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Announcing the Cast of Carmen!

We are delighted to announce the cast of Carmen:

Felicity Buckland – Carmen (Arcola Theatre)

Felicity Buckland

Felicity trained at the RNCM and on English National Opera’s Opera Works programme.

Recent solo appearances include Kasturbai, Glass Satyagraha for ENO, Wellgunde Wagner The Rhinegold for Birmingham Opera and Nicklausse, Offenbach The Tales of Hoffmann for Kentish Opera. Previous ENO highlights include cover roles in The Valkyrie, The Mask of Orpheus (Birtwistle), Orpheus in the Underworld, Carmen, and Olivier-Award winning Porgy and Bess. Elsewhere she has sung the title roles in Carmen (Kentish Opera) and La Cenerentola (High Time Opera); Rosina The Barber of Seville (Opera South) Rossweisse Die Walküre (Grange Park Opera); Olga Eugene Onegin (Opera Up Close, Opera South East, Mid Wales Opera (cover)); Dorabella Così Fan Tutte (Baseless Fabric Theatre); Cherubino The Marriage of Figaro, and 3rd Lady The Magic Flute (both Opera Up Close). She is a regular extra chorister for The Royal Opera House, ENO and Opera North.

Felicity is in demand for solo oratorio, music education projects and consort/session work, and is delighted to be a regular part of Baseless Fabric’s Learning and Participation Projects.

Jonathan Cooke – Don Jose

Jonathan Cooke

Born and raised in Cheshire, versatile tenor Jonathan Cooke enjoys a varied singing career both in England and abroad. He studied at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and has worked with some of the country’s biggest opera companies including Garsington, Scottish Opera, Grange Park Opera, Longborough Festival Opera and West Green House Opera.

Jonathan’s operatic rôles include divers characters such as Ruggero La Rondine (RCS), Le Mari Les Mamelles de Tiresias (RCS), Eisenstein die Fledermaus (Fulham Opera, Baseless Fabric), Squeak Billy Budd (St Endellion Summer Music Festival), Turridu, Cavalleria Rusticana (Hampstead Garden Opera, North Wales Opera Studio) Cavaradossi Tosca (Bridgetower Ensemble Opera, North Wales Opera Studio) and Lensky Eugene Onegin (Opera South East).

Outside of opera, and amongst other things, Jonathan is privileged to sing for Songhaven, a dementia-friendly concert series.

Pre-lockdown in 2020, Jonathan sang the rôle of Pinkerton in Opera Up Close’s tour of Madam Butterfly. During the pandemic, with performing opportunities sparse, he still managed to perform in socially-distanced performances of Tristan und Isolde, Tosca, and Carmen. Most recently, Jonathan returned to Kentish Opera to sing the title rôle in The Tales of Hoffmann.

Susannah Horowitz – Carmen (Street Performances)

Susannah Horowitz

Mezzo-Soprano Susannah Horowitz is a Masters graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, coached by Catherine Wyn-Rogers and James Baillieu. She is a graduate scholar BMus (Hons) of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

This season, Susannah will make her debut with the Glyndebourne Festival Chorus for their Summer 2022 season. She has been a Young Artist with Nevill Holt Opera since 2017, including Chorus for Puccini’s Tosca (directed by Oliver Mears), cover Marcellina in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro (directed by Joe Austin), gala and concert performances, and documentary filming for the RIBA Stirling Prize 2019.

Susannah has performed in opera scenes including Flight (Dove) – Stewardess. Hänsel und Gretel (Humperdinck) – Hänsel. Die Zauberflöte (Mozart) – Dritte Dame. Carmen (Bizet) – Mercédès. Giulio Cesare (Handel) – Sesto, in addition to working in depth on the character of Dorabella (Così fan tutte, Mozart) with British Youth Opera. During her time at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Susannah performed in two opera productions, La Rondine (Puccini) and Sir John in Love (Vaughan Williams) directed by Benjamin Davis.

Alongside opera, Susannah is an experienced choral and session singer, working with organisations including London Voices and Warner Bros Games on film, television, and game soundtracks.

