Giulio Cesare

3 Jan 2012

This year I’ve been very lucky, because there have been no production rehearsals or performances between Christmas & New Year – a previously unheard of state of things – so I have had a lovely long time away and have completely forgotten how to work the computer. And when you’re full of turkey and Christmas pud it’s hard to rack up the enthusiasm needed to come back to work…

Now of course, reality intrudes with a bang – delays on the trains mean that one person hasn’t arrived, another is ill and can’t be here for the final studio run-through and things we thought had been arranged before we went away are unravelling.

The technical staff are getting in to the theatre and champing at the bit for the Giulio Cesare set, which they want on stage, but is being used for this morning’s rehearsal; the orchestra (who HAVE been working, giving 2 Viennese New Year concerts) are rehearsing in the Howard Assembly Room; we have the first Cesare stage rehearsals at the end of the week, leading up to the opening in 10 days time; and the Planning and Education Departments want to talk about the future. Oh, and the weather is HORRID.

Hit the ground running? At the moment I’m just about shuffling along. But this is a season of strong women, with our operas Norma, Cesare (Cleopatra is stunning) and Madama Butterfly…so oh well, back to the treadmill.

Happy New Year everybody!

By the way – Giulio Cesare and Norma are both looking and sounding fantastic, so it’s all worth it in the end.

Handel’s Giulio Cesare is inspired by one of the most passionate romances of all time – that between Julius Caesar and Cleopatra. Opens on Saturday 14th January.

Bellini’s Norma tells the tale of one woman’s struggle to save her people from ruin. Opens on Saturday 28th January.

Puccini’s Madama Butterfly is the tale of a Japanese woman who sacrifices everything for love. Opens on Sunday 5th Febraury

Oliver Knight

Should you find yourself with your nose to the grindstone, your shoulder to the wheel, putting your best foot forward with your head duly bowed. Then you are either playing the harshest game of twister known to man, or a slave in Giulio Cesare.

In my case, this time at least, it’s the latter.

Not being one usually known for his world class voice, I never dreamed I would ever actually be in an opera. I have been fascinated and enthralled by it ever since I was taken as a child to see The Magic Flute, and I am an actor, but this is something new, and rather special to me.

The supernumerary role can be many things. Often it’s all standing about guarding doors, or milling about in the background, filling the space where the principals are not. Though there is some of that, this is much more fun.
For one thing the five of us do have to manually rotate the truck (a rotating stage) in true slave fashion. However, Tim [Albery, the director] also has the faith in us to really involve us in much of the action, which is just great.

The real bonus though, is just being there when the principals sing. Opera from three feet away is an experience I shall keep with me always. As indeed is being, albeit briefly, part of the Opera North family. An incredibly welcoming and generous company that have taken us into their world.

Cannot wait for tomorrow, to see what they throw at us next. I am loving every minute, will keep you posted.

Oliver Knight

Giulio Cesare opens at Leeds Grand Theatre on Saturday 14 January, before touring to Nottingham, Newcastle, Salford and Dublin. For more information about this production, click here.