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Announcing the Cast of Carmen!

We are delighted to announce the cast of Carmen:

Felicity Buckland – Carmen (Arcola Theatre)

Felicity Buckland

Felicity trained at the RNCM and on English National Opera’s Opera Works programme.

Recent solo appearances include Kasturbai, Glass Satyagraha for ENO, Wellgunde Wagner The Rhinegold for Birmingham Opera and Nicklausse, Offenbach The Tales of Hoffmann for Kentish Opera. Previous ENO highlights include cover roles in The Valkyrie, The Mask of Orpheus (Birtwistle), Orpheus in the Underworld, Carmen, and Olivier-Award winning Porgy and Bess. Elsewhere she has sung the title roles in Carmen (Kentish Opera) and La Cenerentola (High Time Opera); Rosina The Barber of Seville (Opera South) Rossweisse Die Walküre (Grange Park Opera); Olga Eugene Onegin (Opera Up Close, Opera South East, Mid Wales Opera (cover)); Dorabella Così Fan Tutte (Baseless Fabric Theatre); Cherubino The Marriage of Figaro, and 3rd Lady The Magic Flute (both Opera Up Close). She is a regular extra chorister for The Royal Opera House, ENO and Opera North.

Felicity is in demand for solo oratorio, music education projects and consort/session work, and is delighted to be a regular part of Baseless Fabric’s Learning and Participation Projects.

Jonathan Cooke – Don Jose

Jonathan Cooke

Born and raised in Cheshire, versatile tenor Jonathan Cooke enjoys a varied singing career both in England and abroad. He studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and has worked with some of the country’s biggest opera companies including Garsington, Scottish Opera, Grange Park Opera, Longborough Festival Opera and West Green House Opera.

Jonathan’s operatic rôles include divers characters such as Ruggero La Rondine (RCS), Le Mari Les Mamelles de Tiresias (RCS), Eisenstein die Fledermaus (Fulham Opera, Baseless Fabric), Squeak Billy Budd (St Endellion Summer Music Festival), Turridu, Cavalleria Rusticana (Hampstead Garden Opera, North Wales Opera Studio) Cavaradossi Tosca (Bridgetower Ensemble Opera, North Wales Opera Studio) and Lensky Eugene Onegin (Opera South East).

Outside of opera, and amongst other things, Jonathan is privileged to sing for Songhaven, a dementia-friendly concert series.

Pre-lockdown in 2020, Jonathan sang the rôle of Pinkerton in Opera Up Close’s tour of Madam Butterfly. During the pandemic, with performing opportunities sparse, he still managed to perform in socially-distanced performances of Tristan und Isolde, Tosca, and Carmen. Most recently, Jonathan returned to Kentish Opera to sing the title rôle in The Tales of Hoffmann.

Susannah Horowitz – Carmen (Street Performances)

Susannah Horowitz

Mezzo-Soprano Susannah Horowitz is a Masters graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, coached by Catherine Wyn-Rogers and James Baillieu. She is a graduate scholar BMus (Hons) of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

This season, Susannah will make her debut with the Glyndebourne Festival Chorus for their Summer 2022 season. She has been a Young Artist with Nevill Holt Opera since 2017, including Chorus for Puccini’s Tosca (directed by Oliver Mears), cover Marcellina in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (directed by Joe Austin), gala and concert performances, and documentary filming for the RIBA Stirling Prize 2019.

Susannah has performed in opera scenes including Flight (Dove) – Stewardess. Hänsel und Gretel (Humperdinck) – Hänsel. Die Zauberflöte (Mozart) – Dritte Dame. Carmen (Bizet) – Mercédès. Giulio Cesare (Handel) – Sesto, in addition to working in depth on the character of Dorabella (Così fan tutte, Mozart) with British Youth Opera. During her time at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Susannah performed in two opera productions, La Rondine (Puccini) and Sir John in Love (Vaughan Williams) directed by Benjamin Davis.

Alongside opera, Susannah is an experienced choral and session singer, working with organisations including London Voices and Warner Bros Games on film, television, and game soundtracks.

A full biography can be found at susannahhorowitz.com

Nicholas Morris – Escamillo

Nicholas Morris

Nicholas trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland). This summer he will appear in A Kind Man by Jonathan Finney and perform in Kussen’s Where the wild things are with Shadwell Opera in Bamberg. Recently he has appeared for Theatre Magdeburg as Monterone in Rigoletto and in the world premiere of King Kong by Jeffrey Ching, sung the Mayor in the community opera Bloom Britannia by Orlando Gough, recorded Margaret Catchpole by Stephen Dodgson for Naxos, taken the title role in the world premiere of To see the Invisible by Emily Howard at Snape Maltings, played Garibaldo in Rodelinda, and sung Marcello in La Boheme. In previous seasons he has made his debut in Croatia as Smirnov, The Bear, performed in the Portuguese and British premiers of the contemporary work Hummus by Zad Moultaka and appeared as Maxwell Davies’ Mad King and as the Officer in Glass’ In the penal Colony with Shadwell Opera.