A full biography can be found at susannahhorowitz.com

Nicholas Morris – Escamillo

Nicholas Morris

Nicholas trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland). This summer he will appear in A Kind Man by Jonathan Finney and perform in Kussen’s Where the wild things are with Shadwell Opera in Bamberg. Recently he has appeared for Theatre Magdeburg as Monterone in Rigoletto and in the world premiere of King Kong by Jeffrey Ching, sung the Mayor in the community opera Bloom Britannia by Orlando Gough, recorded Margaret Catchpole by Stephen Dodgson for Naxos, taken the title role in the world premiere of To see the Invisible by Emily Howard at Snape Maltings, played Garibaldo in Rodelinda, and sung Marcello in La Boheme. In previous seasons he has made his debut in Croatia as Smirnov, The Bear, performed in the Portuguese and British premiers of the contemporary work Hummus by Zad Moultaka and appeared as Maxwell Davies’ Mad King and as the Officer in Glass’ In the penal Colony with Shadwell Opera.

Before training as an opera singer, Nicholas studied at Jesus College, Cambridge, where, when not singing or playing rugby, he read history and philosophy of science. During his time at Cambridge he was a member of King’s College Choir. He began his singing career as a chorister at Peterborough Cathedral.

For more information please visit www.ndmorris.co.uk

Claire Wild – Micaela

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).

 

Leo Geyer – Arranger/MD and Bassoon

Leo Geyer

Leo Geyer is a young composer and conductor with a passion for imaginative, daring and dramatic approaches to music-making, encompassing new work, cross-disciplinary collaborations and re-imaginings of existing music. He is the Founder and Artistic Director of Constella OperaBallet, Cover Conductor for The Royal Ballet and Music Director for EMG Symphony Orchestra, and works as a guest artist internationally.

Leo has received various accolades for composition, having most recently been awarded the Lord Mayor’s Composition Prize. He has received particular acclaim for his stage works, including his opera The Mermaid of Zennor, described by The Times as “imaginative and beautifully shaped”. Leo has fulfilled major commissions, which include works for the European Capital of Culture, Tate St. Ives, Opera North, Rambert Dance Company and BBC Singers. Leo is also establishing a reputation for his “re-imaginings,” which creatively engage with music of the past to extend its significance for today’s audiences. Most notably this has included the addition of a chorus to Elgar’s Enigma Variations to provide a possible solution to the “enigma puzzle”.

As well as his current conducting positions, Leo also works as a guest conductor, collaborating with The National Theatre, Ensemble 212 (USA), AUT (Denmark) and Southbank Sinfonia. Leo’s performances continue to receive critical acclaim, such as Constella’s performance of Pierrot Lunaire: “Leo Geyer directed with authority and complete command of an immensely demanding score”, British Theatre. Upcoming engagements include Theater an der Wien (Austria) and the English Chamber Orchestra.

Aged 19, Leo founded an orchestra which has now grown to become Constella OperaBallet – the world’s only company dedicated to the fusion of opera and ballet. Leo has brought together some of the UK’s finest young artists in over 60 critically acclaimed performances across the UK including broadcasts on TV and radio. Upcoming projects include a performance as part of the Chelsea Flower Show, a production as part of The Brontë Society’s bicentenary celebrations, an opera-ballet bringing to light undiscovered music written in Auschwitz, and national project celebrating coal mining to be performed in a specially commissioned touring installation

London-born, Leo studied Manchester University and the Royal Northern College of Music on the Joint Course, graduating with two first class degrees and The Soroptimists International of Manchester Award for Composers/Conductors. As part of his studies, Leo also attended the Vienna University of Music and Performing Arts to study conducting with Uroš Lajovic.

www.leogeyer.co.uk.

Ilona Suomalainen – Accordion

Ilona Suomalainen

Originally from Helsinki, Finland, Ilona Suomalainen graduated with a Masters degree from the Royal Academy of Music in 2017, studying under professor Owen Murray. Since then, she has gone on to establish a varied and diverse career as a freelance accordionist in the UK, with recent projects including work with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Aurora Orchestra, Opera Holland Park and Birmingham Opera Company. Outside of classical music, she regularly performs with the Israeli pop-jazz singer Irit Dekel, most recently supporting Caro Emerald and Lisa Stansfield on their respective UK nationwide tours.

Before moving to London, Ilona graduated from the Sibelius-Academy in Helsinki with a MMus degree studying with professors Matti Rantanen, Veli Kujala and Mika Väyrynen. In 2006, she won first-prize in the Finnish National Youth Accordion Competition and with her accordion trio, BCH, won the Chamber Music, Accordion Orchestra and Overall categories at the 2011 International Accordion Competition in Pula, Croatia. The trio also received the prize for the highest points ever awarded in the competition’s history.

