My year’s first opera at Guildhall last term was Le Donne Curiose by Wolf-Ferrari. It can be slightly daunting taking on a role in an opera which you never even heard of, however the opera was very well cast and I found the opera growing on me. It truly does have some beautiful moments.
Although characters were drawn from typical stock characters, it was important that we found light and shade, and director Stephen Barlow was amazing with helping me on this journey of discovery as I worked hard to take on the direction I was being given. I thought my character to be far more naïve and sweet at first. Anger is often hard to portray, who wants to look like the bad guy to people?
Manipulation is a harsh method of trying to extract truth out of someone else and getting them to do what we want them to do, and often as humans we do it without knowing. That is why it is essential that it comes from a place of truth. It is not until we reach deep into ourselves and reach for feelings we have felt before, that these feelings can be depicted on stage as true (rather than trying to mimic the actions without having any deeper place where they come from). If they come from a place of truth, then the honesty and vulnerability is interesting to an audience, because they can relate, because they are human. It was hard to see that Rosaura just wasn’t as nice as I wanted her to be!
Of course then there are the beautiful honest moments, which are particularly special because of the very fact that it shows the vulnerability. Conductor Mark Shanahan helped me to find that honest vulnerability in the voice, by reminding me that I do not need to put the emotion into the voice, but to allow the words to do the talking, something that we are constantly being taught on this course. Italian coach, Matteo Dalle Fratte, did a great job of making sure that every word we sang was very clear!
It was a great learning experience and I got some wonderful reviews too, always a good thing! AND I got to work in period costume… I tell you, it’s not as simple as it looks, especially when you have to run around the stage, be dragged by Harlequin then jump on him while singing a top C, and in the end pull a balancing act to stand on a slippery table with pies flying around you, and praying that you don’t get pie on you because wardrobe would have one hell of a job to get it off! Ah…yes there were quite a few antics on-stage…pity if you missed it, it was indeed a funny show 😉 We had some good laughs! In the photo on the right, you can see my amazing Donne colleagues, Bethan Langford as my mum Beatrice, Katarzyna Balejko as our maid Colombina, and Elizabeth Karani as our posh friend Eleonora.
Below were Rosaura’s Florindi, Elgan Thomas and Thomas Atkins, and below that, the curtain call (Photos are courtesy of Clive Barda).