Archives For Soprano

Carnoustie-Church

On the 29th April, I will be returning to Scotland to perform with the Angus Choral Society at Carnoustie Church, Carnoustie at 7:30 pm.  The Musical Director, Norman Beedie asked me to join them for the evening to perform the soprano solos in the “Harmonie Messe” by Haydn.

The other singers joining me to perform the other solo parts of the mass are Thomas Kinch- Tenor, Stephanie Maitland- Mezzo Soprano, and Ciprian Serban- Bass. The organist for the evening will be Graeme Stevenson and the Tayside Symphony Orchestra Winds & Friends will be providing the orchestral accompaniment.

The piece was written in 1802 and was Haydn’s last major work. The title of the mass “Harmonie” comes from German terminology due to the prominence of the wind ensemble in the mass.

I am looking forward to performing alongside the members of the Angus Choral Society and my old friends and colleagues from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in what should be a wonderful evening.

If you are in the area on the 29th April why not come along and join us, the tickets cost £10.00 and will be available on the door..

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I would also like to pass on my thanks to all the people who asked about me following the awful attack on Westminster Bridge last Wednesday, 22nd April.  I am safe and well but my thoughts go out to all those that were touched by the day’s events, those that lost a loved one, or who are comforting those who were injured.

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Finally, I would like to wish my Mum a happy Mother’s Day. I couldn’t be with her today due to rehearsal commitments but thankfully with the help of my iPad I managed to FaceTime her and spend a little time with her online.  I can’t wait to see her in a couple of weeks when I will get to travel home for a short break.

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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Walkabout

January 15, 2017 — 78 Comments

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This week has been another interesting and exciting week for me. With lots of challenges to overcome, starting with a tube strike by the London Underground on Monday. It could not have come on a worse day for me as at Midday I had an audition on the other side of London to get to.  The trip using the tube connections would have taken me about 50 minutes normally. So when I heard about the tube strike I gave myself an extra hour and half to use the buses with the goal to get there 30 minutes before my warm up time. A Northerner’s ignorance! I also thought it would be a great idea to take my trusty pink wheelie trolley bag with all my belongings rather than just a back-pack. [Which turned out to be a blessing as I’ll tell you later.]

It started well as the first part of the journey was OK, my bus stop is relatively near the beginning of the bus route so I was able to get a seat with my bag.  For the first 5 minutes I thought, goodness this tube stress is just malarkey, I have a seat and the bus is moving! HOWEVER at the next stop next to what would have normally been a busy tube station the amount of people waiting for the bus was just insane. The only thing I can compare it to is leaving the Manchester City Football stadium at the end of match and everybody trying to get on the same bus. The bus was packed both upstairs and down within minutes, bodies against bodies with very little wriggle room. People were pushing, desperate to get on, they seemed willing to risk getting their limbs trapped in doors, with families not being able to board together they had to agree to separate and travel on separate buses. The risk assessor inside of me was wishing I had a seat belt but I was quickly reassured because we were moving at a snail’s pace.

We were making very slow progress and the minutes were slowly ticking by. I was conscious of the time but kept telling myself “You left with plenty of time, you will make it”. Then suddenly it was announced that due to the long delay the bus was now having to change route and proceeded to kick off all the passengers a mile from the stop it was supposed to take me to.  My adrenaline kicked in and I managed to walk to the next connection which was a mile away in about 10 minutes. But the bus stop I had planned to use was queuing around the block.  Remembering the crush that I saw earlier I decided to walk back along the route and find a quieter stop. Every road was jammed solid, the buses, taxis, cars weren’t making progress even the bikes were finding it difficult! Success! I found the terminus for the bus route and managed to board the bus and soon we started moving along side streets  towards my next destination, but when we joined Oxford street again we ground to a halt.

I only traveled 800 yards in 30 minutes, with my audition time looming, I worked out it would take me about 35 minutes to walk the remaining 2.5 miles, and that If I stayed on the bus I would probably miss my slot. So I asked the bus driver to let me off and luckily he was a very nice man and he let me off at the next stop. I then zoomed and jogged like nothing before. Friends of mine will laugh as I am a terrible runner and would have been better off doing jetés down the pavement. So I weaved through the crowds with my four wheel wheelie bag (which has now had a very good review based on its mobility skills!) And to be honest, I must have had the look of fearless determination as people began to move out of my way as I flew towards them.

