Announcing the Cast of Die Fledermaus

We are pleased to announce the cast of Die Fledermaus!

Claire Wild

Claire Wild

Claire Wild attended the Royal Northern College of Music‚ sponsored by the Peter Moores Foundation and the Musicians Benevolent Fund. She won the Webster Booth Award‚ the James Oncken Song Prize and the Frost Brownson Award.      

Highlights in recent seasons include Lilli Vanessi / Katharine in Kiss Me, Kate and Elle La voix humaine for Welsh National Opera, Susanna Le nozze di Figaro for Regents Opera and Petra in A Little Night Music for Opera Project at West Green House, Welsh National Opera as Emma in Khovanshchina and Garsington Opera as Caridad The Skating Rink, a newly commissioned opera by David Sawer.

Concert repertoire includes ElijahMessiah‚ Carmina Burana, Bach St Matthew Passion, Mozart C Minor Mass. She has performed Dallapicolla Commiato and Stravinsky Pulcinella (Royal Northern Sinfonia) and Christmas and New Year Galas (Raymond Gubbay, Orchestra of Opera North, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and London Concert Orchestra) and Messiah (City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra).

 

Abigail Kelly

Abigail Kelly

Abigail Kelly gained a post graduate diploma in operatic studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and completed her undergraduate studies at Birmingham Conservatoire with a first class honours degree.

Abigail’s operatic roles include Susanna and Barbarina (The Marriage of Figaro – Mozart) English Touring Opera (ETO), Pamina (The Magic Flute – Mozart) Opera Up Close, Ninetta (La Gazza Ladra – Rossini) Midland Opera, Fido (Paul Bunyan – Britten) ETO, Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro – Mozart) Opéra de Baugé, First Boy (The Magic Flute – Mozart) ETO, First Lady (The Magic Flute – Mozart) Opera Minima, Despina (Così fan tutte – Mozart) ETO, Naiad (Rusalka – Dvořák) ETO, Cobweb (A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Britten) ETO and Belinda (Dido and Aeneas – Purcell).

Internationally Abigail has performed as a featured artist with Opera South Africa and the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra and has given solo recitals in Kingston Jamaica, Hungary, Montserrat, The Cayman Islands, Germany and Poland.

Abigail’s performances in newer works include the role of Queen Nanny of the Maroons in Shirley Thompson’s one woman opera Sacred Mountain (Tête à Tête 2015, Edna Manley School of Visual and Performing Arts, Kingston, Jamaica 2016); performer and originator of the role of Una in Melanie Wilson’s Opera for the Unknown Woman (2016 UK tour); Girl in Stephen Oliver’s The Waiter’s Revenge (Birmingham Opera Company); performances and recording of Michael Stimpson’s The Sharecroppers Son, (Ashley Wood Festival); Dido in Luca Francesconi’s Lips, eyes…..bang with the Thallein Ensemble; the role of Dido Elizabeth Belle in Shirley J Thompson’s Spirit of the Middle Passage at Queen Elizabeth Hall with the London Philharmonia; the roles of Jamaican girl and Mrs Grant in Richard Chew’s Mary Seacole The Opera and the role of Sara in Jonathan Dove’s Tobias and the Angel (Bollington Festival Opera).

As a keen anamateur and advocate of children’s opera, Abigail has performed in many operas written for younger audiences and often in particular for young people with special educational needs. Performances produced by English Touring Opera include This is my bed by Pete Letanka, performed at the Polka Theatre and the Luxembourg Philharmonie; Midnight Moon and Red Blue Green by Tim Yealland; Waxwings by Clive and Mark Ives; the roles of Sophia and Yelena in the award winning children’s opera Laika the Space Dog by Russel Hepplewhite, performances including a UK schools tour, Armel Opera Festival in Hungary and L’Opera Grand in Avignon. Abigail has performed in many children’s operas and devised pieces by Tim Yealland and Rachel Leach including Spin (Luxembourg Philharmonie) In the Belly of the Horse (Tricycle Theatre, London and UK schools tour) and Mad Spirits (The Arts Depot, London).

