Our School Parallel Production Workshop Leaders!

We are super excited to introduce our talented music and drama workshop leaders who will be working with the young people’s groups in our Die Fledermaus parallel productions at Cranmer Primary School and St John Bosco College….

 

Elliot Aynthony Ajai-Ajagbe Dale

Elliott Anthony Ajai-Ajagbe Daley – Drama Practitioner

Elliott Anthony Ajai-Ajagbe Daley has worked with the Lyric Theatre for 10 years where he has run a variety of the flagship drama based youth inclusion programs such as START and REWIND and is currently lead practitioner for the youth drama program, ‘Acting Up’. He also runs freelance drama and spoken word workshops in schools for them and other theatres such as the BAC, Harts and Bush Theatre.

Elliott aka WordPlay is a storyteller through and through, skilled in both spoken and written word. As a spoken word artist he’s performed on some amazing stages and at some prestigious events including The Manorlogz Vox Africa, TedXYouth and the London 2012 Games. His written work has seen him teach across the world from London theatres to Portugal, Ghana and more. Having never grown out of his love of stories, he has made them his life, from poetry and plays to running with the bulls, surfing and jumping out of planes!… Now he’s turned that passion and inspiration into his first graphic novel Winter Solstice, out this Christmas

 

Natalie Burch

Natalie Burch – Musical Director

Natalie Burch specialises in vocal accompaniment and is widely in demand as a song pianist across London and the UK. She won the accompaniment prize at the 2015 Maureen Lehane Awards at Wigmore Hall, was a finalist alongside 2nd Prize winner James Way at the 2017 Kathleen Ferrier Awards and is a 2018 Britten-Pears, Leeds Lieder and Samling Young Artist.

Natalie co-directs a multi-voice song ensemble, SongSpiel, with whom she is touring Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s The Thought Machine through 2018/2019 in an Arts Council funded project with Ensemble Perpetuo. With the group, she is also in the midst of a project performing and recording William Marsey’s Austerity Songs which was commissioned by SongSpiel in 2017.

Performance highlights include Brahms’ Liebeslieder Walzer and Stephen Hough’s Other Love Songs at Wigmore Hall, a new commission by Daniel Kidane for St. John’s Smith Square, recitals with James Way and Francesca Chiejina at Leith Hill Place and 22 Mansfield St. and performances of Schumann’s Mignon Lieder and Frauenliebe und-Leben at St. James’ Piccadilly.

Natalie is a staff pianist at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama where she was a fellow and gained her Masters with distinction under Eugene Asti and Andrew West. She studied at Chetham’s School of Music and in 2014 graduated with first class honors in musicology from King’s College London with piano at the Royal Academy of Music.

She is very grateful to her sponsors at the Leverhulme Trust, Help Musicians UK and the Guildhall Trust.

 

Elen Jones

Elen Jones – Drama Practitioner

Elen is a freelance Youth Drama Director and Educator who has extensive experience working with young people, directing a number of school productions and teaching key drama skills, most recently as the head of Drama at ACS International School. In addition, she has worked alongside a number of companies including the National Theatre’s New Views project, Shakespeare School’s productions and the International Schools Theatre Association. 

Currently, Elen is working as a Youth Theatre Director for Lewisham Youth Theatre and as a Storyteller for the Dulwich Picture Gallery devising drama with young people from the Baytree Project. She is also currently setting up after school drama clubs in collaboration with Montage Theatre Arts and The Albany Theatre to make Performing Arts more accessible to young people in her local area. 

Creatively, she is inspired by the work of theatre companies such as Peeping Tom with their focus on hyper-realisation as well as the likes of Frantic Assembly, Theatre Complicité and Cheek by Jowl, whose work demonstrates the beauty of combining historic theatre making with contemporary innovations, stretching the boundaries and reaching new levels. She is equally interested in verbatim theatre and exploring contemporary means of storytelling, through looking at the political as local.

 

James Cleeve

James Cleeve – Musical Director & Animateur

James is a freelance Musical Director and Animateur, working primarily in theatre and music education.

Recent projects include working as Music Director for the New Zealand Young Shakespeare Company at the Globe, running community singing workshops at the Young Vic, and conducting the world premiere of a song cycle for 200 children young people with HMDT.

For a number of years James conducted the annual Lambeth Singing Festival concerts for 900 children at the Festival Hall. He regularly works with The Southbank Centre, Spitalfields Music Trust and Saffron Hall, and in the past has run workshops with companies including English National Opera, English Touring Opera and Surrey Arts.

Outside of music education, recent theatrical projects have included: MD’ing the European premiere of Yank! The Musical in Manchester and its transfer into the Charing Cross Theatre London, and National Tours of The Sound of Music (Assistant MD), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (keys), and Top Hat (keys/accordion).

 

Abigail Kelly

Abigail Kelly – Opera Singer

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).

 

Juliane Gallant

Juliane Gallant – Musical Director

Canadian pianist and conductor Juliane Gallant holds a Masters of Performance in Piano Accompaniment from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Juliane has previously worked with Opera on Location (Don Giovanni, Carmen), St Paul’s Opera (Cosi fan tutte, Orphée aux enfers), Opera MIO (A Fantastic Bohemian: The Tales of Hoffmann revisited), Magnetic Opera (The Medium), Clapham Opera Festival (La Bohème), Rossini Young Artists (Il barbiere di Siviglia), and Opera Upclose (Carmen, Ulla’s Odyssey). She also regularly performs with Opera Holland Park’s award-winning outreach programme Inspire. Juliane has appeared at Wigmore Hall, the Barbican and on West End stages.

 

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. 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

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

Cosi Fan Tutte Pop-Up Performance!

Two girls catch the eye of two good looking guys across a crowded room at a party and fuelled by a couple of glasses of wine and having checked their make-up decide to go over and chat to them. A scene that happens all the time across many a crowded room. Except that this time our two girls were Fiordiligi and Dorabella singing a duet from Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte from Baseless Fabric’s new adaptation with arrangement by Leo Geyer and libretto by Joanna Turner.

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Do you think opera is for you?

Feedback from Bishop Gilpin School Opera workshop

Here at Baseless Fabric we are pretty passionate about giving everybody a chance to experience theatre and opera. Opera in particular is frequently seen as an art form that isn’t for ‘everyone’ and we truly believe it is and that everyone should have the chance to experience it. Luckily we have several wonderful funders who agree with this idea, including the brilliant Wimbledon Foundation who support charities in our home borough of Merton.

We were lucky enough to attend the exciting Wimbledon Championships this year and Artistic Director Joanna Turner was interviewed about the work that Baseless Fabric are doing to bring opera to new audiences and the opera workshops for young people and the elderly that Wimbledon Foundation have so kindly supported. Read more

“I’d date Guglielmo if he was filled with marshmallows…”

Wow, running opera workshops for young people can be such fun – and so rewarding! We’ve just run a series of workshops at Merton primary, secondary schools and the fantastic Jigsaw4u as part of our Cosi Fan Tutte Street Opera project, funded by Wimbledon Foundation and it’s really been fantastic. Many of these children would not otherwise have an opportunity to access this art form, and some may not have previously known what opera was, but after a session with us they were confidently singing a Mozart love duet and giving us their best confident cocky Guglielmos and flirty coy Dorabellas!

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