After a wonderful week here with our Intro Short Summer Course, last week at the studio we welcomed a lovely bunch of singers to our latest Intensive Summer Course. Working on three arias throughout the week, they enjoyed their sessions with our vocal coaches Martin Pacey and Della Jones, accompanied by our band of intrepid répétiteurs.
As well as these challenging sessions, our singers focused on the art of stagecraft with director Olivia Fuchs, broke a sweat in Mandy Demetriou's movement workshop, and delved deep into the emotions behind their arias with our NOS Head of Music Mark Shanahan.
All of this culminated in a superb performance on Friday evening in the Blackburn Hall, where the singers performed everything from Puccini to Mozart to Rossini. Congrats to all!
Last week at the studio we had a wonderful time with the singers on our Intro Summer Course. During the week they threw themselves into stagecraft workshops with opera director John Ramster, rehearsing scenes from Mozart’s Così fan tutte and Le nozze di Figaro, as well as Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi.
Alongside this they had rehearsals and vocal workshops with National Opera Studio director Kathryn Harries, and Assistant Head of Music Jeremy Silver. In these sessions throughout the week the students rehearsed and perfected their arias, including music from everything from Floyd’s Susannah to Handel’s Xerxes.
Their hard work was then presented to family and friends in a concert on Saturday 6th September, and was a huge success. Well done to all of them!
‘The Studio produces singers and performers who really know how to entertain an audience'
Ingrid Surgenor, a senior coach at the NOS for many years, organised a concert in early July in the beautiful venue of Rhosygilwen near Cardigan in Wales.. Five NOS singers, Sioned Gwen Davies, Trystan Griffiths, Adam Gilbert and Mat Durkan (all 2014-2015) and Celine Forrest (joining in 2015-2016) sang scenes from Cosi Fan Tutte, against a beautiful garden backdrop. With the men starting in Welsh rugby kit and ‘disguising’ themselves with English shirts, they brought the house down. The artists received standing ovations on both evenings.
Today is British Sign Language day! At the Studio we strive to make our work accessible to all and have developed a number of programmes to explore the beauty of BSL in a performance context and to inspire interpreters to bring Opera to a deaf audience.
We commissioned Arts Access Consultant, Adele Ward to engage the UK’s foremost Sign Language interpreter of sung music, Wendy Ebsworth to work together to design and deliver a course for BSL interpreters. This short CPD course, for Registered Sign Language Interpreters, encouraged participants to step beyond the constraints of the BSL/English continuum and find their own way to express the emotion and action of sung music. Day one focused on how interpreting for sung performance is not just about how we use language – how to convey the emotions, tension and humour in a show. The group discussed how Deaf theatre and performance is different from interpreted performance and looked at how the choices interpreters make can influence Deaf audience members’ experience of both opera and musical theatre. On the second day, the group were joined by singers and a pianist from The National Opera Studio to explore the process of translation and working with musicians to prepare songs for performance.
In the autumn term trainee's had the opportunity to work with NOS Head of Music, Mark Shanahan and Adele Ward in a session designed to improve their communication as performers. Adele is a Registered Sign Language Interpreter and works with performers through BSL and using a variety of methods including Meisner Technique. Having trained at The Academy of Live and Recorded Arts and worked as an actor, she has combined BSL interpreting with performance and worked with some of the UK’s foremost theatre and dance companies, including Graeae and CandoCo.
This weekend NOS alumni Katie Grosset and Tim Hawken popped into the Pleasance Theatre to entertain Mark Watson and fellow comedians performing non-stop for 27 hours in aid of Comic Relief. Katie and Tim received a standing ovation after performing Carmen infront of an appreciative audience of 200 and the performance was streamed online to thousands supporting the impressive fundraiser.
Comedian Mark Watson was joined on stage by Adam Hills, Emma Kennedy, Rufus Hound, and Susan Calman as he celebrated completing his epic comedy marathon. Special Guests included Emma Freud, Jennifer Saunders, Gillian Anderson, Russell Brand, Miranda Hart, Sarah Millican and Lauren Lavern.
From beans to bake off, the carnival of planned mayhem, spontaneous mayhem, and one slightly knackered bloke being funny for a very, very long time certainly paid off, with Watson raising £78,257 and counting for the charity. Thank you to Katie and Tim for giving their time for this excellent cause and for hitting the right notes in peculiar circumstances whilst being watched by a man riding a goat...
Rachel Kelly (mezzo, 2013) as Persephone and Callum Thorpe as Pluto
Photograph: Stephen Cummiskey © ROH/Roundhouse
Four NOS alumni are currently starring in the Royal Opera House’s first-ever staging of Monteverdi’s Orfeo, in collaboration with - and running at - the Roundhouse. Rachel Kelly (mezzo, 2013) takes the role of Persephone, whilst soprano Susanna Hurrell (2013) is Nymph. Tenors (both 2012) Anthony Gregory and Alexander Sprague are First Shepherd and Third Shepherd/Hope respectively. Michael Boyd's first opera direction and Tim Piper's set design combine to create a spectacle giving 'an exciting new perspective on the greatest of all early operas'.
Tickets have sold fast for this production, but if you’re lucky (and fast) there might be a few left here:
The final performance is on Saturday 24th January, so get your skates on - this is one not to miss!
Here is an idea of how the media has been receiving our brilliant alumni, and the production overall (links to full reviews below):
“… Anthony Gregory and Alexander Sprague (the Shepherds)
are also outstanding in an altogether first-class cast”
Rupert Christiansen, Telegraph
“This collaboration between the Roundhouse and the Royal Opera House is full of simple and superbly effective touches, with a strong cast of soloists”
Andrew Clements, The Guardian
“Rachel Kelly’s Proserpina stood out for the sheer beauty of her tone and the elegance of her phrasing… Anthony Gregory and Alexander Sprague shone… Susanna Hurrell’s Nymph gave as much pleasure as did her Erisbe in L’Ormindo”
Melanie Eskenazi, MusicOMH.com
Music OMH: http://www.musicomh.com/classical/reviews-classical/orfeo-roundhouse-london
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