Die Fledermaus first road trip!

So after the excitement of our young people’s workshops and our two school parallel productions for Die Fledermaus getting underway, we’re now pleased to tell you about our sessions for local elderly groups across Merton and Wandsworth!

Because our unique street opera concept means that audience members need to be able to stand for most of the performances and walk around to follow the story of our characters around the high street, it means it’s not suitable for those less physically able. So this means that we also go into local elderly organisations and run sessions for them so that they can also engage with our work.

We’re thrilled that shortly we’ll be running sessions at old friends including Merton & Morden Guild and Friends in St Helier, who we previously worked with for Drifting Dragons and A Secret Life as well as going to new organisations including the Alzheimer’s Society.

Our brilliant singers Claire Wild, Abigail Kelly and David Horton will sing a couple of arias for the groups accompanied on piano by Juliane Gallant and Giles Kennedy, talk to them about their work as professional opera singers and pianists while Astrid will talk about the company and show edited filming of the Die Fledermaus Research & Development and our previous Cosi Fan Tutte Street Opera.

We’ll be back in touch soon to let you know how the sessions go and our plans to run further sessions later on in the year!

 

Singers:

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.

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).

 

Abigail Kelly

Abigail Kelly

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).

David Horton

David Horton

David hails from Devon and studied at the Alexander Gibson Opera School at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) under the tutelage of Scott Johnson and was a grateful recipient of a scholarship from the RCS Trust. Previous training includes a BMus Hons from the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) and a year spent in Sydney, Australia, studying with Dr Rowena Cowley.

David’s recent operatic roles include: Moon/King of the East,The Enchanted Pig (Hampstead Garden Opera), multiple roles, including The Lover/The Friend/The Preacher The Vanishing Bridegroom (British Youth Opera), Eisenstein Die Fledermaus (RCS Opera), Tristan Le Vin Herbé (RCS Opera), Gaudienzo Il Signor Bruschino (Raucous Rossini) and a number of roles in English Eccentrics (British Youth Opera).

David has performed in a number of British and world premieres, most notably the UK Premiere of Kurt Schwertzik’s Shal-i-mar which was performed with the RNCM Symphony Orchestra. He also played Magician 1 in Henry McPherson’s opera Ūhte, recorded and filmed in conjunction with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Martyn Brabbins and premiered at the RCS Plug Festival 2016.

On the concert stage David has performed across Britain, most recently singing the eponymous St Nicholas by Benjamin Britten with Cupar Choral Society, Handel’s Messiah with GCCS at Glasgow Cathedral, a selection of Bach Cantatas with Ludus Baroque in Edinburgh and the tenor solos in Mozart’s Requiem at the Hargrave Music Festival. Whilst studying in Scotland, David also performed the tenor solos in Bach’s Magnificat and Haydn’s Nelson Mass with the Glasgow Cathedral Choral Society (GCCS) and Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music with the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Symphony Orchestra.

Summer 2018 saw David sing the title role in Bernstein’s Candide with Iford Arts Festival to great acclaim and Vanderdendur Candide for West Green House Opera, as well as Henry Crawford in Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park for Waterperry Opera.

Among his future projects this autumn, he sings and records the role of John in C.V. Stanford’s The Travelling Companion for New Sussex Opera, with performances at Cadogan Hall, London and Saffron Hall.

 

Pianists:

 

Juliane Gallant

Juliane Gallant

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.

 

Giles Kennedy

Giles Kennedy

Giles is a pianist, cellist and instrumental teacher based in Wimbledon. With a background in mathematics, he worked for some years in the fields of operational analysis, project management and IT consultancy but eventually decided there were for him more important things in life and has since pursued a varied career teaching piano and cello, performing whenever the opportunity arises, and working as an accompanist (currently with Wimbledon Community Chorus) and Musical Director.

In 2017 Giles founded the local baroque ensemble Original Blend with whom he plays baroque cello and despite being something of a baroque fanatic is particularly looking forward to a performance in May of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

And the word was FUN!

We asked Elliott, our workshop leader for the St John Bosco College Parallel Production to give us an idea of what the groups are getting up to….

St Marks Primary School Workshop

In the beginning was the word, and the word was FUN! Toward the tail end of 2018, I was lucky enough to lead taster workshops for both our prospective primary and secondary school cohorts. The plan, to take Baseless Fabric’s modernised version of the classic, ‘Die Fledermaus’ and go wild with it; adding characters and scenes or doing them in new and different ways, learning to sing with correct operatic technique, acting, song and script writing and of course we play games! As you can imagine the reception was fantastic and our taster sessions were so much fun, we had scenes set anywhere from a hilarious family dinner, just after Eisenstein had gotten in trouble with the police, to a party at the top of a mountain and a marriage counselling session between Eisenstein and Rosalinde on the moon. Read more

2018, what a year…

What a year 2018 was for Baseless Fabric! We began the year with the thrilling news that we were the first recipient of the Wimbledon Foundation’s prestigious new Arts and Community Engagement Fund for our new street opera project Die Fledermaus!