A passionate teacher and educator, Ilona currently teaches accordion at the International School of London and privately across London. As part of her studies at the Sibelius-Academy, she also undertook an intensive course in specialised pedagogical training, which qualifies her to teach in educational institutions from pre-school to university.

Louisa Till – Violin

Louisa Till

Louisa is an active violinist and teacher based in London. She studied at the Royal Northern College of Music with Cecily Ward, James Clark and Pavel Fischer, gaining both BMus and MMus degrees.

At the RNCM, Louisa participated in projects with the BBC Philharmonic, Manchester Camerata and Chamber Orchestra of Europe, as well as touring internationally. Since moving to London, Louisa has particularly enjoyed her musical theatre work, performing in venues such as the London Palladium.

Louisa is delighted to be joining Baseless Fabric Theatre for their reimagined Carmen production.

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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! Read more

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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). Read more

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Help us bring opera to new audiences!

Cast & Creative Team from Cosi Fan Tutte at The Offies Awards

We are looking for reliable, enthusiastic volunteers with an interest in theatre, music and community projects to help us create our Cosi Fan Tutte re-imagined for high street locations in Merton, South London.

No experience necessary – all training will be provided! Volunteers will get a sneak peek into our rehearsals and travel expenses covered on performance days. We also provide tea & cake! To find out further details or if you have any questions please contact General Manager, Astrid Hilne.

Need more info? check out our Cosi Fan Tutte page.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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Merton Creative Networking Event

Following on from the success of last year’s successful Creative Networking Event, we are excited to again be collaborating with Attic Theatre Company to host another similar event this May. Last year’s event was at the new Merton Arts Space in Wimbledon Library and this year we’ll be in Mitcham Library.

It was a fun friendly evening for local creatives of all disciplines to meet and chat over a glass of wine and meet like-minded local creatives and this year will be no different. As well as the informal networking we’ll also have an opportunity for several creatives with upcoming projects or events to present to the group – including hopefully hearing more about the exciting Merton Borough of Culture Film project!

Read more

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For the love of libraries….

As Mamet plays in libraries is a bit different to opera on the high street, we thought perhaps you might be interested to hear a bit more about our forthcoming production of Reunion and Dark Pony and why it’s taking place in libraries across South London.

Firstly, we aim to present one opera and one theatre production a year. Last year it was street opera Drifting Dragons and digital promenade theatre piece A Secret Life, which took the audience on a journey round the streets and ended up for a scene in the wonderful Mason’s Arms pub. Both of those projects were new pieces based on local people’s stories and inspired by the many local people across Merton and Wandsworth we spoke to about their memories.

This year we have left new stories to re-discover old ones and present them in unusual public places. You don’t often hear Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte in the pub or the supermarket do you? But you do with us! So we wanted this year’s theatre production to also be a classic in an unexpected place.

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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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

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Do you think opera is for you?

Feedback from Bishop Gilpin School Opera workshop

Here at Baseless Fabric we are pretty passionate about giving everybody a chance to experience theatre and opera. Opera in particular is frequently seen as an art form that isn’t for ‘everyone’ and we truly believe it is and that everyone should have the chance to experience it. Luckily we have several wonderful funders who agree with this idea, including the brilliant Wimbledon Foundation who support charities in our home borough of Merton.

We were lucky enough to attend the exciting Wimbledon Championships this year and Artistic Director Joanna Turner was interviewed about the work that Baseless Fabric are doing to bring opera to new audiences and the opera workshops for young people and the elderly that Wimbledon Foundation have so kindly supported. Read more

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Cosi Fan Tutte Street Opera Performance Dates

Musicians playing during 'Drifting Dragons' (2016) street opera

Musicians playing during ‘Drifting Dragons’ (2016) street opera

It’s all coming together for Cosi Fan Tutte Street Opera! We’re super excited to announce our performance dates across the borough of Merton with the starting point in each area. The first scene will take place in the place mentioned below but we’ll shortly be moving on to the next local business for the next scene. So come prepared to follow the story along the high street with scenes taking place in a variety of different businesses with just a short walk in between.  We’ve got some crackers of places this year! It’ll be huge fun. 

Running time is about an hour but don’t forget, you’re free to stay for as long or as little as you like. So if you’ve never seen opera before but can only stay for 10mins just come watch the first scene – what have you got to lose?!  Read more