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Ready to perform in the carpark!

This week we are kicking off our opera care homes project! Soprano Claire Wild and Pianist Elspeth Wilkes with a small team are visiting a number of different care homes in Merton & Wandsworth. We’re going to be Covid-19 safe with our team working in car parks and gardens at the care homes and have handgel, masks and thermometers at the ready!

 

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).

 

 

Elspeth Wilkes – Pianist

Born in Leigh-on-sea, Essex, Elspeth studied at King’s College, London, Trinity College of Music and Royal Academy of Music. She has performed at venues including St John’s Smith Square; Linbury Studio, Royal Opera House; St Martin-in-the-Fields; Kings Place; Trafalgar Studios; Savoy Theatre, West End as well as performing recitals in Greece, Spain, Portugal, France and South Africa. Elspeth has performed at the Ravenna music festival, Italy, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Dublin Gay Theatre Festival where she won the ‘Oscar’ award.

Elspeth has worked with BBC Wales, Royal Ballet, Royal Shakespeare Company and Southbank Sinfonia and has performed for HRH The Princess Royal. She also performs regularly for the charities Lost Chord Foundation and Music in Hospitals working with people suffering from dementia.

Elspeth has worked as a repetiteur/musical director with many opera companies including Opera up Close (winning an Olivier award for La Boheme), Opera Brava, Merry Opera, Northern Ireland Opera, Kings Head Opera and Opera de Bauge.

Elspeth is the conductor of Thurrock Choral Society and assistant conductor of Barnes Choir and is a member of the Bridgetower Ensemble.

 

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Care home Carpark Opera!

Thanks to the generosity of Merton Giving and Wimbledon Foundation we are thrilled to be offering Merton & Wandsworth care homes an opera performance session in their garden or car park this autumn. Based on the successful format we have previously provided to older people’s lunch clubs at community organisations including Age UK, Commonside Trust and Wimbledon Guild we wanted to offer a musical session to help improve older people’s mental well-being during this difficult time. A professional opera singer and pianist will perform several songs and talk about their freelance careers and the work of Baseless Fabric in the garden or car park socially distanced from residents and staff.

If you know a local care home that would be interested and whose restrictions will allow for outdoor visitors this Sept please get in touch!

Meanwhile, we are also intending to offer care homes a full performance of our acclaimed modern English Die Fledermaus next year so that residents and staff can experience the joy of a full operatic story (and a very funny one with hilarious characters and super catchy tunes)! We currently have a fundraising target of £9k to give 6 care homes this opportunity (as well as providing work for 12 freelance professional artists who have all seen their income disappear during this crisis). We have various funding applications into trusts and foundations but if you are able to donate towards this joyful experience for local elderly please donate here!

Click to Support this Care Home Project!

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Opera By Design: Marina Hadjilouca

Last summer we worked with the brilliant designer Marina Hadjilouca on Die Fledermaus. We caught up with her to see what she’s been up to since…

 

What have you been working on since Die Fledermaus?

Abelard and Heloise
Photo: Christos Avramides

I designed the sets and costumes for ‘Abelard and Heloise’. The play premiered in Cyprus on the 14th of February 2020. It a contemporary play, 

written by Yiannis Kalavrianos, and is based on the true story of Abelard and Heloise, two lovers from the French Medieval times. The text speaks about forbidden love, taboo topics, the musts of society. 
 

When you’re part of a new production, where do you start?

Abelard and Heloise
Photo: Christos Avramides

One of the first things I do when I’m brought onto a new production, after I have read the text (or in this case, the score and libretto, and listened to the opera) I have a conversation with the director. We talk about the story and their vision, and I share my first responses with some general inspiration images. We look at things that may have triggered my imagination.

 
The next step is to really go into the plot, discuss it scene-by-scene and look at some tangible ideas through sketches and in a model box. The same thing happens with the costumes, we talk about the characters and analyse their story. We look at images that may have inspired me. This can be from paintings, sculptures all the way to fashion editorials.
 