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My Trusty Wheelie Bag

You’ll be relieved to know I made it just in time, to get changed fast and warm up before singing. Phew!!

Now I’ve been kicking myself for not getting a picture of the crowds for my blog, but here are a few I have found online. I must admit I did try to take a picture but people look at you very funny and I didn’t want to advantage of other people’s misfortune.

 

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Picture From The Evening Standard – Tube Strike 2017

Then following the Audition I had to return to Royal College of Music for a rehearsal and I had the bright idea to walk back along the bus route rather than wait for the next bus.  The traffic was moving so slowly I just kept walking from stop to stop.  It started raining and after 2 miles but still no bus had caught me up.  I kept going down the Strand, then walked down the Mall, past Buckingham Palace and then up Constitution Hill.  I was started to tire now, but still no bus had passed me so I decided to refill with cheeseburger and a coke because my city mapper app had told me that I had burnt off the equivalent calories to this from the walk of my first half alone. So why not make the most of it. When I got to the Hard Rock Café it looked shut from the front door and I couldn’t see much life inside. I was panicking because there wasn’t much I could afford in the area, Kensington darling! I was starving and in need of a burger, so I searched for a possible way in. Luckily! It was under refurbishment so they were seating customers’ downstairs in the original part of the restaurant. Which was super cool! Sadly, I had not walked far enough for an Oreo cheesecake.  After a quick recharge I walked the rest of the journey and made it to school on time for my rehearsals which were fab!

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.

Ave Maria

December 18, 2016 — 94 Comments

It was such a treat to travel home yesterday with my brother Matt for the Christmas break, Tom my younger brother was also driving home at the same time from Glasgow. This year the timings were perfect as we were all able to make it home in time to celebrate my Dad’s birthday yesterday.

When we are all together it reminds me how lucky I am and gives me time to reflect on what has happened over the year and to plan and set my goals for the year to come. It is also a time to think about my friends, many of whom have started out on new paths of their journey through life. Some starting new careers, some studying towards their own personal goals and some starting families of their own. I wish each and every one of them a magical new year filled with happiness and contentment.

To all my friends here I want to thank you for your boundless enthusiasm, thoughtful advice, and sincere encouragement. You have helped make the last four years so enjoyable and personally rewarding and I can’t wait to see what 2017 brings.

Sadly 2016 also was the year that I lost my Mema (Grandma) who passed away in April. My Pepa (Grandpa) asked me to record a song to play at the funeral to help celebrate her life as the family gathered to say their farewells. It was a difficult song for me to perform and one of the last that I recorded quickly at the Royal College of Scotland. Because of the emotions that the song evoked, I found it difficult at first to listen back to the recording but now as I sit here with my family, having reflected on the blessings that we have all received throughout 2016 I felt it was a good time to share the recording with you.

Ave Maria – Schubert

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This last week has been a been a proper whirlwind for me and has absolutely flown by. The end of term is approaching at break neck speed and I cannot believe how quickly the last three months have disappeared.  I have so many things on my “to do list” and I am trying to get through them in an orderly manner.

Over the Christmas break I was hoping to put a little time aside to update the look of my website and blog.  It feels a little overwhelming to be honest as there are so many WordPress themes to consider.  I have a list of things that I would like to change and several more that I would like to keep the same.

When I started out I set up my blog using a WordPress hosted site, which as you all know can be a little limiting as you can’t use many of the wonderful plugins that are available. But my site has grown over the years and the thought of moving it now makes me nervous so I will probably stick with what I know. 

It would be really helpful to me if you have any tips that you have picked up over the years that you feel able to pass on, anything that may help me to improve the look and feel of my blog and bring it up to date.  I have checked out some of the themes available from WordPress and I like the look of “Arcane” but I need to check out some of the others before making my final choice which is why I would appreciate your help if you’ve experienced this site or know a better fit.