Last Blackheath performance of Count Ory this afternoon


Barnaby J Munday making notes
Barnaby J Munday making notes

It is the last performance! After Friday’s sold out but sweltering performance, it is cooler this afternoon, and I can consider the wearing of my (quilted!) tail coat fairly calmly. I hope the sweat in the wimples has dried …

There’s a nice enthusiastic review on Classical Source.

Lena Kern (official photographer) has been having fun, and taken a few thousand pictures. I’ve had a quick look and winnowed out these particularly good ones of ME, making a fool of myself variously as:

Barnaby P Munday, Regional Reporter for the Camberwick Courier, a member of the B*llingd*n club, and said Hooray Henry disguised as a nun, and as a returning soldier.

Showing my nasty side as a drunken hooray henry
Showing my nasty side as a drunken hooray henry

Enjoy – I’m listening to the excellent recording by Juan Diego Flórez as I type, singing along to all the bits I DON’T sing on stage, so I’ll be nicely warmed up by 2pm.

Drunken disguises
Drunken disguises
exhausted from battle (and quick change in the bar)
exhausted from battle (and quick change in the bar)

Third night for Count Ory


It’s the third performance of The Adventures of Count Ory tonight, with a chance that we get a real thunderstorm, and a certainty that those nun’s habits will be unbearably hot!

nuns more numsApparently I’m a very convincing nun (that’s me far left) and a number of people have said they are reminded of their school days… hmm. Just because I can get a wimple on straight. I have a queue of tenors and basses asking me to put theirs right in the interval!

Some pretty silly alternative titles for the show have been flying about my favourite so far is the Baritones of Wimple Street. (If you don’t get it, you aren’t old enough.)

Joyce di Donato sent us a good luck message, and we tweeted her back a picture of the nuns, much to her amusement. We are even more funny in motion and song – come and find out!

Blackheath Count Ory gets 4 stars from What’s On Stage


That’s a headline a girl like to write.

read the whole thing here, but a little taster –

…proves once again that the words Blackheath Halls and triumph are synonymous.

…easy as it would be to dwell on the delights of the principals, it’s the magnificent chorus that deserves most attention…

Opera up close has come into its own in recent years, but usually without the thrill of having a full chorus just inches from the audience. In terms of breaking barriers, the Blackheath project achieves what many would like to, but rarely can, by putting opera at the heart of the community.

 

And here’s a couple more pictures. (Official photographer Lena Kern has done a much better job, and taken literally thousands of pictures. When I have some of those I’ll post them.

We’re on again tonight. I think there might be a couple of tickets left…

Paul & Susanne, a pair of cads if ever I saw one
Paul & Susanne, a pair of cads if ever I saw one
bullington club types
Lucasz, Andy, Alix and George doing their best to look like drunken toffs. More convincing on stage…

Count Ory first night tonight


Here’s a sneak preview of what you can expect: the villagers from act I scene I. It’s all very Camberwick Green – until ‘The Hermit’ shows  up…

LonCon 3 – Suggestions?


So I’m on a couple of panels for LonCon 3, and I need to do some homework so that I’m properly on the ball. Suggested (re)reading (and viewing I suppose) please, from all you SF fans out there.

First one:

WE CAN REBUILD YOU. SF medicine regularly comes up with “cures” for disabled bodies — from Geordi LaForge’s visor to the transfer of Jake Sully’s consciousness in Avatar — but the implications of such interventions are not always thought through as fully as we might hope. How does a rhetoric of medical breakthroughs and scientific progress shape these stories, and shape SF’s representation of lived physical difference? In what ways can SF narratives address dis/ability without either minimising or exaggerating such difference?

My immediate thought is Anne McCaffery’s The Ship Who Sang and from the film world Gattaca, but can anyone suggest any other SF where future-science plays a major part in coping with, or celebrating disability? I can think of piles of fantasy, but not so much SF. Obscure short stories maybe? Oh, something just surfaced in the old brain there – Vonda McKintyre – must find… Suggestions (of things you have actually read or seen yourself, please) in the comments please!

Panel number 2:

Liechester Square: Getting London Wrong

If there’s one thing you can guarantee about the reaction to any piece of SF set in London, it’s that British fans will delight in nit-picking the details: you can’t get there on the Piccadilly Line! So who are the worst offenders? Whose commodified Londons do we forgive for the sake of other virtues in their writing? Do we complain as much about cultural errors as geographic ones, and if not, why not? And given London’s status as a global city, is it even fair to claim ownership of its literary representation?

Suggested reading /viewing on this one? (Cliff – any particular episodes of Dr Who?)

I’m thinking Day of the Triffids, Quatermass, Rivers of London, Un Lun Dun, Veronica Britton, the dreadful (but London set) Avengers movie. There’s something by Diana Wynne Jones (I think) tugging at my memory too.

I don’t want to read or watch the entire enormous oeuvre of London Sci Fi, but any suggestions for particularly well-handled London, or particularly badly imagined London? Anything that makes you cry out as Lyra does, of Oxford, in The Subtle Knife:
That’s not my London!

Comments invited!

Singing in a veil


sisters2A new experience, singing whilst dressed as a nun. Apparently the costumes are borrowed from a production of Sister Act, and fit where they touch – A’s ‘cutty sark’ needs letting down about a foot so we don’t see her stripey socks until we are meant to. (I like the strategically placed light, it gives me a halo!)

The thing is, the veil makes it difficult to use your peripheral vision to sneak a look at Nick or the monitor for the beat. (It is also seriously HOT.)

The wimples have holes cut in to give our ears a bit of clearance,  and although I thought I could hear fine, I was complaining that hardly anyone was singing at one point – I now realise that the veil funnels your hearing so what’s in front of you is fine and you can hear yourself awfully well (not always a good thing!) but the rest is decidedly muffled. It was very trying getting notes from Harry and Jack against the orchestra running through something, I had no idea what was going on!

sister alexis
Sister Alix

It’s a bit scary how well a wimple suits almost everyone in the tenors and basses. Especially when they pull THAT face.

sister antonia
Sister Antonia

What a difference a floor makes


First stage rehearsal for The Adventures of Count Ory last night, and although there’s still some work to do on the seating, the stage is pretty much set up. Fantastic ‘stone slab’ flooring that will double as the town square and the castle. Bent-wood chairs have replaced the heavy cushioned metal ones that the audience get, which makes them easier to lug about (not that I do, but I sympathise with fellow cast members who are). The cafe tables are smaller, and have proper crockery, and it suddenly feels so much more real, but also profoundly confusing.

There are two points in a production where it becomes one step forward two back. It’s not just me, the principals are making meaningless noises at intervals. Fortunately I am not rattled by this. Eight operas in, I know these are just hiccups.

The first occurs when we go into production and have to start moving and singing at the same time. The second is now, when we get on the stage, because we are also working with the real amount of space, particularly around the entrances. This might seem insignificant, but we spent some time working out exactly how far we can come on stage as a body, without blocking audience view – this is a highly complex bit of choreography! How tall are the performers? Where is it safe to stand? No, we can’t see Nick’s beat if we have the door shut, so yes, we will miss the cue…

I’m still having to practice crossing myself correctly. (apparently I’d adopted Greek Orthodox and we’re going for Roman Catholic. Who knew there was a difference??  It’s something I’ve never done in my life before and being left-handed, using my right hand feels pretty odd anyway.

And then: How many chairs? Are you sure? Who’s moved my chair? Who’s supposed to have the other end of this bench? Where are the cigars? Shouldn’t there be more bottles? Ok, I know this is a cue coming up, but what am I meant to sing?!