 

David Horton

David Horton

David hails from Devon and studied at the Alexander Gibson Opera School at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) under the tutelage of Scott Johnson and was a grateful recipient of a scholarship from the RCS Trust. Previous training includes a BMus Hons from the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) and a year spent in Sydney, Australia, studying with Dr Rowena Cowley.

David’s recent operatic roles include: Moon/King of the East,The Enchanted Pig (Hampstead Garden Opera), multiple roles, including The Lover/The Friend/The Preacher The Vanishing Bridegroom (British Youth Opera), Eisenstein Die Fledermaus (RCS Opera), Tristan Le Vin Herbé (RCS Opera), Gaudienzo Il Signor Bruschino (Raucous Rossini) and a number of roles in English Eccentrics (British Youth Opera).

David has performed in a number of British and world premieres, most notably the UK Premiere of Kurt Schwertzik’s Shal-i-mar which was performed with the RNCM Symphony Orchestra. He also played Magician 1 in Henry McPherson’s opera Ūhte, recorded and filmed in conjunction with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Martyn Brabbins and premiered at the RCS Plug Festival 2016.

On the concert stage David has performed across Britain, most recently singing the eponymous St Nicholas by Benjamin Britten with Cupar Choral Society, Handel’s Messiah with GCCS at Glasgow Cathedral, a selection of Bach Cantatas with Ludus Baroque in Edinburgh and the tenor solos in Mozart’s Requiem at the Hargrave Music Festival. Whilst studying in Scotland, David also performed the tenor solos in Bach’s Magnificat and Haydn’s Nelson Mass with the Glasgow Cathedral Choral Society (GCCS) and Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Symphony Orchestra.

Summer 2018 saw David sing the title role in Bernstein’s Candide with Iford Arts Festival to great acclaim and Vanderdendur Candide for West Green House Opera, as well as Henry Crawford in Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park for Waterperry Opera.

Among his future projects this autumn, he sings and records the role of John in C.V. Stanford’s The Travelling Companion for New Sussex Opera, with performances at Cadogan Hall, London and Saffron Hall.

 

Samuel Pantcheff

Samuel Pantcheff

Samuel Pantcheff studied with Glenville Hargreaves and Audrey Hyland at Royal Academy Opera, after graduating with Distinction from the Masters in Vocal Performance. In his first year of study, he was awarded the Blythe-Buesst Opera Prize. He was supported by the Mills Williams Award and the Norman McCann Prize

Opera engagements include Leporello for Head First Productions, Lumaca La scuola de gelosi for Bampton Classical Opera, Sharpless at the King’s Head Theatre, Papageno for Pavilion Opera, Baron Zeta The Merry Widow for Ryedale Festival Opera, Guglielmo for Pop-Up Opera, The Younger Gentleman in Exposition of a Picture by Stephen Oliver, conducted by Stephen Barlow for the Buxton Festival, Eight Songs for a Mad King with the Melos Sinfonia at the Grimeborn Festival and St Petersburg (Russian premiere), Aeneas (Helios Collective), Zareskty/Captain Eugene Onegin (RAO) , L’horloge comtoise/Le chat L’enfant et les sortileges at the Barbican with Stéphane Denève and the BBCSO.  He has sung the baritone roles in Alexander Goehr’s Tryptich on tour in Russia, and Ligeti’s Nouvelles Aventures and Aventures at the St Petersburg Philharmonia.

Other operatic experience includes Masino La vera costanza (RAO), Nardo (cover) La finta giardiniera, Storm Wind (cover) in Rimksy-Korsakov’s Kaschei the Deathless, and Commercial/Legal Councillors (covers) Intermezzo all for Buxton Festival Opera; Schaunard La Bohème, and Cadmus Semele. Roles in RAO scenes include Spencer Coyle Owen Wingrave, Ping Turandot, Don Giovanni, Harlekin and Simeon L’enfant prodigue.

Oratorio solo experience includes Ode to Saint Cecilia (Dunedin Consort), Cantatas BWV74, BWV106 (Royal Albert Hall/Kohn Foundation Bach Cantata Series), Messiah (Johannesburg Concert Orchestra), and St Matthew Passion (Israel Camerata). Highlights for 2018 include St Matthew Passion (Salisbury Cathedral) and Brahms German Requiem (St John’s Smith Square). He has worked as a soloist with Sir John Eliot Gardiner singing Bach Cantatas in venues across Europe including the Concertgebouw, Vienna Musikverein, Köln Philharmonie, Bach Fest (Leipzig) and the Barbican Concert Hall.

