
This year Scottish Opera’s Pop-Up Opera provides three
different 30-minute performances of specially arranged Operas, selecting top
hits, arias and duets and ensemble numbers to be sung by a small chamber music ensemble.
Our chamber ensemble consists of a soprano, (I share the
role with the delightful Jessica Leary), baritone (Aidan Edwards), Flute (Laura
Cioffi), Harp (Gwen Yorke Sinclair & Sharron Griffiths) and for our
children’s show accordion (Lizy Stirrat), with Ross Stenhouse (Storyteller)
binding them together with his own inimitable style.
I’ve never worked with these instruments alone before, so I
was excited to hear how supportive and resonant the accompaniment is.
Our three shows are :
A Little Bit of The Magic Flute
A Little Bit of Iolanthe
Puffy McPuffer and the Crabbit Canals
What makes these productions so special is that they are performed in a specially converted articulated trailer. It has been fitted out with a raised stage at the back, fitted with windows for natural light whilst rehearsing and blackout blinds for during the performances. There are spotlights and even a chandelier to add a touch of elegance to the internal surroundings.
The inside is painted to match the auditorium of the Theatre Royal, Scottish Opera’s Homebase theatre in Glasgow, even down to the carpet which is exactly the same as the carpet used in the actual theatre.
By putting on these productions in the trailer it means that Scottish Opera can take their fabulous shows on the road to all corners of Scotland and reach a much wider audience across all age groups.
This week we arrived in the City of Perth and explored the area around where we were staying. We all enjoyed eating together at the end of each day and I can heartily recommend the great restaurants that we found in Perth.
North Port Restaurant
They have a great a la carte menu with food exquisitely cooked and celebrates British cuisine. I had a mouthwatering chicken supreme.
The Post Box
Has a Michelin star and a pre-theatre menu that lasts until
The meals were scrumptious and deliciously plated up. I felt
like I was on MasterChef
A family run Italian restaurant with well priced and delicious food. Plenty of variety and good quality food.
In Iolanthe, I play a Fairy and if you have ever wondered what a Fairy eats when there are no Fairy cakes, well it has to be Rainbow Unicorn Cake!!
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 week as April draws to a close I am really happy to
share with you that I will be working with Scottish Opera again on their Pop-Up
Opera tour around Scotland in May and June.
This year we will be performing three separate shows aimed at audiences
of all ages:
A Little Bit of Iolanthe │Gilbert
& Sullivan arr. Derek Clark
“ Iolanthe is banished by the Fairy Queen
for marrying a mortal. Now, 25 years later, two worlds again collide when her
son announces he’s in love. Unfortunately, his beloved is a popular girl and he
has some serious competition… Light-hearted satire at its best, Iolanthe is
full of fun.”
A Little Bit of The Magic Flute
│Mozart arr. Derek Clark
is in love with Pamina, the daughter of the mysterious Queen of the Night. When
she is abducted, he sets off to rescue her but soon realises all is not quite
as it seems. A beguiling mix of comedy, fantasy and pantomime, The Magic Flute
is also a profound story of the search for love, wisdom and truth.”
Puffy McPuffer and the Crabbit Canals
│Music Marion Christie Words Allan Dunn
tale of the five waterways that link Scotland from the North Sea to the
Atlantic. Like most families, each one is different: Caledonian – the longest;
Crinan – the most beautiful; hard-working Monklands; Union – the fastest; wise
old Forth & Clyde. Each one thinks they’re the best. Can an ordinary little
puffer boat make them think again?”
The tour will include dates at the Perth Festival of the Arts, Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival, Old Kilpatrick, Barrhead, Giffnock, Borders Book Festival, Dirleton, Callander, Cupar Arts EDEN, Aboyne & Deeside Festival, Haddington Show. You can see the times and dates for the shows here:
For these productions, I will be performing alongside Jessica Leary ( Soprano ), Aidan Edwards ( Baritone ), Ross Stenhouse ( Storyteller ), Lizy Stirrat ( Accordion ), Sharron Griffiths ( Harp ), and Yorke Sinclair ( Harp ).
If you have the time I would appreciate it if you could please check out the new Kickstarter page of my friends at Improbable who have been responsible for some really amazing and innovative projects. Watch their video and if you can spare any amount to help them to bring their imaginative plans to life I can assure you that it will be gratefully received as they only have until May the 15th to hit their target.
One of the great things I enjoy about my work is visiting new places, traveling to locations that I may not otherwise have had the opportunity to visit. Last Thursday, 6th September, I traveled North from London to Aberdeen to join the new cast of BambinO, Hazel McBain ( Uccellina ), Samuel Pantcheff ( Pulcino ), Andrew Drummond Huggan ( Cello ) Michael D Clark ( Percussion ).
It was exciting to watch them perform together on Friday before putting my Uccellina costume back on again to take over from Hazel, who leaves to take up her place on a Young Artist Programme in Salzburg.
