Archives For Sopranos

In The Dressing Room

On Tuesday, 22nd May I participated in my last opera scene at the Royal College of Music. It was so much fun and I learned so much from the process and from watching my talented peers.

Marcella di Garbo and Charlotte Hoather

Me and Marcella di Garbo

I sang the role of Governess alongside Marcella di Garbo as the ghostly Miss Jessel.

Henry James who wrote The Turn of the Screw in 1897 lived at that time in Sussex in a big Country house. He was interested in ‘spiritual phenomena’. Telling ghost stories at the time was a tradition during the Christmas holiday festivities. James had been told an anecdote by the archbishop of Canterbury of a couple of young children haunted by ghosts of a pair of servants who wish them ill. In the story the evil spirits of Miss Jessel the previous governess and Peter Quint formerly the valet try to lure the children to their deaths to get their souls.

The ghosts in the story are only visible to the Governess. Are the ghosts a figment of her neurotic imagination or is she the plucky saviour of her charges from damnation? This decision is usually left to the audience member to decide.

A new challenge that we both had to face together was singing in corsets for the first time. This is because our Director Stuart Barker placed our scene from Turn of the Screw in the middle of the nineteenth century, (fitting the original plot). It was fashionable at this time to wear a corset underneath your blouse/dress. Corsets during this period were shaped like an hourglass but were made longer to cover the hips. Luckily for singers, modern corset designs became more flexible, with less boning. This allows for a little more movement when breathing, but still, we have to adapt to the obvious restrictions still maintained by the design.

Marcella di Garbo and Charlotte Hoather On Stage 02

Marcell di Garbo and Me ( Photo Taken By Stuart Barker )

To make this work for me I had to be sure that I didn’t breathe out during my fitting, although I must admit that is was very tempting at the time. Luckily my singing teacher Rosa had warned me to take in a big breath during the fitting so that the corset allows for the expansion of the rib cage which is so important when singing.

Marcella di Garbo and Charlotte Hoather On Stage 01

When wearing a corset some movements become more restrictive such as bending over, (I was very careful not to drop any props!) and when changing levels from standing to sitting.  This was very interesting and luckily our wonderful costume mistress Alice Lessing allowed us to take the corsets to our stage rehearsals to practice. In keeping with this theme, Alice recommended to us to put our shoes and tights on before being fitted into the corset, as bending down to do them afterward is quite a task. This proved a very handy tip!

Charlotte Hoather On Stage 02

( Photo Taken By Stuart Barker )

I personally found singing in a corset quite helpful, it encouraged me to sit and stand upright helping me to maintain good poise and posture. It also gave my character a sense of control and seniority, which was useful as I wanted to depict my character as a strong and determined Governess who could be trusted to look after the children of the house. The corset also gave me something to feel, as I could sense my muscles expanding and contracting during my vocal line helping me to focus on supporting my breath evenly, which in turn helps to create a sustained legato line. All in all, it was a very valuable lesson and one that has given even more to think about when performing in costume.

But don’t get me wrong, I was quite happy to take it off during my breaks from the performance and I’m glad that they are no longer a staple of modern fashion.

In the scene the ghost of Miss Jessel actually appears in my school room from outside along the passages and the stairwell. ‘The room is mine, the children are mine, be gone you horrible, terrible woman!’ I then take up my pen to write of my concerns to the guardian of the children telling him I have something I must tell him about even though he has warned me not to disturb him.

Charlotte Hoather Claire Swale and Barbara Job

Me, Claire Swale, and Barbara Job backstage

Charlotte Hoather and Pianist Luch Colquhoun

Me with the amazing piano accompanist Lucy Colquhoun

Art Is Calling For Me

August 9, 2013 — 186 Comments

I would love to dedicate this post and these songs to my Mum who has her birthday later this week. She has always been an inspiration to me and my very best friend, although she will probably kill me when she sees that I have put this picture of us both on my blog 🙂

QueenPrincess

I have been working on ‘Art is Calling for Me’ for several years now, I have always imagined that I was a Princess and I when I first heard this song I just had to learn it 🙂

I used to get the cute factor when I was belting it out when I was thirteen but as each year has gone by all of my vocal teachers have expected improvements, extra frills, trills and as you watch it you’ll see what I mean, more character. I’m still working on that and there is still more comedic acting I could do, space allowing.

PrincessGroup

Russell Lomas, Charlotte Hoather and Colin Blamey ( Clarinet )

I have two versions of this recording, the first at Lytham Assembly rooms on 2nd August 2013, with the beautiful piano accompaniment of Russell Lomas, who was the former Head of Accompaniment at Chetham’s School of Music until his retirement in 2003, he was the only accompanist to appear on at least one televised programme in every series of the BBC TV Young Musician of the Year competition between the first year of the competition 1978 and 2004, Russell graduated from the Royal Manchester College of Music with a distinction in both Performers and Teachers Diplomas and was awarded the Ricordi Prize for Accompaniment.

The second recording was during my concert at St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh on Monday 5th August, with Marcus Kitchen accompanying me on this complicated piano piece, he also did a fabulous job and it was a newly learned piece for him.

I just could not decide between the two which one to post for you to watch. So I’ve decided to put both on in this post; let me know which you prefer and I’ll put the one with the most votes on to my performance (videos and recordings) page 🙂

Art is Calling For Me (I want to be a Prima Donna) is from the Broadway Comic Opera ‘The Enchantress’ (Victor Herbert / Harry B Smith). First performed in 1911 in the New York Theatre, New York. The style of the piece is ‘Romantic’.

I absolutely love this piece of music, I feel it was written for me 🙂 even though I can only dream of being a Princess.

First Version

Second Version

I hope you enjoy listening to them and please vote for your favourite 🙂