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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!

Cosi Fan Tutte (2017) at Gorringe Park Pub Tooting

2019 certainly has been our most crazily ambitious year yet. Who stages 4 productions at once?! We do apparently! With our Die Fledermaus professional production for the high street, adaptation for the Grimeborn Opera Festival at the Arcola Theatre plus our parallel productions with St John Bosco College and Cranmer Primary School in association with Jigsaw4u all happening at the same time, end of July was a bit busy to say the least with several rehearsal rooms running at once! Plus of course being a working mum is never easy, but Artistic Director Jo had a particularly interesting time when OperaBaby chose that exact time to get a bad chest infection and they spent several nights in hospital! Babies have such an amazing sense of timing!

Die Fledermaus Arcola Theatre

Die Fledermaus (2019)

But OperaBaby quickly got better and the shows were a great success! We had 4 star reviews in The Guardian and The Stage for the first time, fantastic audience feedback for both the sell-out shows at the Arcola and for our 12 street performances. This year we performed in a variety of locations across both our home borough of Merton and neighbouring Wandsworth taking us, for the first time, to Roehampton, Tooting, Wandsworth Town and Battersea. Audience comments included:

‘Amazing! Never been to an opera before! So good! Will try to go see one soon. Such loud clear voices. Brilliant work! Thank you!’

Baseless Fabric Theatre workshop with Cranmer primary school parallel production

Meanwhile, our wonderful groups at St John Bosco and Cranmer Primary performed the most imaginative spin-off productions of Die Fledermaus thrilling their workshop leaders, parents and the professional opera singers with their performances. Who knew that Eisenstein had an evil brother Osenstein? Or that the Eastenders theme tune would meld so perfectly with Strauss? We were super proud of both groups and all that they achieved over the 7 month project with their fantastic workshop leaders Elliott, Natalie, Elen and James – thank you all for your hard work!

And though, yes, Die Fledermaus with all its different elements took up most of our time and energy in 2019, we also found time over the Easter holidays to have fun with 70 brilliant young people in Mitcham Library discovering the skills of beatboxing, stage combat, puppetry and theatre design!

Beatboxing Workshop at Mitcham Library

We’ve had the busiest year to end our first 5 and are now busy planning what happens in the next 5. If you’d like to get involved in some way please drop us a message, we’d love to hear from you. Or if you’d like to help ensure our work is able to continue, why not consider becoming a Friend, whilst getting further insights into how our work is created? We have rather a lot of money to raise, contacts to make and plans to develop to make the next 5 years happen so if you’d like to be involved in the next stage of our future we’d love to hear from you!

Elderly session at Merton and Morden Guild

Yet we couldn’t have made the first 5 happen without you so thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all that you’ve enabled us to achieve so far –

Joanna, Mark, Francis, Rachel, Arnold and Sophie
(though in 2019 5 actually became 6!)

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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

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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.

Read more

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2017 A year in review

St Teresa’s Primary School opera workshop

It’s the start of a new year so it’s that time of year that gets you thinking about what you’ve achieved over the last year. We had a big year in 2017 with two massively successful productions – Cosi Fan Tutte and Reunion & Dark Pony – both of which included professional performances, workshops for young people, and for Cosi also sessions for the elderly, not to mention re-writing the music and libretto for the high street! We loved working with so many shops, cafes, supermarkets and libraries for performances, especially being part of National Libraries Week for our Reunion & Dark Pony production. Our Cosi Fan Tutte further embedded our work in our home borough of Merton, while Reunion & Dark Pony took us further across South London to Southwark, Lambeth and Wandsworth as well as our first performances in the new Merton Arts Space in Wimbledon Library.  Read more

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Transforming sleek city bankers to grungey surfers…

Wig used in the show – pre-transformation

-So, this is for you? 

The man in the wig shop was gesturing for me to try on the brunette wig he was holding in his hands.

-Oh no, it’s actually for a man, the director Joanna pitched in.

-For a man? Is he dressing up as a lady? Said the bemused wig vendor.

Joanna smiled and explained that she is putting on a new adaptation of Cosi Fan Tutte and in this version, our two suitors, Ferrando and Guglielmo –are city bankers dressing up as grungey surfers to seduce their unsuspecting girlfriends to win a bet. The wigs are a part of the costume our bankers don to deceive their supposedly faithful girlfriends. Of course, our bankers are betting that they will fail and their girlfriends will remain as faithful as they believe them to be, but who can resist a rough but charming surfer? Especially with that hair! Read more

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5 Star Review & OffWestEnd Award Nomination

We have been overwhelmed and delighted by everyone’s super positive responses to our Cosi Fan Tutte Street Opera!

Firstly, we are so excited to have been nominated for the Offies Best Opera Production award by OffWestEnd.com after one of their assessors saw our Morden performance. The nominations continue over the year with the 2017 winners announced early 2018 – so keep your fingers crossed and watch this space!!

And we couldn’t be more thrilled by our 5 and 4 star reviews from Operissima and LondonTheatre1 respectively. You can read the full reviews at the links below or check out the Cosi Fan Tutte page for some of the quotations we’ve picked out. Read more

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Chatting to Wandsworth Radio about Street Opera

Last Saturday Artistic Director Joanna Turner headed to Wandsworth Radio to talk about our Cosi Fan Tutte Production. To listen to the broadcast just click the play button above. She also talks a little about our next production by David Mamet as part of National Libraries Week, Reunion & Dark Pony.

We still have a few remaining Cosi Fan Tutte performances in Mitcham, Wimbledon Village and Wimbledon Town Centre. Check out the Cosi Fan Tutte production page for details.

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Cosi Fan Tutte performances in full swing!

Raynes Park Tavern, Raynes Park

Our Cosi Fan Tutte performances are now well underway and we’re getting fantastic reactions both from audiences who’ve come along especially to see us and people who we’ve surprised while they’ve been doing the shopping or having a pint in the pub! So far we’ve had scenes popping up in Tooting, Pollards Hill, Raynes Park and Colliers Wood.

Tooting High Street

Who’d have thought you’d hear the Cosi opening trio of the boys making the bet to test their girlfriends whilst playing pool in the Raynes Park Tavern, or the girls deciding which disguised boy to flirt with in the jewellery section in Colliers Wood M&S? I think my personal favourite though was the boys singing their conversation about whether their girlfriends have cheated whilst coming down the escalator in the Qube shopping centre!

The hugest thanks to all the amazing businesses who’ve given us permission for performing in their stores – we really appreciate your help in bringing opera to everyone in Merton!  Read more

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Excited about singing in the supermarket? We ask our Cosi cast….

Cosi Fan Tutte Rehearsal

James, our Stage Manager, interviewed our singers and instrumentalists of the Cosi Fan Tutte Street opera in rehearsals this week…

What is your favourite opera or composer?

Tom Stoddart (Guglielmo):  “Favourite composer, Mahler, who never wrote any operas or Tchaikovsky. And my favourite opera is Eugene Onegin by Tchaikovsky.”

Simon Gfeller (Ferrando): “Favourite composer I think Mozart. But it’s generally the opera I’m doing at the moment as I fall in love really quickly with what I’m doing.”

Philip Smith (Don Alfonso): “La Bohème by Puccini would be my favourite opera quickly followed by quite a lot of Britten”

Claire Wild (Fiordiligi): “One of my favourite operas is Don Giovanni actually, Mozart. But I love La Bohème as well.” Read more