Before training as an opera singer, Nicholas studied at Jesus College, Cambridge, where, when not singing or playing rugby, he read history and philosophy of science. During his time at Cambridge he was a member of King’s College Choir. He began his singing career as a chorister at Peterborough Cathedral.

For more information please visit www.ndmorris.co.uk

Claire Wild – Micaela

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).

 

Leo Geyer – Arranger/MD and Bassoon

Leo Geyer

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.

Ilona Suomalainen – Accordion

Ilona Suomalainen

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.

Louisa Till – Violin

Louisa Till

Louisa is an active violinist and teacher based in London. She studied at the Royal Northern College of Music with Cecily Ward, James Clark and Pavel Fischer, gaining both BMus and MMus degrees.

At the RNCM, Louisa participated in projects with the BBC Philharmonic, Manchester Camerata and Chamber Orchestra of Europe, as well as touring internationally. Since moving to London, Louisa has particularly enjoyed her musical theatre work, performing in venues such as the London Palladium.

Louisa is delighted to be joining Baseless Fabric Theatre for their reimagined Carmen production.

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From German arias to the Amazon Rainforest!

Following the success of September 2020 and May 2021, we returned last week for a third tour of care homes to bring some musical joy to residents and staff across Merton and Wandsworth. It was a glorious, sunny week with only one wet morning – a miracle considering the unpredictability of the British weather! Not that the rain stopped us! Concert wellies were adorned and our incredible performers Claire Wild and Carla Ruaro didn’t bat an eyelid, performing their 7th well received concert of the week under a canopy during the showers.

The repertoire, put together by Claire and Carla, took us around the world from British folk songs, to German arias, to music from the Amazon Rainforest! It was a perfect balance of famous favourites and introductions to something new.

“Everyone is so lovely and professional. The music is superb. Loved it all. The residents wanted them to come back next week!”

“A great big thank you to you all for the preparation and performance today. It really was something special. Thank you so very much and if at all possible we would love to be a host again next year. Very happy and uplifted. Very much enjoyed the whole concert”

It was wonderful to be invited back again to the care homes we have built relationships with over the last two years, as well as to have been able to make connections with two new homes this time around. We cannot thank the staff enough for their enthusiasm and kindness during our visits, and it was an absolute delight to watch residents light up, dance and even sing along during the concerts. And excitingly, again 100% of residents and staff felt that their mental wellbeing improved from our concert and 94% want us back!

A big thank you to the Postcode Lottery for funding this week and supporting us in bringing these concerts to care homes.

 

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Gearing Up for Carehome Concerts

We are just one week away from our carehome concerts. Thanks to the support of the Postcode Community Trust, Soprano Claire Wild and Pianist Carla Ruaro and a small team will be bringing an hour of opera and musical joy to the gardens and carparks of 8 carehomes across Wandsworth and Merton.

 

Claire Wild

CLAIRE WILD – SOPRANO

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).

 

Carla Ruaro

CARLA RUARO  – PIANIST

Carla is a pianist, researcher and educator dedicated to contemporary music. Carla holds a Master’s Degree in Music Performance & Related Studies – Goldsmiths University of London. She was executive director of the social organization Amazonart UK, where she developed social, cultural and educational projects in England and Brazil. Between 2006 and 2012 Carla worked for the British scheme Live Music Now in London, a cultural institution founded by Yehudi Menuhin where she gave workshops and concerts of Brazilian music throughout England, Ireland and the Arab Emirates. In 2012, she won the Funarte Prize with the project “Multiplying Brazilian Music in the Amazon”, where she began the plans to bring the piano to the riverside communities of the Amazon. In 2017 she carried out her first project, a film documentary and a CD called “A Piano in the Amazon” winner of several awards at film festivals in USA, Brazil, Finland and Morocco.

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Opera Club is underway at Links Primary

Since the start of term the hallways have been ringing with the Habanera at Links Primary School as our latest community project gets underway.

Each week a group of children attend an After School Opera Club run by Baseless Fabric and in partnership with Jigsaw4U. Our fantastic facilitators Bimpe Adeyemi and Ruth Routledge are working with the children to teach them about Bizet’s Carmen, and support them in creating and writing their own show inspired by the opera.

