It’s nearly always a positive sign when time has rushed by, and hard to believe we are close to the end of the second week. We have already worked through most of the opera. After our director, Neil, revealed his spine-chilling rendition of events for Owen Wingrave on the first day of rehearsals, the cast and production team understand the collaborative vision we are heading towards for the opera. The rehearsal process is the chance to experiment, play and discuss ideas, taking what is written on the page and bringing those characters to life to tell the story.
We are fortunate enough to be rehearsing at Snape Maltings, bought by Britten in 1967, and lovingly transformed into a permanent home for the Aldeburgh Festival. During the first few weeks here we are rehearsing in the Britten Studio, marked out with any significant parts of the set and the use of some props to familiarise ourselves with what it will be like in the concert hall. As each week goes by new elements (such as set, costume, hair & make-up, lighting and finally the orchestra) are added into the process. It helps to continually focus the drama whilst ‘our world’ is coming into place around us. It’s an exhilarating process; I am being kept on my toes and am able to wonder how the family battle will develop each day.
There is much that is harsh and unforgiving between the family members, and we have had the chance to work one to one with Neil to find our individual journeys surrounding Owen’s decision to leave the military. All the characters take different steps to cope with their grief.
I consider myself very fortunate to be working in an area of such wild natural beauty. Even on a quick tea break I can pop outside and inhale a little tranquility before entering the ever-mounting tension of the Wingraves.
I have also spent time enjoying discovering Britten’s world by walking in his footsteps through Aldeburgh. The Jubilee Hall, Moot Hall, Scallop, his house by the sea, his grave, the fisherman’s fresh catch, and of course, the pebble beach catching the crashing waves all play their part in understanding a fuller picture of the man and his music. It has been fascinating and has enhanced my enjoyment of working on Owen Wingrave.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t take time to enjoy a good Sunday roast together on our day off! Susan Bullock and Richard Berkeley-Steele are not just showing their talent on the stage, but the kitchen too…
Lunch as a team! Richard Berkeley-Steele, Susan Bullock, Samantha Crawford, Catherine Backhouse, Isaiah Bell and Ross Ramgobin.
There are performances of Owen Wingrave at Snape Maltings Concert Hall as part of the Aldeburgh Festival, on Friday 13, Sunday 15, Monday 16 and Wednesday 18 June. Find out more and book tickets