Ok, first things first – ‘libretto’ is just the opera name for the words that the characters sing. I’d not written one before and now, for our upcoming production of Cosi Fan Tutte, I’ve tried my hand at this for the first time. It was quite hard! But really fun and exhilarating at the same time. And having worked as Assistant Director on Opera North’s production a few years ago, I knew this story inside out and so had very clear ideas about what I wanted to cut to make a shorter version (which bits of music though lovely don’t move the plot forward etc) and how I wanted to re-imagine this story for the modern world around us.
We’re currently in the middle of our Research & Development for Cosi Fan Tutte, working out how to adapt a 3 hour Italian opera with full orchestra to the high street (perhaps not the easiest task!) But don’t worry, it’s sung with a new modern English text, our singers accompanied by 3 instrumentalists (bassoon, accordion and violin) and we’ve ruthlessly cut it down to about an hour.
We are proud to announce our singers for the Cosi Fan Tutte street opera R&D.
Felicity Buckland – Dorabella
Felicity trained at the RNCM, and on ENO’s Opera Works programme. She studies privately with Mary Plazas.
Her operatic appearances include Angelina La Cenerentola (High Time Opera); Cherubino The Marriage of Figaro (Opera Up Close); Cupid Orpheus in the Underworld and Ida/cover Orlovsky Die Fledermaus (Opera Danube); Una, Kiss Me, Figaro! (Merry Opera) and Mercedes Carmen (Co-Opera Co). She has also spent seasons in the chorus at Opera Holland Park, as a chorus mentor for Birmingham Opera, and at English Touring Opera, where she also sang the role of Mama in Dust Child, a specially-written opera for children with special educational needs.
Felicity is in demand for solo oratorio, and performs and records extensively as a professional consort singer, including appearing on Eric Whitacre’s Grammy Award-winning choral disc, Light and Gold. She is also a singing tutor and experienced choral animateur, leading workshops for a variety of groups of people.
Felicity is currently preparing the role of Rossweisse in Die Walküre for Grange Park Opera, in their brand new theatre at West Horsley Place. Read more
Following the success of our new Merton street opera Drifting Dragons last year, we are delighted to announce our 2017 street opera production of Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte. It’s a story about love and friendship, cheating, and testing the one you love. Both funny and moving, we’re sure you’ll love following our characters rather complicated love lives taking place on the streets of Merton!
Our performances will be completely free and unticketed in a variety of places in Merton town centres high – popping up in cafes, pubs, supermarkets, libraries and perhaps at the bus stop! We hope you’ll follow our story and hear the beautiful music as you’re going about your normal life. Perhaps you can do the weekly shop and see some opera at the same time?!
We’re again partnering with Merton Music Foundation to offer local schools complimentary workshops teaching young people about opera, and with organisations such as the New Horizon Centre and Merton & Morden Guild to engage local elderly people with this fantastic story of love, confusion and betrayal. We’ll keep you updated with what we get up to as we go along. Read more
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
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!
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
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 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.
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!
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 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 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.
Well, we’ve had a pretty fantastic couple of weeks meeting lots of different people, hearing their amazing real life stories and getting their ideas for what our opera about friendship should be about. We’re feeling totally inspired by everyone and feel very lucky to have met both older people who’ve led such fascinating lives and young people who’ve got so many great ideas!
For our young people’s workshops we had great fun leading workshops for Wimbledon Park Primary School, Raynes Park High School, the Merton Youth Concert Band and the 4th Morden Girls’ Brigade to teach them about the process of creating stories and song writing. Thanks so much everyone who was involved for all your fantastic ideas. I didn’t realise digging to China with spoons was such a common childhood activity!
Greg and I now have a strong idea of what the story of our piece is – the overall idea is inspired by various conversations with everyone, specific storyline ideas that have come up in our workshops with young people or via our online questionnaire, and little bits of personal stories or short lines people have said are making their way into the libretto. Greg is now hard at work writing the music for these first few songs (or arias and duets) and I’m busy casting our singers to help us bring the piece to life in rehearsal. We’ll be holding a sharing to invite everyone to give feedback on what we’ve done so far so stay tuned…!
P.S. If you haven’t yet filled in our online questionnaire and would like to be involved please do so here