So five days rehearsing the wonderful operetta Die Fledermaus complete and I’m on my way home for just 24 hours. As I travel I reflect on the last few days. As I said last week this is my first opera in quite some time but I continue to realise how difficult it is to be an opera singer. The discipline that every performer needs is incredible and while I listen in rehearsals I’m in awe of the time that each of them must have given to reach the level they are at today.
The rehearsal rooms in Pimlico resonate with the waltzes of Strauss and a remarkable energy can be felt from each person as they sing their roles and support each other. Our conductor, Martin Handley is the breakfast voice on radio 3 as well as being an international conductor. He tells me that at school and university he was always playing the violin, piano, conducting or acting. He has since spent most of his life trying to combine his love of music and theatre by working in opera.
Handley began as a repetiteur in Germany, before breaking off to do a post-graduate acting course at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. The lure of the opera house proved too great and over the years Martin has really carved a career at the top end working at most of the international opera houses including English National Opera and The Royal Danish Opera. “I even ‘sang’ Tristan at the first night of David Pountney’s production of Wagner’s opera, but that’s another story!” I will get to the bottom of this during our Fledermaus week.
Today Sunday it’s laundry duties, singing lesson and tidying up some final corners of my German then a drive to my digs in Wells. Tomorrow Monday 1st June it’s a Sitzprobe (orchestral rehearsal) at 10am, dress rehearsal at 3pm and then opening night. Long day to say the least. It’s shows every day with matinees on Wednesday (my birthday – it wasn’t last week) and Saturday.
On another note, I had a very exciting phone call from the Band of The Welsh Guards today asking me to join them at St Peters Church, Carmarthen on 28th September on the day I fly home from concert in Ireland. I’m sure we’ll revisit Tell My Father as well as many other beautiful tunes with this remarkable military band. Can’t wait!
Almost forgot – whilst in London rehearsing last week I bumped into a unicorn! Well that’s what he told me. I stopped to talk, as you do and I was told at 10am that Mr Unicorn had been to a morning rave. A what? ‘A morning rave it starts at 5am and finishes at 9.30am then it’s breakfast and off to work – no drugs and no alcohol allowed’ I was told. Well blow me down – I really do learn something new every day.
Costumes, hair, makeup, curtain up its ShowTime and I’m a Bat (Die Fledermaus) not a unicorn. Maybe next time?
This article was originally published in the Carmarthen Journal in Mark’s weekly column for the paper.