2018, what a year…

What a year 2018 was for Baseless Fabric! We began the year with the thrilling news that we were the first recipient of the Wimbledon Foundation’s prestigious new Arts and Community Engagement Fund for our new street opera project Die Fledermaus!

This project, with the additional support of Arts Council England, Merton Council and the Samuel Gardner Memorial Trust, encompasses the creative adaptation of an opera for the high street, the free professional performances, workshops for both schools and elderly lunch clubs and two school parallel productions! So while the project has similarities to our previous street operas Drifting Dragons and Cosi Fan Tutte, it is also bigger and better than ever!

Die Fledermaus R&D Rehearsal

During 2018 we creatively adapted the opera for the high street with Artistic Director Joanna Turner re-writing the libretto, Leo Geyer re-writing the music for 3 instruments, and our exciting professional cast exploring sections of the new adaptation in our Research & Development period and showing a few scenes to an invited audience at Wimbledon Theatre Studio in November 2018. During 2019 the libretto and score will undergo further development, the cast will undertake a full rehearsal period leading to the free unticketed performances in early August 2019. And before then we have to develop relationships with all the businesses we wish to perform in (about 50!), some new some old across both Merton and Wandsworth, so we can bring our unique re-imagining of Die Fledermaus to a high street near you. Being a Merton Best Business Award Finalist for Best in the Creative Sector this year will no doubt help.

Cast & Crew from Cosi Fan Tutte at The Offies Awards

We revived our previous street opera Cosi Fan Tutte in June 2018 after we were a Finalist for Best Opera Production at the OffWestEnd Awards in March. It was fantastic to welcome back the old team as well as new faces Louisa Tee, Ilona Suomalainen and Zanete Uskane to bring the 5-star production to life again in Colliers Wood The Qube Shopping Centre, Mitcham town centre, and a thrilling indoor evening adaptation in Wimbledon’s Merton Arts Space.

In July 2018 we continued our success of bringing opera taster workshops to local schools to introduce young people to opera in a modern, accessible and relevant way and excite as many young people as we can with this wonderful art form. Our brilliant workshop leaders Elliott, James and Danae inspired over 400 young people in both primary and secondary schools in Merton and Wandsworth with the teacher at Swaffield Primary telling them “many of the young people were now considering a career in opera!”

St Marks Primary School Workshop

We can’t wait to inspire many more young people both in our similar taster workshops in summer 2019 and in our hugely exciting new parallel productions running from January to August 2019! The two lucky groups at Cranmer Primary and St John Bosco College will work with their workshop leaders on a fortnightly basis over this period to create their own spin-off productions inspired by Die Fledermaus – we can’t wait to see what they get up to!

Another exciting piece of news in 2018 was that we were awarded a Santander Discovery Grant for another young people’s project. Building on our success of working with libraries during our 2017 Reunion & Dark Pony production and associated outreach, we will be offering free drama workshops at Mitcham Library to expand their offer of cultural activity in an area where opportunities for such activity for young people might be limited. We’re so pleased to have been awarded this grant and will update you soon with more details of the workshops taking place this year.

Artistic Director Joanna Turner with son Sam in rehearsals

Excitingly Baseless Fabric had two new people joining the team in 2018 – Astrid Hilne became our General Manager and Rachel Barnett-Jones joined our Board of Trustees. The experience and hard work of both has been invaluable and we have no doubt will continue to be so during 2019. And Artistic Director Joanna brought her new baby son into the Die Fledermaus R&D rehearsals who was named the new company mascot by the cast!

Now Christmas is over and the new year is well underway, we’re hard at work planning the upcoming parts of the Die Fledermaus project, the Mitcham Library workshops and planning further ahead – so thank you so much for your continued support and we can’t wait to see what this year brings…

And all the best to you for a happy and successful 2019!


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

Cosi Fan Tutte Street Opera Performance Dates

Musicians playing during 'Drifting Dragons' (2016) street opera

Musicians playing during ‘Drifting Dragons’ (2016) street opera

It’s all coming together for Cosi Fan Tutte Street Opera! We’re super excited to announce our performance dates across the borough of Merton with the starting point in each area. The first scene will take place in the place mentioned below but we’ll shortly be moving on to the next local business for the next scene. So come prepared to follow the story along the high street with scenes taking place in a variety of different businesses with just a short walk in between.  We’ve got some crackers of places this year! It’ll be huge fun. 

Running time is about an hour but don’t forget, you’re free to stay for as long or as little as you like. So if you’ve never seen opera before but can only stay for 10mins just come watch the first scene – what have you got to lose?!  Read more

Announcing our Cosi Fan Tutte R&D Cast

We are proud to announce our singers for the Cosi Fan Tutte street opera R&D. 

The Cast

Felicity Buckland – Dorabella

Felicity Buckland

Felicity trained at the RNCM, and on ENO’s Opera Works programme. She studies privately with Mary Plazas.

Her operatic appearances include Angelina La Cenerentola (High Time Opera); Cherubino The Marriage of Figaro (Opera Up Close); Cupid Orpheus in the Underworld and Ida/cover Orlovsky Die Fledermaus (Opera Danube); Una, Kiss Me, Figaro! (Merry Opera) and Mercedes Carmen (Co-Opera Co). She has also spent seasons in the chorus at Opera Holland Park, as a chorus mentor for Birmingham Opera, and at English Touring Opera, where she also sang the role of Mama in Dust Child, a specially-written opera for children with special educational needs.

Felicity is in demand for solo oratorio, and performs and records extensively as a professional consort singer, including appearing on Eric Whitacre’s Grammy Award-winning choral disc, Light and Gold. She is also a singing tutor and experienced choral animateur, leading workshops for a variety of groups of people.

Felicity is currently preparing the role of Rossweisse in Die Walküre for Grange Park Opera, in their brand new theatre at West Horsley Place. Read more

Announcing our new production

Following the success of our new Merton street opera Drifting Dragons last year, we are delighted to announce our 2017 street opera production of Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte. It’s a story about love and friendship, cheating, and testing the one you love. Both funny and moving, we’re sure you’ll love following our characters rather complicated love lives taking place on the streets of Merton!

Drifting Dragons (2016)

Our performances will be completely free and unticketed in a variety of places in Merton town centres high – popping up in cafes, pubs, supermarkets, libraries and perhaps at the bus stop! We hope you’ll follow our story and hear the beautiful music as you’re going about your normal life. Perhaps you can do the weekly shop and see some opera at the same time?!

We’re again partnering with Merton Music Foundation to offer local schools complimentary workshops teaching young people about opera, and with organisations such as the New Horizon Centre and Merton & Morden Guild to engage local elderly people with this fantastic story of love, confusion and betrayal. We’ll keep you updated with what we get up to as we go along. Read more