Follow Opera North’s production of Così fan tutte from rehearsals and first fittings to singer’s insights and first night nerves.

Week four, Victoria Simmonds playing Dorabella talks about managing children and costumes.

It’s so great to be back up in Leeds again.  I’ve been looking forward to coming back up, revisiting old haunts, meeting up with old friends, and, of course, working on Cosi!  Must admit the shopping is great here too….

Since doing Pinocchio here (almost two years ago now) there’s been a new addition to the family – Olivia, who is almost 4 months old.  Because I’m still breast-feeding, I decided to bring her and Emily (now 3 and a half) up with me for the 6 week rehearsal period.  Hard work logistically, arranging child-care etc, but worth it.  When I was rehearsing for Pinocchio Emily stayed in London, so this time round life is very different for me in Leeds.  No getting up late (when I say late… any time after 8am) and going for a run along the river in the morning.  No chats around the tea-urn at break time or drinks after work….everybody say ahhh.  Life is a bit baby-centric at the moment.  At least when I’m at work, I really do appreciate it – it’s hard work, but slightly less tiring than the demands of home.  It’s also really great to be singing such a brilliant piece as Cosi again.

The first two weeks of rehearsals seem to have gone by in a flash.  We all met just over a week ago for a chat through the production with the Director, Tim Albery, and since then we’ve been ploughing through the piece musically and scenically at quite a pace.  Just as well really, as we only have another two weeks before we start rehearsals on the stage.  During rehearsals in the studio we have the real set to work on, and rehearsal costumes to wear.  For me that means putting on a long skirt over a hip boulstering undergarment, a shirt and some low heeled shoes.  All this goes on over my normal clothes, so it can all get a bit warm, as well as looking slightly unusual!  It does give us the benefit of knowing how much room we have to manouvre in our big frocks though, which is useful.

I love the concept of the production – it’s as if we’re lab rats in Dr Don Alfonso’s experiment.  I also love the look of the costumes – I get to wear a gorgeous corseted dress made out of the most sumptuous silvery silk.   It’s also nice to look at Dorabella again. I’ve sung the role twice before, but each time it’s been a totally different production, with totally different ideas about the role.   I’m enjoying this reading of it – you’ll have to come to the show to find out more!