He is currently singing Juan in Joseph Phibbs’s new opera Juliana premiered at the Cheltenham Festival in July 2018, and with Scottish Opera in BambinO.

 

Leo Geyer

Leo Geyer – MD & Bassoon

Leo Geyer is a young composer and conductor with a passion for imaginative, daring and dramatic approaches to music-making, encompassing new work, cross-disciplinary collaborations and re-imaginings of existing music. He is the Founder and Artistic Director of Constella OperaBallet, Cover Conductor for The Royal Ballet and Music Director for EMG Symphony Orchestra, and works as a guest artist internationally.

Leo has received various accolades for composition, having most recently been awarded the Lord Mayor’s Composition Prize. He has received particular acclaim for his stage works, including his opera The Mermaid of Zennor, described by The Times as “imaginative and beautifully shaped”. Leo has fulfilled major commissions, which include works for the European Capital of Culture, Tate St. Ives, Opera North, Rambert Dance Company and BBC Singers. Leo is also establishing a reputation for his “re-imaginings,” which creatively engage with music of the past to extend its significance for today’s audiences. Most notably this has included the addition of a chorus to Elgar’s Enigma Variations to provide a possible solution to the “enigma puzzle”.

As well as his current conducting positions, Leo also works as a guest conductor, collaborating with The National Theatre, Ensemble 212 (USA), AUT (Denmark) and Southbank Sinfonia. Leo’s performances continue to receive critical acclaim, such as Constella’s performance of Pierrot Lunaire: “Leo Geyer directed with authority and complete command of an immensely demanding score”, British Theatre. Upcoming engagements include Theater an der Wien (Austria) and the English Chamber Orchestra.

Aged 19, Leo founded an orchestra which has now grown to become Constella OperaBallet – the world’s only company dedicated to the fusion of opera and ballet. Leo has brought together some of the UK’s finest young artists in over 60 critically acclaimed performances across the UK including broadcasts on TV and radio. Upcoming projects include a performance as part of the Chelsea Flower Show, a production as part of The Brontë Society’s bicentenary celebrations, an opera-ballet bringing to light undiscovered music written in Auschwitz, and national project celebrating coal mining to be performed in a specially commissioned touring installation

London-born, Leo studied Manchester University and the Royal Northern College of Music on the Joint Course, graduating with two first class degrees and The Soroptimists International of Manchester Award for Composers/Conductors. As part of his studies, Leo also attended the Vienna University of Music and Performing Arts to study conducting with Uroš Lajovic.

www.leogeyer.co.uk.

 

Henry Rankin

Henry Rankin – Violin

Originally from Northamptonshire and based in Manchester, Henry Rankin is a violinist, violist and multi-instrumentalist. He has wealth of experience playing with a whole host of different acts across a diverse range of genres. In 2014 he graduated from the University of Manchester, having studied violin with Julia Hanson, and completed a MMus at the Royal Northern College of Music studying violin and viola with Susie Mészáros (with generous support from the Edna Newill Charitable Trust) in 2017. Since graduating, he has straddled the classical and pop worlds performing with orchestras such as the Manchester Camerata, Skipton Camerata and Kaleidoscope Orchestra and with bands such as Public Service Broadcasting as well as playing ‘Mrs Scraper’ in Constella OperaBallet’s production ‘Sideshows’. In Autumn 2017 he concluded a sixteen-date UK/European arena tour with singer/songwriter Sophie Morgan in support of folk rock icons The Waterboys and most recently a run of showcases at SXSW festival (Austin, Texas) with artist Chloe Foy. As a session musician and arranger he has performing credits on several pop releases, one of which reached number nine in the UK album charts.

