Dan Potra's costume design for 'The Journalist' in The Portrait

Dan Potra's costume design for 'The Journalist'

Richard Burkhard is writing a fortnightly blog as he prepares for roles in Opera North’s productions of The Portrait and The Merry Widow.

Happy 2011.…I’m currently on the train back to Leeds, relieved that the festive period is over.  I can’t remember whether or not at my ‘Portrait’ costume fitting, back in December, a discussion was had about allowing for ’Festive Spread’ (I don‘t mean brandy butter).  I’ll not be able to look Stephen Rodwell, Head of Wardrobe, in the eye if he and his talented colleagues are obliged to ‘let out’ my costume, now that, presumably, it’s pretty well made. The gym beckons..

Christmas is, of course, a time for music making, and ever since I was a young’un  I’ve been busy at this time of  year. As a boy chorister at St.George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, I remember we had a particularly full schedule. Often the Royal Family were in residence and would attend services, and often these services would be going out live on telly. These commitments meant that the choristers weren’t allowed home until after Sung Eucharist on Christmas morning. This seemed unfair to a nine year old, but thinking about it now, it probably made Christmas all the more special…I must tell my own nine year old to stop playing ‘Jingle Bells’ on the piano. Now that the festive period is over, it just seems wrong…a bit like roasting a turkey in July. You just wouldn’t do it, would you!

I was very happy to have some time off with my family over Christmas, having been in Leeds for a while. Indeed, the director, David Pountney, in a fit of festive philanthropy, gave us until January 7th off. He was obviously happy with what had been achieved before the break, and didn’t see the need to return to Leeds between Christmas and New Year.

Work wise, I’ve been gathering together recital repertoire for a Leeds Lieder concert which will happen after the Widow/Portrait tour ends in March. It still seems a while off, but I need to get going on it. Along with more established repertoire, some of the music is new to me and, evidently, quite challenging. I’m performing some songs by my dear friend and pianist Edward Rushton (a Leeds boy). Edward is a wonderful composer, and his music is being heard more and more. But, and here’s the problem, it’s shockingly difficult to learn…and to play… Edward, ironically, maintains he can’t play his own music! Of course he can, but the fact that he’s my pianist rather puts the onus on me to get it right!

My train to Leeds is now severely delayed. Am I the slightest bit annoyed? No, not a bit of it. In fact, my mood is one of lightness and fluffiness. You see, my resolution for 2011 is to curb my tendency to complain, to grouch and grouse, and, in this case, to rise above the fact that we are currently stationary somewhere outside Derby, nearly an hour behind schedule, that courtesy amongst passengers is clearly a thing of the past, that there are no announcements, no apologies, nowhere to sit, and no Diet Coke…aaaagh! Panic!!

Back to ’Portrait’ rehearsals tomorrow, IF I get there! I’ll let you know how things are going soon. Bye for now!

Richard Burkhard

The Portrait opens on Wednesday 2nd February 2011 – more info

The Merry Widow opens on Thursday 3rd February 2011 – more info