Follow Opera North’s production of Così fan tutte from rehearsals and first fittings to singer’s insights and first night nerves.
Week Five, Allan Clayton, who will sing Ferrando, shares his tips on keeping up with the football and cricket while rehearsing an opera.
Opera’s a bit funny really. I spent the whole of one morning last week lying on the floor, pretending to receive electric shocks and throwing myself at women’s feet. The afternoon was then an exercise in manoeuvring around the set in trench coat, tricorn hat and sword like some sort of singing, sweaty Napoleon. I wondered what my friends with ‘proper’ jobs might make of it all were they a fly on the wall.
Though I’ve seen Cosi the most of any opera (a grand two and a half times), this is the first time I’ve sung in it and I have to say that it’s a cracking piece. Whilst I enjoyed The Abduction from the Seraglio that I sung here with Opera North last season, I really have noticed the gap in quality between the music of the two pieces. Seraglio has some stunning music, notably Constanze’s two arias, but rehearsing Cosi has been like attending an Opera Pops concert every day. There are so many fantastic arias, duets and ensembles and the pace of the action is relentless, even in the recitative sections. This isn’t always the case in Mozart opera, but our director, Tim Albery, has spent a lot of time with us on these crucial passages, so that they have not become throwaway sections but insights into our deeply messed-up characters. Honestly, it makes Eastenders or Corrie look more like The Darling Buds of May.
I have to admit that I’m writing this whilst listening to Liverpool v Aston Villa on the radio and I’m a bit grumpy as my beloved Liverpool are about to lose 3-1. Whenever I’m away from home, I try and make sure I can follow as much sport as possible. I love watching it anyway, and it’s a good way of staying in touch with ‘normal’ life when things can feel a bit hectic. I also had to find ways of keeping abreast of the Ashes goings on this past week as the final Test hung in the balance. Luckily our conductor, Andrew Parrott, and his assistant, Justin Doyle, were similarly interested and a series of elaborate mimes let me know that Stuart Broad had torn through the Aussies on day two. It took me a while to guess that pointing at shoes meant that Clarke’s wicket had fallen, but Justin’s frankly quite scary actions at the loss of Hussey had me unable to sing for about two pages.
Bit funny, opera…