Heather Shipp (right) as Mad Margaret in Ruddigore. Photo credit: Robert Workman

Week Four of rehearsals for Carmen.  We have been enacting steamy, sweltering scenes in Acts I and II whilst trudging through the snow to and from rehearsals.  This is my biggest role for Opera North to date, the last being Mad Margaret in Ruddigore, .

Daniel Kramer and I have been looking forward to a project together for over two years and you couldn’t get any better than Carmen.  This will be my 6th production and it couldn’t be more different.  Carmen is very challenging physically and vocally but can also be a role that my other mezzo friends and I have felt that somehow can be really difficult to pull off. I say that in that there are so many perceptions of her being this Bohemian femme fatale that is so removed from just you and I, ordinary girlies.  Daniel’s view has made her seem really real to me for the first time and there is so much more proper interaction with the other characters and real relationships being forged.

The cast is great. I am so excited.  I had my first costume fitting the other day and couldn’t wipe the huge smile off my face for the whole of the two hours.  I’ve got my eye on the gorgeous pair of boots I get to parade in in Acts III and IV.  Was I going to be taller than my tenor I wondered as I tried them but no, I think that will be just right!  The dresses are just the right length to cover the increasing amounts of bruises I am collecting on my arms and legs too!!! Never have I been more man-handled!

Out of hours it is so great to keep bumping into colleagues that I haven’t seen for years or work with regularly, particularly my pals from Bregenz.  I worked with Rossyn who is conducting The Portrait, in Bregenz two years ago (another Opera North production).

So, things are good, challenging, inspiring and the first night really isn’t that far away. After Christmas it will be all guns blazing as we start on stage.

Carmen opens on 17 January in Leeds Grand Theatre