 

Ilona Suomalainen

Ilona Suomalainen – Accordion

Originally from Helsinki, Finland, Ilona Suomalainen graduated with a Masters degree from the Royal Academy of Music in 2017, studying under professor Owen Murray. Since then, she has gone on to establish a varied and diverse career as a freelance accordionist in the UK, with recent projects including work with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Aurora Orchestra, Opera Holland Park and Birmingham Opera Company. Outside of classical music, she regularly performs with the Israeli pop-jazz singer Irit Dekel, most recently supporting Caro Emerald and Lisa Stansfield on their respective UK nationwide tours.

Before moving to London, Ilona graduated from the Sibelius-Academy in Helsinki with a MMus degree studying with professors Matti Rantanen, Veli Kujala and Mika Väyrynen. In 2006, she won first-prize in the Finnish National Youth Accordion Competition and with her accordion trio, BCH, won the Chamber Music, Accordion Orchestra and Overall categories at the 2011 International Accordion Competition in Pula, Croatia. The trio also received the prize for the highest points ever awarded in the competition’s history.

A passionate teacher and educator, Ilona currently teaches accordion at the International School of London and privately across London. As part of her studies at the Sibelius-Academy, she also undertook an intensive course in specialised pedagogical training, which qualifies her to teach in educational institutions from pre-school to university.

Re-imagining opera for the high street: the libretto

After the success of last year’s Cosi Fan Tutte and with the amazing opportunity afforded by Wimbledon Foundation’s Arts & Community Engagement Fund, we were excited to get to work on the tricky but satisfying process of adapting another opera for performances along the high street to reach audiences who might never go to see an opera in a traditional opera house / theatre venue.

As we’d had such positive audience responses to our adaptation of Cosi, we decided to have the same team re-writing Die Fledermaus – myself, Artistic Director Joanna Turner, re-writing the libretto (the words the characters sing) and Leo Geyer re-writing the music (changing what’s written for a full orchestra to 3 instruments, changes to vocal lines and of course making sure our massive cuts work musically). Together Leo and I also cut the opera down to about an hour and adapt it to make sense for the modern high street. Read more

School kids considering a career in opera!

Holy Trinity Primary School Workshop

A few weeks ago we had a great time running workshops for various primary and secondary schools across Merton and Wandsworth teaching Years 5 & 6 about opera as part of our Die Fledermaus project.

We asked our brilliant workshop leaders James, Elliott and Danae to tell us a bit more about how they went….. Read more

Die Fledermaus School Workshops

Students workshop at St Marks Academy

As part of our exciting Die Fledermaus project we are running a series of workshops in primary and secondary schools across Merton & Wandsworth this July. These workshops teach young people about opera giving many of them an insight into an art form they might not otherwise encounter. They learn about what opera is and who is involved in creating it; the story and characters of Die Fledermaus and our modern adaptation; they learn to sing and act out the characters of a section of the opera themselves; and they get to hear a professionally trained opera singer sing right next to them and sing with her!

We can’t wait for our three talented workshop leaders to get working with all these schools in a few weeks. Meanwhile, you can learn a bit more about them here: Read more

Sharing Creative Skills…

May has kicked off with a busy couple of weeks for the Baseless Fabric Team as we gear up for our Cosi Fan Tutte performances in June, prepare for our Die Fledermaus school workshops in July as well as collaborating with local theatre company Attic to run another successful Merton Creative Networking Event.

St Teresa’s Primary School opera workshop

In July we’ll be offering schools in Merton and Wandsworth opera workshops to give young people an insight into what opera is, hear a professional opera singer sing right next to them and teach them to sing and act out the characters of an opera duet themselves. We have professional drama practitioners, musical directors and opera singers leading these school workshops and as part of the process of choosing these practitioners for our forthcoming workshops we recently held a Skills Sharing Workshop to meet workshop leaders new to Baseless Fabric. Read more

Our new production supported by Wimbledon Foundation

Pop up Opera Performance at Wimbledon Foundation

Pop Up Opera Performance at Wimbledon Foundation

We are beyond thrilled to announce that we have been awarded funding by the Wimbledon Foundation’s new Arts and Community Engagement Fund (ACE) to create our next Merton Street Opera!

Following on from the success of Drifting Dragons (2016) and Cosi Fan Tutte (2017) we are now re-imagining Johann Strauss’ Die Fledermaus for free unticketed high street performances enabling everyone to experience high quality professional opera for free. Read more