Read more

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It’s our 5th Birthday!

We’re 5 years old! On 22nd December 2014 we nervously registered Baseless Fabric as an official company and set up a meeting with a business bank account manager. It was all a bit scarily official. So how do we do this then?! Run a company, make work in public spaces, engage with our local community…

It’s been a quite mental 5 years and we have learned such a lot both creatively and practically in working out how to make it all happen. We couldn’t have done it without your support.

A First Class Death (2015)

A First Class Death at VAULT Festival, A Secret Life with Theatre 503, Reunion & Dark Pony in South London libraries, street operas Drifting Dragons, Cosi Fan Tutte and Die Fledermaus, Mitcham Library drama workshops, countless Opera Taster Workshops for local schools & sessions with elderly groups, and recently also 2 parallel productions for schools offering young people a chance to engage, explore and be imaginative with opera over a 7 month project. Not to mention becoming a charity 4 years ago! Read more

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Theatre, music and maths!

We are super excited to have Sophie Hamlet joining our Board of Trustees! Not only is she a brilliant accountant but she’s super passionate about theatre, opera and music and reaching new audiences. So we asked her a few questions so you could get to know her: Read more

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“Had never been to the opera and now would love to go!”

Louisa & Giles at the Autumn Rose Club

Louisa & Giles at the Autumn Rose Club

It’s a sad time but we’ve come to the end of our amazing Die Fledermaus project over the past 18 months. We’re looking back on everything that we’ve achieved and all the brilliant people we’ve met, especially the fantastic young people in our Opera Taster Workshops and Parallel Productions and the wonderful older people in our sessions for elderly groups. We’ve had such fun in all the different activities of the project and are so proud of what everyone’s achieved. Read more

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From Morden to the Mariinsky Concert Hall

One of the special new additions to this year’s performances was our brass band, who led the audiences between each performance location. We were lucky to be joined by three wonderful young musicians Siân Collins, Ben Day and Derryck Nasib.

We’re particularly keen to support local young musicians so were excited to have Derryck join the team, who’s actually from Morden. He only needed to roll out of bed 10mins before the call time before our Morden performance! So we thought we’d catch up with him about what it has been like performing with Baseless Fabric this summer:

Read more

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Love musicals? Hate opera? Think again!

We asked Francis, originally a musicals fan, to tell us why we converted him to opera.

I am a musical theatre geek. I’m a self-confessed Renthead and up until a few years ago I hated opera…. But I didn’t realise I was watching the wrong opera productions. Here are 5 reasons why I think, if you love musicals, you should try Baseless Fabric’s free Die Fledermaus:

It’s in modern English and you can hear the words

I thought opera was always in another language or if it was in English you couldn’t really hear the words clearly, sometimes you have to be looking and reading the text from a screen?! – but that doesn’t have to be the case. In the Baseless Fabric’s opera productions the words are clear and you can easily follow the story of what’s going on. In fact Die Fledermaus actually has both spoken scenes and songs so it’s even more like a musical. Read more

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#TeamDieFledermaus

So that you can get to know #TeamDieFledermaus we thought we’d ask our brilliant singers a few questions about their characters:

 

What would your character have in their supermarket shopping trolley?

Falke: Vodka and crisps

Rosalinde: Nappies, formula, Pinot Grigio

Eisenstein: Stella and nappies

Adele: Smashed avocado, honey flavoured lockets, sugar free red bull Read more

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Why Audiences Love Street Opera

Our favourite thing about our street opera performances is seeing how audiences respond. We love that the unique Baseless Fabric style – where operas pop up unexpectedly on the high street, and move from location to location – excites audiences. It’s so thrilling to clearly see people enjoying the performance which you wouldn’t be able to see from the stage of a big opera house.

And when we announced our Die Fledermaus locations, we were delighted to find people reminiscing about our performances of Cosi Fan Tutte in 2017 & 2018. For example:

https://twitter.com/carolinefrmus/status/1148664968482557953

And: Read more