Unsung heroes


We’ve got a very good review for Macbeth in Opera Today, but I do have to take issue with one thing: While I’m sure the opera wouldn’t happen without Keith Murray’s support, the true heart, soul and backbone of the community opera projects reside in the main in one person: key go-to person and community outreach worker, Rose Ballantyne.

Rose co-ordinates with the schools, the volunteers, the orchestra and the community chorus, negotiates with the principals and funders (with help from Helma Zebregs), works silly hours on days the children are rehearsing as well as the adults, and even lets us use her garden for the after-party. Alongside all this she helps produce the practice CDs, hires scores, learns most of every chorus part, and sings alto in the chorus. Sometimes she even joins the orchestra to play percussion.

It is Rose (and Helma again) who organise fundraising galas, sweet-talk potential benefactors, and Rose who fields chorus queries about costume, photographs, rehearsal timings, lost property, box office opening hours and who knows what else that people fret about when they are gearing up to perform. On Wednesday at about 22:30 we found her tidying the refugees’ coats and boots, which have to live in the foyer because of a quick change.

Rose is an oasis of kindness, coherence, commonsense and calm (not always felt, but always displayed) in what can get to be a rather fevered atmosphere, her people-wrangling skills are a marvel to behold. She holds the entire process together, and it WOULD NOT HAPPEN without her.

Matthew Rose dived into the chorus and hauled Rose up onto the front of stage to take a bow on Wednesday night. She knows how much we in the chorus appreciate her, it was nice to see her getting her well deserved applause.

© Cherry Potts 2013

rose with flowers  copyright Cherry Potts 2011