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…

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?!

Hooray Henries dress as Nuns and break into wine cellar


If that sounds like the plot of an opera, it’s because it is.

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Tue 15th, Wed 16th, Fri 18th Jul 19.00h
Sun 20th Jul 14:30h

The Adventures of Count Ory (think Tintin crossed with Don Juan) a cartoonish take on Rossini’s le Comte d’Ory is the latest production from the ever wonderful Blackheath Halls, and the creative team which is Harry Fehr, Nick Jenkins and Rose Ballantyne; and one of the reasons I’ve not been on this site in a while. (That, and trying to organise a festival for the winter solstice, launch a new Arachne Press Title, and plan the next one!)

Religious fever has gripped a small feudal town (Camberwick Green! With a Castle!) as the ‘Hermit’ a modern-day evangelical preacher comes to town. But all is not as it seems. Disguise and Deception  are the order of the day, and chaos quickly ensues.

Tickets are selling fast get your now

I’ll be one of the ones in a habit/white ties & tails/ combat gear /etc etc.