Work, rest and play
Faint sounds of the piano waft across the boating lake from the restaurant, intermingled with families enjoying picnics, swans gliding through the water, and birdsong. So much varied, delightful, calming birdsong. In case you haven’t guessed I am relaxing during my day off, having taken the walk along the coast to the neighbouring village of Thorpeness. Upon my return to Aldeburgh I was surprised to find myself in the centre of the ‘Samantha,’ Morris dance and being lifted into the air above the crowd – all in a day here! Travelling and seeing local beauty where you work is a highlight of working in opera, Aldeburgh and Suffolk being no exception.
This moment of stillness is a far cry from the committed work happening in rehearsals this week. As relationships develop, on stage and off, all involved have found new depths to understanding their characters in Owen Wingrave. I have been fortunate enough to work in detail with Janis Kelly (playing Mrs. Julian) helping me develop the natural speech rhythms in Britten’s score. His attention to detail in setting words means much of the work is done for me. However, Mrs. Coyle has several moments where there is very little orchestra playing when she sings, further emphasising the need for total clarity in thought, from which comes good diction.
With the opera originally being devised for close up television viewing, it has been fascinating translating these more intimate moments to the stage. Neil has successfully found ways to focus the action drawing the eye exactly where it needs to be. Mark, our conductor, is also excellent at finding the right musical pulse to match the conversations on stage. Working with a wonderful team of collegues has made me feel how fortunate I am to learn from their years of experience. They show a passion for excellence in their art, with a healthy dose of fun when work is finished.
The start of week four hails the arrival of our male acting chorus, making our rehearsals busier still, that’s not even including the children’s chorus joining us soon. Excitement is mounting, but I cannot say too much without revealing juicy details, so I’ll just say if you miss the show, you’ll miss out! This week also sees the arrival of the ladies’ corsets for rehearsals – time to reconsider the delicious homemade cakes we are offered every day? Possibly…