By Benedict Kearns, répétiteur 2018/19

11 October 2018


As we come to the end of our fourth week at the National Opera Studio, I’m delighted to have this opportunity to write about some of the experiences we’ve enjoyed so far. I’ve been struck by the way we répétiteurs and singers have bonded so quickly; as well as feeling like a professional company, it also feels like a family.

In our second week, we performed a short recital for the Board of the National Opera Studio (which includes the heads of ENO, the Royal Opera, Opera North, Glyndebourne, Scottish Opera and WNO) and last week, the singers had one-to-one coaching sessions with David Cowan, Head of Music at Opera North. It is truly inspiring to watch everyone take these occasions in their stride. We have a fantastically international selection of Young Artists this year, including those hailing from France, Romania, Malta, South Africa and Australia. We have already been put through our paces in audition workshops, Stanislavsky workshops, Italian language immersion, German language immersion, individual coachings with renowned pianist Iain Burnside and far more besides; every day is new and exciting! As répétiteurs, we have been working closely with each of our three singers on all of their repertoire from mélodies to Lieder to English Song and arias. I have the pleasure of working with two incredible mezzo sopranos, Beth Moxon and Marvic Monreal, as well as inimitable baritone, Nicholas Mogg.

On the evening of October 4th, we were officially introduced as National Opera Studio’s 40th year of Young Artists, generously hosted by Bob and Elisabeth Boas at their beautiful Georgian home in Marylebone. During the day, we rehearsed in their Drawing Room. I was particularly enamoured of their stunning Steinway, situated in a room full of equally stunning works of art. As the rehearsals finished, we got ready as the guests began to arrive; the excitement in the house was palpable as they took their seats. Each singer sang two arias of their choosing and the audience were not left wanting for a diverse programme! Margo Arsane kicked off the evening with a sparkling rendition of ‘Noble seigneurs, salut!’ from Berlioz’s Les Huguenots, and the evening continued with arias by Menotti, Mozart, Massenet and many more. Marvic Monreal ended the evening with her performance of Carmen’s ‘Séguedille’, which had all of the flair of Seville with a hint of Maltese spice. The audience were surprised with an encore of The Easter Hymn from Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana in an ingenious arrangement by Jeremy Silver, which I was delighted to conduct. Afterwards, we descended to the Hall and Dining Room to eat, drink and be merry with the guests.

The next morning, we were of course back at the Studio in Wandsworth from 10:30am and raring to go! During the coming weeks, we are looking forward to Resilience Week (where we will have sessions with a performance coach, a dietician, an osteopath and a Feldenkrais practitioner, amongst other things!) and preparing for our residency with Opera North, which focuses on music from the time of the First World War.


Header image: Benedict Kearns in rehearsal for 'Overture: Meet the 2018/19 Young Artists' © NOS 2018