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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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Big thanks to everyone involved in Drifting Dragons

Patisserie Valerie, Wimbledon Piazza

Patisserie Valerie, Wimbledon Piazza

We had such an amazing time running our Merton Opera project Drifting Dragons this summer – we hope you managed to catch one of the performances on your high street or perhaps participated in one of our workshops at schools and young people’s groups in the area.

It was fantastic seeing the surprised faces in Morrisons and M&S as customers realised that other customers were opera singing their conversation! And we were delighted by the positive audience responses – everybody seemed surprised and pleased we’d gatecrashed their lives for 10mins in a public space as they went about their daily life, shopping, waiting for a bus or drinking coffee.

Jigsaw4u

Jigsaw4u

The biggest thanks to all of the local businesses across the borough of Merton that supported the project and allowed us to perform in their stores – Wyevale Garden Centre, The Gorringe Park Pub, Tesco Tooting, M&S and the Qube Centre, Café La Lavella and Morden Library, the New Horizon Centre and Pollards Hill Library, Starbucks & Waitrose Raynes Park, Tag Elezz Café and Morrisons Mitcham, Patisserie Valerie and Morrisons Wimbledon, Saucer & Cup and the Co-Op Wimbledon Park, Maison St Cassien and Bayley & Sage! And also thanks for those involved in our performances as part of the Arcola Theatre’s Grimeborn Festival – Café Route, Dalston Junction station manager, Dalston Square, Hackney Council and of course the Arcola itself. We had so much enthusiasm and support so thank you all! Read more

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Are you interested in singing or acting in Merton?

We hope you managed to catch Drifting Dragons on your high street and you were given one of our info flyers with details of local music and drama groups that you can get involved in. If not, here are the details of some groups in the area:

Merton-Music-Foundation-logo

Merton Music Foundation (MMF) – www.mmf.org.uk
Established as a charity in March 1991, MMF provides high quality music education for children in Merton. One of the Charity’s key priorities is to support schools in the provision of an enriched music entitlement for all pupils. Instrumental and vocal tuition is available for both individuals and groups, and a wide range of orchestras, bands, choirs and ensembles are provided for those keen to experience the benefits of group music making. The Foundation has an active programme of project development with professional musicians and artists regularly working with children in Merton schools and at the Borough’s Music Centre. Other services include instrument hire and financial support for families in need. Read more

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Composing Drifting Dragons

Drifting Dragons outside M&S. Photo: Oliver.john Works

Drifting Dragons outside M&S. Photo: Oliver.john Works

It was a daunting prospect. Write an opera? I had written a considerable amount of instrumental music and songs for theatre before but never an opera. This would be something new.

Those who have been following the Drifting Dragons journey will know that it began life around a year ago. Joanna Turner, Artistic Director of Baseless Fabric, wanted to create a promenade opera about the lives of Londoners. She was looking for a composer and I nervously but eagerly raised my hand across cyberspace. Before long we had agreed to work together and were interviewing local people in Merton (Baseless Fabric’s home borough) about their views on opera, as well as finding out about their lives and memories, which would ultimately feed into the story of Drifting Dragons. The theme for the opera soon established itself as friendship and how over time it can be rocked by setbacks and challenges. I set to work writing the libretto and music for a short work-in-progress performance at the Wimbledon Theatre at the end of January 2016. Read more

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Interviews with the cast of Drifting Dragons

We had a chat with our cast of Drifting Dragons about what they really put in their supermarket shopping basket. Check us out in your local Morrisons this week!


Greg Harradine

Greg Harradine

Name: Greg Harradine

What do you play and where did you train? “Piano and Guitar and I trained at Kingston University and did a degree in Music Technology then a Masters for Composing for Film and TV.”

What made you decide to be a composer? “Music has always been the thing I love doing, not wanting to practise an instrument for hours, composing seemed to be the thing to do!

What do you do in your spare time? “I enjoy cycling and running, reading, but also hanging out with my friends”

If we bumped into you in the supermarket, what would you have in your shopping basket? “Tough one, I’d have lots of fruit and veg, bit of salmon maybe, some chicken and also some eggs, I’m a simple guy!” Read more

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Drifting Dragons Cast Announced

We are excited to announce the cast for our upcoming production of ‘Drifting Dragons’. This production is a new street opera coming to the streets of Merton and we’re also taking it to the Arcola Theatre’s Grimeborn Opera Festival

 

Felicity-Buckland-headshotFelicity Buckland
Sadie

Felicity trained at the RNCM where she received the Eunice Pettigrew Prize and graduated with 1st Class Honours, and later on ENO’s Opera Works programme. She currently studies privately with Mary Plazas.