You can get the details of the rest of the tour here:
Earlier this week I received an email from the Editor of WordPress Discover to let me know that I had been selected to be showcased as an Editor’s Pick on their Discover page and Home Page. It was quite exciting to be chosen and to share my blog with visitors to the WordPress site. They have also asked me to take part in a question and answer session which will hopefully be featured on their site, I will let you know if it gets published.
But it got me thinking, that after five years blogging about my studies that it would be interesting for me to ask you if you have any questions that I could answer for you on my profession or expand on in a future blog post? For example, maybe you would like me to interview a Stage Manager to find out more about the role they play in an opera production. Or interview an instrumentalist to see if there are any parallels between their study path and that of an opera singer. Perhaps you may want to know more about costume design for the stage, or where the costumes are stored after each performance.
Whatever the question I will try my best to answer it and hopefully add some new topics that be suitable for blog posts to share with you all over the coming year.
As the summer draws to a close and the autumn approaches I wanted to put together a short reprise of what I have been up to since graduating from the Royal College of Music Masters course at the beginning of July.
The Minack Theatre reviewer Jenni Barlow wrote that ‘her ears were ringing and singing with sheer ecstasy and my head is still spinning with delight after watching one of the Minack’s most exhilarating musical productions….the voices of its nine principle singers are sublime…, with Charlotte Hoather giving a remarkable performance on the opening night, effortlessly hitting the top, very high notes, as well as achieving perfect comic timing, in partnership with the impeccable Stephen Anthony Brown.’ I was thrilled when this was sent to me.
After traveling back to London for rehearsals, it was on to Waterperry House in Oxfordshire to perform the role of Maria Bertram in Waterperry Opera Festival’s production of Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park. The production received a five-star review in Bachtrack this week by Charlotte Valori, “Waterperry Opera Festival has broken new ground in its first season, opening with an ambitiously broad programme which presented four different works in four different spaces […] The jewel of these four was the chance to see Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park in the period-perfect setting of Waterperry House […] Charlotte Hoather’s precocious, determined Maria Bertram displayed a deep and sensitive understanding of her complex character […] Mansfield Park sparkled with wit and ingenuity from start to finish.”
Now having had such a wonderful summer full of learning, I have to start preparations for next year, starting the audition process all over again. I have a couple of smaller projects underway at present and can’t wait to share them with you as Autumn progresses. But until then I have my return to the role of Uccellina in BambinO for Scottish Opera in their tour this September.
One of the locations that we will be visiting is Lerwick in the Shetland Isles and I was excited to see my blog friend Cindy Knoke’s blog post today on the Town, the most Northerly town in the UK, with some amazing pictures.
We have had a productive week of rehearsals here in London for Waterperry Opera Festival’s production of Mansfield Park. Next week we travel over to Oxford to start the staging at the venue. I can’t wait to see where we will be performing and soak up the atmosphere of the house to see if we can bring a little something extra to our characterisations.
I will try and get some pictures over the course of the week and share them with you once the performances are over or put them on Instagram.
Scottish Opera are putting on a Scottish tour of BambinO this autumn and I have been asked back to perform alongside Samuel Pantcheff who will be taking on the role of Pulcino, with Andrew Drummond Huggan on Cello and Michael D Clark on Percussion, they are currently performing at the Edinburgh Fringe if you are in Edinburgh next week with your baby check it out with Hazel McBain as Uccelina.
After weeks of anticipation, Saturday finally arrived and team BambinO set off to New York for a week of performances at the Metropolitan Opera House. If you would have told me twelve months ago that working with this amazing team of creatives would lead me here I would never have believed it.
I was up bright and early, packed, and excited for the day ahead, eight hours after leaving Edinburgh we landed in Newark, collected our luggage, and met the drivers who were to take us to our hotel. The drive in from Newark Airport was a great way to see some of the City and I couldn’t wait to check in and explore the area around the hotel.
The Metropolitan Opera House
With a five-hour time difference, I was keen to stay awake as long as possible and not let the jet lag take hold. After a quick freshen up I arranged to meet up with Lliam Paterson, and together we set off walking to explore the area around where we were staying. It wasn’t long before we found the Lincoln Centre Plaza and I found it hard to contain my excitement as we approached the Metropolitan Opera House. It was only just sinking in that we would be here on Monday for the first of our performances.
Lliam Paterson, the Composer of BambinO and Me
This morning after a great nights sleep I met up with David Sneddon and Laura Sergeant and we set off to enjoy our free day in the City. Amongst some of the things we managed to do today were walking across Brooklyn Bridge, catching The Staten Island Ferry, and we walked through Times Square. I wanted to finish off tonight’s post by sharing some of the pictures we took.
I Can’t Believe That I Am Here On Brooklyn Bridge, New York.
Laura Sergeant, David Sneddon, and Me On The Brooklyn Bridge
Laura Sergeant and Me On The Brooklyn Bridge With The New York Skyline Behind Us
Statue Of Liberty
New York County Court House
New York City Fire Station
Madison Square Park Looking Down 5th Avenue Towards The Empire State Building
Check out the trailer for BambinO on the Metropolitan Opera’s YouTube Channel: