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Carehomes Carpark Die Fledermaus!

Die Fledermaus Arcola Theatre

David Horton as Eisenstein & James McOran-Campbell as Falke

Despite the grey January days this particularly bleak January we have something very exciting to look forward to this summer! With the hugest thanks to the Postcode Community Trust, we are thrilled that later this year when the weather warms up, Covid restrictions are lifted a little and hopefully many carehome residents will have received their vaccine, we are able to offer South West London carehomes a FULL PERFORMANCE of our acclaimed re-imagined Die Fledermaus (4 stars – The Guardian)!

As with our recent carehome concerts, these performances will again take place in the carpark or garden of the care homes to keep residents, staff and artists safe in these changing challenging times. And we are thrilled that this time rather than just concerts we can offer a full performance of Die Fledermaus giving residents and staff an opportunity to enjoy the full story of Strauss’ operetta.

Die Fledermaus (‘The Bat’ or Bat Man in our version!) is a hugely fun, often silly story with some brilliant characters and very catchy tunes. Our new production is reimagined for London life today, cut to approximately an hour, and with a new modern English libretto by Baseless Fabric Artistic Director Joanna Turner, and with the music re-written for violin, accordion and bassoon by Leo Geyer.

We also hope to be able to offer general public performances of Die Fledermaus this summer depending on Covid restrictions so make sure you join our newsletter to be first to hear.

Meanwhile, we’re dusting off the Batman costume and can’t wait to bring a smile to the faces of carehome residents and staff in Merton & Wandsworth this summer.

Whisked the frothy original into a nimble 50- minute snapshot of modern life- , The Guardian
It’s great fun, and Turner’s updating gives a ring of truth to the potentially farcical story.- , The Stage

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Announcing our new adaptation!

We are thrilled to announce that we are re-imagining another classic opera for London life today in our unique street opera style! This time we are taking on one of the big tragic operas with perhaps the most widely recognised operatic music – Carmen by Georges Bizet!

We are so excited to take on this challenge and hugely grateful to our funders: Arts Council, Wimbledon Foundation, Samuel Gardner Memorial Trust, Humphrey Richardson Taylor Charitable Trust, Merton Council, Wandsworth Council and Three Monkies Trust. Thanks to their support we’ll be working on the creative adaptation and offering projects for local young people in 2021. We will also be fundraising further to make the final performances and further activity for young people and the elderly happen in 2022. As ever, if you feel able to support our work we’d be incredibly grateful.

Stay tuned as we bring Carmen to South London!

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Covid Safe Care home concerts

During late September/early October 2020 we headed to seven different care homes across Wandsworth and Merton to provide a concert to their residents and staff to try and bring some musical joy and lift spirits during these difficult times of Covid 19. Kindly funded by Wimbledon Foundation, Merton Giving and Sylvia Waddilove Foundation we performed outside in the car parks and gardens of care homes so that residents and staff could safely enjoy our socially distanced performance. Check out our video for a peek at what we got up to!

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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.
 

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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:

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