On 16 August I moved to Leeds to work on Opera North’s production of The Adventures of Pinocchio. I’ve always been a big fan of opera and I feel privileged to be given the opportunity to work with such established musicians and singers.

A big part of my role is animating the birds and the Green Giant which means I am constantly changing costume throughout the show. I get a great help from the team backstage, I couldn’t do it without the dressers. However, controlling the Green giant is the most challenging; it is fairly heavy and cumbersome. Also, being inside the stomach is very hot but it means I can watch all of the action onstage through its belly button. It’s a fantastic workout; I think Opera North should launch a new DVD – the Green Giant Workout.

A lot of my rehearsals are with the chorus as we share a lot of scenes. Team work is essential as we need to all work in time together; we had to ensure we practiced until it was perfect. It’s important to challenge ourselves as performers, be willing to experiment and get out of our comfort zone. We have to be creative and have original ideas that add value to the performance.  More often then not it comes about through the interaction of different disciplinary ways of seeing things. The more experienced I am makes me more rounded as a performer. Being a puppeteer is an interesting challenge; giving life to the puppet is a technique that can be quite difficult to develop without experience.

I haven’t always focused on puppeteer work; I first began by taking ballet classes when I was very young in France, as I wanted to train to be a dancer. I pushed myself in technique, branching out into other dance forms which led me to meet a dance company who specialised in martial arts and Chinese dragon dancing. By working with them I was introduced to puppeteer work. This then developed further when I moved to the UK and performed in the Lion King. The Lion King is renowned for its use of puppetry as it features a variety of different animals – there’s everything from birds to hyenas, which gave me the opportunity to animate a range of puppets.

I really enjoyed the opening night of The Adventures of Pinocchio, it went really well and we got a great reaction from the audience. It is vital to connect with the audience by involving them and I always try to do this when I perform. I look forward to performing again and I hope the audience will be as responsive when I perform in Opera North’s new production of The Merry Widow.

Gregoire A. Meyer, 11 October 2010

To buy tickets and for more information, photos, video and reviews of The Adventures of Pinocchio please visit www.operanorth.co.uk/events/adventures-of-pinocchio/

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