Oh the weeping and the wailing


The trouble with having a brilliant time at Blackheath Halls prancing about singing is that inevitably it comes to an end. The party helps make the break, and it was good to hear from orchestra members how much they enjoyed the process too, and either wanted to know what on earth we did to Macbeth (because seated with back to action) or admiring the way we faded into the darkness as assassins (which we didn’t know we were doing.) Also good to chat to everyone and say thank you properly for what has been the best opera yet, and the bar was high already. I am unreservedly proud to have been part of this production, thank you Nick, Chris and Rose (and everyone else) for making it such a joy.

Having lots for the chorus to sing really gave us the freedom to show what we are capable of – even the drunken spoofs at the party were in proper harmony this year, (if not absolutely the right key) usually I feel sorry for Rose’s neighbours.

Undertakers convention in Kiev

Undertakers convention in Kiev

Howsoever, very glad not to be donning black polo-neck, combat trousers, heavy boots and woolly hat today – all that stuff is on the washing line, it looks like we’ve just got back from an undertakers convention in Kiev.

I can’t settle to work today so I’ve made a vat of Gazpacho (too much to fit in the fridge, which is going to be a problem…) and started sifting through the nearly 3000 photographs from Lena Kern (official photographer this year) They are absolutely brilliant, and there are actually several of me this year, usually (apart from the year Tony Stewart did the photographs) there’s only  one or two. I will post my favourites later. The accounts can be put off for (yet) another day.

There is a groundswell of opinion amongst the chorus and some audience members that we ought to have recorded the performance. Nick, if you are reading this – maybe we could at least get the chorus back together and just do our numbers? Guaranteed 60 sales!

© Cherry Potts 2013

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