This project, with the additional support of Arts Council England, Merton Council and the Samuel Gardner Memorial Trust, encompasses the creative adaptation of an opera for the high street, the free professional performances, workshops for both schools and elderly lunch clubs and two school parallel productions! So while the project has similarities to our previous street operas Drifting Dragons and Cosi Fan Tutte, it is also bigger and better than ever! Read more

So which superhero are you?

We had a great time in our Research & Development rehearsals and sharing last week. Thank you to everyone who came along to see what we’ve been up to so far and give feedback. As well as working hard on the music, staging the scenes and making sure the storyline is clear we also asked our singers a few questions to help you get to know them….

Die Fledermaus R&D

We have a superhero theme to Die Fledermaus. If you could be any superhero who would you be and why?

Claire Wild: I want to be the invisible one from Fantastic Four for a million reasons really, but mostly to be sneaky and overhear conversations.

David Horton: Nightcrawler because he can teleport and is super agile and I’m neither of those things!

Alistair Ollerenshaw: Spiderman – to be super agile and be able to swing from buildings.

Abigail Kelly: Scarlet Witch as she is possibly the most powerful being in the Marvel universe. Read more

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. Read more

Fancy a sneak peek of our new street opera?

Eventbrite - Die Fledermaus R&D Sharing

The Production

Die Fledermaus is a hugely fun, often silly story with some brilliant characters and very catchy tunes. Die Fledermaus means ‘The Bat’ but in our modern version Bat Man may play a role instead! Funded by the Wimbledon Foundation’s new Arts and Community Engagement Fund (ACE), Arts Council EnglandMerton Council and the Samuel Gardner Memorial Trust, our Die Fledermaus production follows on from the success of our two previous Merton Street Operas Drifting Dragons and Cosi Fan Tutte. Like these previous productions, Die Fledermaus has been cut to approximately an hour, with a new modern English accessible libretto, and with the music re-written for 3 instruments suitable for promenade performance. The final production will take place in summer 2019 with scenes popping up along the high street and with the audience free to follow our characters down the street or just watch one scene. The music has some waltzes this time round so hope you’ll be waltzing down the high street with us!

The Free Sharing

On the 29th November at Wimbledon Theatre Studio we will be presenting a few scenes from our new adaptation, discussing our work and asking for your feedback (duration approximately an hour). If you would like to join us please click to book your ticket now. Tickets are FREE but limited so please register.

Eventbrite - Die Fledermaus R&D Sharing

Our school parallel productions of Die Fledermaus

We are thrilled to announce a new and exciting aspect of the Die Fledermaus project!

St Teresa’s Primary School opera workshop

As well as our professional cast performing our re-imagined version of Die Fledermaus in summer 2019, we will also have two groups of young people creating their own new versions of this classic opera as part of an ongoing youth opera project! The two groups, one primary and one secondary, will meet up fortnightly January – July 2019 with our professional music and drama practitioners to learn to sing and act out songs and scenes from the opera as well as writing new scenes, songs and perhaps even new characters to create their very own brand new show inspired by the opera. The fortnightly sessions will then lead to a week’s rehearsal and performance in the summer holidays so that the groups can show their ‘parallel productions’ to parents, teachers and the professional cast! Following which the groups will come to see our professional production to experience seeing a professional opera and hearing professional opera singers live and up close – and to be able to compare the professional version to their own! Read more

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

Re-imagining opera for the high street: the libretto

After the success of last year’s Cosi Fan Tutte and with the amazing opportunity afforded by Wimbledon Foundation’s Arts & Community Engagement Fund, we were excited to get to work on the tricky but satisfying process of adapting another opera for performances along the high street to reach audiences who might never go to see an opera in a traditional opera house / theatre venue.

As we’d had such positive audience responses to our adaptation of Cosi, we decided to have the same team re-writing Die Fledermaus – myself, Artistic Director Joanna Turner, re-writing the libretto (the words the characters sing) and Leo Geyer re-writing the music (changing what’s written for a full orchestra to 3 instruments, changes to vocal lines and of course making sure our massive cuts work musically). Together Leo and I also cut the opera down to about an hour and adapt it to make sense for the modern high street. Read more