Ruth Routledge

Bimpe Adeyemi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The children will work with Bimpe and Ruth over the next two terms singing, acting, writing and devising together. Their work will culminate in a performance in July for family, friends, teachers and for the team of performers and creatives working on Baseless Fabric’s professional production of Carmen. 

In turn the opera club will take a trip to watch our professional Carmen production and see Baseless Fabric in action popping up on the high street.

We are looking forward to seeing how the children grow and learn over the course of this 7-month project and can’t wait for the performance of their Carmen-inspired creation in July.

A massive thank you to the Wimbledon Foundation and Three Monkies Trust for supporting this project.

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Cast Announced for our Carmen R&D!

Tomorrow marks the start of our research and development workshop for our latest re-imagining, Carmen. This follows on from our acclaimed Die Fledermaus (4 stars The Guardian & The Stage) and Cosi Fan Tutte (Best Opera Production Finalist, OffWestEnd Awards). Over the course of 3 days we will be exploring our version of the piece, with a new modern English libretto by Joanna Turner, and score for violin, accordion and bassoon arranged by Leo Geyer.

Our work will culminate in a free sharing at 4.30pm at Lantern Arts Centre. If you’d like to attend you can sign up for tickets here.

We will be joined by a wonderful cast:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joining the team will be Accordionist, Ilona Suomalainen and Violinist, Henry Rankin as well as a Designer, Marina Hadjilouca and Fight Director, Natalia Bogdanova. Taking the helm as Director will be Baseless Fabric’s own Joanna Turner with Leo Geyer as Musical Director. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We can’t wait to get to work and watch our re-imagining come to life in the hands of this incredible team!

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Skill Sharing Workshop for Facilitators – Work with us in 2022!

We are delighted to be partnering with Southwark Playhouse to offer a free opera skills sharing workshop from 1pm to 4pm on Friday 8th October 2021.

We are looking to meet facilitators who are interested in learning about opera and how their skills may be transferable to working in opera in future, and for us to meet talented facilitators to work with Baseless Fabric on our 2022 projects which will range from one-off sessions to long term programmes.

We recognise that opera is traditionally a white middle class artform and the lack of diversity in the arts is one of the sector’s most important issues. We strongly believe not only that opera is for everyone but that our casts and workshop leading teams should be representative of the South London areas in which we perform and where we provide young people with our opera workshops. As such, we strongly encourage theatre facilitators of colour to apply.

Practitioners will not need any prior experience in or knowledge of opera to attend. We actively encourage practitioners of all levels to register.

Places are limited so please sign up for a place by filling in this short form: Workshop Sign Up

If you have any questions or would like more information please contact our Community Engagement Producer: [email protected]

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Introducing Opera to Merton and Wandsworth Schools

Across 2 weeks in July, 14 workshops were delivered to 8 primary and secondary schools in Wandsworth & Merton. Sports halls were filled with the sounds of the Toreador Song and the moves from the latest TikTok trends as the children were introduced to Baseless Fabric’s adaptation of Bizet’s Carmen by our wonderful team of facilitators Rachel Maby, Juliane Gallant and Elliott Daley.

Feedback from the students has been wonderful. 99% of students said that they liked the workshop with 81% of those saying they loved it. 85% of students said that after the workshop they would now definitely attend or consider attending an opera. When asked what they had learnt during the session answers ranged from as specific as “the position of the larynx when singing” to simply “that I like opera!” and “that opera can be fun!”

Possibly one of the most rewarding parts of these workshops is that our facilitators see the impact the experience can have on the students, and even see growth in the confidence and interest of individual children over the course of the session. For example, student ‘P’ started his session with his back to the facilitators. During the course of the workshop he became more interested, especially when Juliane compared music to his favourite subject, maths. By the end ‘P’ was fully involved, excited and he wanted to answer ALL the questions! Read more

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Opera Taster Workshops Are Underway

This week marked the start of our Carmen Opera Taster Workshops to 8 primary and secondary schools in Wandsworth & Merton. The workshops were organised with the help of the lovely teams as Merton Music Foundation and Wandsworth Music and will be delivered over the next 2 weeks by our brilliant team of facilitators – Rachel Maby, Juliane Gallant, Elliott Daley and Elizabeth Humphries.

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Care Home Concerts Return!

Claire & Elspeth

Following the success of our concerts in September 2020, our covid-safe Care Home Concerts are returning this May! Thanks to the generosity of Wimbledon Foundation and Merton Giving, we will be performing for residents and staff from the gardens and carparks of care homes across Wandsworth and Merton.

We are thrilled that Soprano Claire Wild and Pianist Elspeth Wilkes will be returning to deliver these concerts with us. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram where we’ll be posting throughout the project.

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