Latest news: Grange Park Opera, ROH, Wimbledon Celebrations and Wexford Festival Opera
We returned to the Royal Opera House for another Live at Lunch concert, this time I was delighted to be joined by my favourite saxophonist Manu Brazo (who is tearing up the world of instagram at the moment!) - I remember when we asked Manu to do a take over for DEBUT, he’s now grown his community to over 10,000 followers sharing his journey as a musician. Really impressive stuff!
It also gave Paddy, Chris and myself another opportunity to perform Schubert’s Shepherd on the Rock for soprano, clarinet and piano. I love the piece as it moves from three really distinct sections from pastoral joy, to loss, to delight.
We were thrilled with the turn out at the Opera House and it was great to see some regular followers be able to make the concert, we really appreciated it! We also couldn’t pass up the photo opportunity….
Grange Park Opera - rehearsals through to opening night!
It’s been great to return to Grange Park Opera this summer. I continue to be blown away by the stunning theatre that Wasfi Kani and her team have built in the heart of Surrey. Since last year, the Theatre in the Woods now has an impressive colonnade running around the outside (with building work going on right up until opening night!) as well as a whole host of other additions to the grounds and inside the theatre itself.
We opened Verdi’s Don Carlos last week to a packed house. It is an EPIC opera and we’ve got some inspiring vocal performances leading the cast - my particular highlight is American soprano Marina Costa-Jackson who, from rehearsal room to opening night, has had the entire cast smitten by her heartbreakingly poised Elisabetta and vocal mastery (she’s also super lovely!). Grange Park is notorious for finding the best singers from around the globe and this production is true to form with performances also from Leonardo Capalbo as Don Carlos, Ruxandra Donose’s Princess Eboli & Brett Polegato as Rodrigo led by conductor Gianluca Marciano and the Orchestra of the English National Opera.
Other than the music, the other real treat of this production has been working within Leslie Traver’s design world. It’s one of my favourite aspects of opera - how each component needs to come together to create a really great show. Design is a huge part of this and the world the Leslie and director Jo Davies create is one of breathtaking simplicity, populated by bodies, light and darkness ruled over by a looming cross and luscious tree, the struggle between Church and State is powerful. From a practical point of view this means lots of burning candles (and heretics!) so the Stage Management team are busy continually fireproofing costumes and veils as well as manoeuvring huge pieces of set flying in and out of the wings. It’s one of those shows where you don’t want to be caught out backstage in the wings at the wrong time!
Hansel and Gretel - Instagram Take Over
As Hansel and Gretel opens a couple of weeks after Don Carlos it means that we have only just moved into the theatre for rehearsals. I’ll be doing another Instagram Take Over for Grange Park on opening night of the show (on Sunday 23 June), but for now you can take a look at the beginning of the process when we were first introduced to the set and I had my wig and moustache fitting for the Dew Fairy!
It’s my first time dressed as a man for a show and I have to say the process of moustache removal is SO PAINFUL! Mezzo sopranos (who often play trouser roles) I don’t know how you do it!? One of the best parts of the rehearsal process is how all the elements built towards opening night, you start just in a rehearsal room with piano and a few proxy props, you begin to add pieces of important costume (shoes, coats, hats etc) to rehearse with then you move into the theatre and add the set and lighting, then comes the costume and the orchestra and finally the audience! It’s a process that, for me, means character can keep developing as you spend more time in the shoes (literally) or the person you’re playing.
Photo shoot with Bill Knight
at The Travellers Club, Pall Mall
Reunited with Bill - it’s been over 4 years since our last shoot, so it was great to spend the morning getting some new shots within the regal walls of The Travellers Club in the heart of London.
From the Archive: A King’s Ransom by Patrick Hawes
February 2018 | Into Opera with the Britten Sinfonia
One of my favourite parts about starting to blog is discovering and bringing together footage from previous shows. As I’m sure many of you will have experienced, sometimes footage and photos can just get forgotten, so this is a great excuse for me to get more organised!
This video about the creative process of A King’s Ransom has some footage recorded live from the performance as well as some SUPER CUTE interviews with the kids - listening to the music sends me straight back there!
DEBUT at Shoreditch Treehouse
Since my last blog we’ve had THREE more DEBUT at Shoreditch Treehouse concerts and a whole host of amazing footage from the nights, here are some of my favourite photos from our evening in March.
Hosted by Lizzie Holmes soprano
Photographer Ben Tomlin
Some of my favourite reviews
We had such warm reviews from our evening this month, these are some of my favourite comments… read the rest here (we now have 350+!). It’s one of my favourite parts of working with Airbnb - having such close contact and feedback from our guests.
Have you joined us yet?
International Opera Awards
This year I helped out backstage at the International Opera Awards, chaperoning Opera Holland Park’s Community Chorus and helping to calm the nerves of the younger performers before they stepped onto stage for their performance. Conducted by Gareth Malone they performed ‘Help Me Believe’ – a piece commissioned by OHP for its Hope for Grenfell Memorial Gala last year.
This was my first year attending the International Opera Awards, and after a lovely glass of fizz in the interval and bumping into lots of friends I was feeling quite moved by the second half and utterly blown away by David Butt Philip’s performance.
Faust Dress Rehearsal at Royal Opera House
Fell in love with opera all over again watching this brilliant production of Gounod’s Faust by David McVicar.
Set in the decadence and elegance of 1870s Paris the production was vibrant and visceral, for me it was the gents who stole the show with thrilling performances by Erwin Schrott as Méphistophélès and Michael Fabiano as Faust.
Wimbledon No. 1 Court Celebration Concert with Joseph Calleja
It had been a busy couple of weeks with intensive Grange Park Opera rehearsals so we were all quite tired, but once it came to the performance the fatigue was replaced with utter euphoria. It was my first time performing to a crowd of 12,000 and my goodness was the energy from the crowd electric!
We had the privilege of accompanying the world renowned Maltese tenor Joseph Calleja (what a star!) with the BBC Concert Orchestra in two of the biggest tunes from the world of popular classical music: Puccini’s ‘Nessun dorma’ and ‘Time to Say Goodbye’, broadcast live onto BBC1.
The day before was spent in rehearsal, in addition to giving us time to practice the music together this was also an important time for the cameras as they plotted the shots for the live show the next day on BBC. It was funny to see all the sweeping shots of the empty seats, to be filled in 24 hours by the crowds that came to the performance. It of course makes total sense that this needs to be done, but it was something that hadn’t really crossed my mind before. The overall operation was huge!
The icing on the cake came with seats 3 rows from the front watching some legends of tennis play including Venus Williams in a serious singles match and an hilarious match (with lots of silliness including switching the ball boy into play and jumping over the net) from Lleyton Hewitt, Goran Ivanisevic and Jamie Murray.
With my great buddy (and kick-ass mezzo soprano) Jessica Costelloe and her baby brother!
If you’ve taken the time to check out this post, please do leave a message - I’d love to hear from you!
Perhaps about what your musical passions/discovers of the moment are or if you have any questions etc.. or just say hi!