Her operatic appearances include Cherubino The Marriage of Figaro (Opera Up Close); Cupid Orpheus in the Underworld and Ida/cover Orlovsky Die Fledermaus (Opera Danube); Cunaide Iernin (Surrey Opera); Una, Kiss Me, Figaro! (Merry Opera) and Mercedes Carmen (Co-Opera Co). She has also spent seasons in the chorus at Opera Holland Park, Grange Park Opera where she covered Annina in La Traviata, and as a chorus mentor for Birmingham Opera.

Read more

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Sneak peek of ‘Drifting Dragons’

If you weren’t lucky enough to make it along to our public sharing at the end of our Arts Council funded R&D of ‘Drifting Dragons’, you can get an idea of what we’re up to in this video. Thanks to Oskar McCarthy, Ayaka Tanimoto, Rosemary Hinton & Greg Harradine.

We’re now onto the next stage of the project planning for the full production in the summer. So if you like what you see stay tuned!

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Thanks for supporting Drifting Dragons!

A big thanks to everyone who came to the public sharing of our new opera Drifting Dragons inspired by local people’s stories in Merton. We were so pleased that so many people were able to make it and gave us such positive and useful feedback via a lively Q&A session, filmed interviews and questionnaire forms. We’ll now be developing the piece further towards full production on the streets of Merton this summer (and perhaps further afield, who knows) so watch this space…!

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Drifting Dragons Public Sharing

We’re having a public sharing of the R&D of our new opera Drifting Dragons on Friday 29th January at 4pm at New Wimbledon Studio. We would love to get your feedback on the three scenes we’ve written so far and your ideas for how the piece could develop. We’re aiming to work towards a full production in the summer in various locations on the streets of Merton so all your ideas would be very helpful! All ages welcome. Refreshments will be provided.

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Cast announced for ‘Drifting Dragons’ the new Merton Opera Project

Baseless Fabric Theatre is proud to announce the cast for its new Merton Opera Project.

OSKAR MCCARTHY – Jason
AYAKA TANIMOTO – Sadie
ROSEMARY HINTON – Violin
GREG HARRADINE – Guitar / Composer

OSKAR MCCARTHY

Oskar McCarthy

Oskar McCarthy

Oskar studied English and Modern Languages at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, where he was a choral scholar. His operatic roles include Uberto (La serva padrona), Guglielmo (Così fan tutte) and Taddeo (L’italiana in Algeri) for Pop-Up Opera, Falke (Die Fledermaus) and Binnacle/Garibdis (Ulla’s Odyssey) for OperaUpClose, Aeneas (Dido and Aeneas) for Barefoot Opera, Dottorre/Marchese (La traviata), Escamillo (CarMen) and Orest (Elektra) for Secret Opera, Angelotti (Tosca) and Bello (La fanciulla del west) for Midsummer Opera, Trinity Moses (Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny) for King’s Opera, and Arsamenes (Serse) and Edmund Bertram (Jonathan Dove’s Mansfield Park) for Hampstead Garden Opera. He will perform Leporello for Midsummer Opera in April 2016. Recital work includes the UK premiere of Schoeck’s Lebendig Begraben and Mahler’s Kindertotenlieder for the London Month of the Dead and the world premiere of John Whittaker’s Shakespeare Songs for Opera Anywhere. Oskar is a core company member of ERRATICA, an ensemble with whom he trains and devises innovative cross-genre work, and he is actively involved in actor-musician projects, both as a horn player and singer. Oskar’s ongoing interest in broadening his skillset as a performer has led him to taking masterclasses in clowning at The Comedy School, and attending Jonathan Kay’s Nomadic Academy for Fools.  www.oskarmccarthy.com

AYAKA TANIMOTO

Ayaka Tanimoto

Ayaka Tanimoto

Ayaka Tanimoto graduated from the Royal College of Music with a Bachelor of Music (BMus Hons) in 2009 and a Masters in Vocal Performance (MPerf) in 2011. Having trained extensively under Margaret Cable and Patricia Rozario OBE, Ayaka’s studies were supported in by the Okada Cultural Foundation Scholarship as well as the Mie International Exchange Foundation Scholarship (Japan). She then continued her training as a Scholar at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Alexander Gibson Opera School where she sang the main role of Sesto in Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito.

Ayaka has won numerous awards in Japan and the UK including the 1st prize at the 3rd International Ernest Bloch Competition in London. To date, Ayaka has taken to the opera stage many times, singing 2nd boy and 2nd Lady in Mozart’s Magic Flute (Longborough Festival Opera & LFO Tour), Iolanthe in G&S’s Iolanthe (Brent Opera), covering Darabella in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte (Opera de Baugé), Poppet in Benjamin Britten’s Paul Bunyan (British Youth Opera), Flora Bervoix in Verdi’s La Traviata (Opera Lyrica), Suzuki in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (Bury Court Opera/Grimeborn Festival), and Chorus for Opera Holland Park.

Ayaka’s future engagements include, singing Suzuki in Puccini’s Madama Butterfly (Bury Court Opera and Secret Opera) and Chorus for Opera Holland Park. ayakatanimoto.com Read more