Hello, body!

As the dragonfly says ta-ra to his chapter as a nymph, so I have found a new, more consistent, appreciation for my body. It has nothing to do with weight or size, but rather a simple acknowledgment of the house I live in.

— Insert self-love anthem here 😉 —

Amidst some ups and downs, from sloth to super-being, I have, as I imagine many others have, taken up some new activities in recent weeks to relish the time as best I can.

As I said, there has been some curvature on my progression chart, and my rather on/off relationship with yoga has been starkly highlighted during this time at home with no excuse for a lack of routine, and yet, irregular bouts of yoga. I LOVE the idea of being as flexible as possible, and being in tune with my body’s needs and wants. The reality is that I only seem to remember to ‘tune in’ once I feel discomfort. Another factor is my struggle to prioritise health when I have any extended time between gigs and contracts. With the next possible gig being 4 months away, I guess that’s now…

Body awareness comes with the territory of performing, and I count myself very lucky to have worked with some phenomenal movement practitioners and directors on my portrayal of boys, girls, men and women on stage. I consider myself relatively well-equipped and self-aware and love to question whether how I am walking/sitting/glancing is innate to me as Camilla and if so, do I think that’s right for the character? This element of choice is so, so interesting to me, and the more we learn about our ‘normal’ habits of walking and talking etc the more choices we have.

Have I maintained a level of awareness offstage, out of rehearsals, reading a book, or knitting, out of sight? Nope.

BUT I had a breakthrough last week, and I think it’s a game-changer: 15 minutes into a YouTube rabbit-hole of related videos (that very rarely bare resemblance in subject matter), I came across a Q&A with Thich Nhat Hanh.

He said something that quite literally induced a transformation. Instantly I was aware of my body in a way that felt utterly healthy and absurdly new.
‘Breathe in and go home to your body’
He suggested. Ask yourself ‘Do I have a body?’ Yes? Say hello to it.

That was it.

‘Breathe in and go home to your body’
Ask yourself ‘Do I have a body?’ Yes? Say hello to it.

This small act of reminding myself that I have a body has stayed with me, and I have tried very hard to repeat this ‘going home’ and acknowledgment throughout my days. I so often sit rigidly while reading or knitting or will remain in a position that’s not uncomfortable but also not comfortable. In the last 6 days, I have recognised it sooner and I have had markedly less aches and pains since.

What I love about this (for me) new-found technique, is that I now notice my body as much when I am inactive, as when I am actively using it. Do I still slouch on the sofa? Yes. Have I still gotten myself into uncomfortable positions? Yes. But, and this is the transformative element for me, if I have chosen to remain in them, due to laziness, I have done so knowingly and those times have been rare. It has mostly gone against the grain to be in any position that’s not good for my body when I am so acutely aware of it.

Self care. Simple. Sorted…or at least started!

Highly recommended, but beware the rabbit hole!

Say ‘Ta-ra’ to the to-do-list   

Say ‘Ta-ra’ to the to-do list!

I found myself being very self critical today for my lack of energy and general lust for achieving. I realised after speaking with a good friend (thank you internet calls!) that I’ve essentially dealt with all this strife by throwing myself into aiming for a superhuman version of myself: all the fitness goals, language improvements, reels of music, jumpers finished (knitting!) alongside all the other things fun, and otherwise, that I feel should be achieved.

Freelancers are often highly motivated, and overworked. Now, without work, I wonder how many have set lists of things to do that spark excitement, rather than ‘I’d be disappointed if I didn’t use this time for x, y or z’. It’s not a race. Singers: We do not have to be fluent in 3 more languages, a full-blown yogi and have learnt all the operatic roles in our repertoire when the theatres open again. We are undoubtedly faced with restrictions at the moment, and a deep-seated concern for the health of loved-ones, and what our world will look like post COV-19, but there is still plenty of room for goals that excite us.

Perhaps the above list got you excited, and that’s awesome. Personally, I had reacted to this situation by mourning the lost work and debut, then throwing myself into a ridiculously long list of #everything I’ve ever thought would be cool to know and master – 4 days in and I was comfort eating and berating myself for lacking energy and not ticking off enough of my list
Now, more than ever, we should be looking long-term and taking the pressure off of the daily to-do list. Like the grandfather clock said to his protogé – just focus on the next tick, forget how many are ahead of you

I have now formed two lists of ideas, rather than chores. The first, consists of quarantine specific plans/projects and the other is longer-term goals which I plan to stick to post-COVID. I have found it much more rewarding, and motivating, to do items on the long-term list and the quarantine-only projects have become similar to stay-cation plans.

Thanks to Steven Isserlis and Matthew Rose on Twitter, I have been accompanied by new music, or new versions of classical pieces, on my afternoon tea break each day – ok, I take more than one tea-break a day, but I hope this will be a habit I keep up.

Singing-wise, I was doing alright for the last few days; music I’m working on was running through my head and I was doing some solid practice most days. After a coaching yesterday, via Skype, I was reminded of my spiral last time I had a work drought (Time to take stock)
It was confronting to sing for someone new over Skype, but thrilling to be working on the music. My energy levels soared and today was far more productive than previous days. No doubt the energy levels will waver, but if I can keep up just half of the planned ‘long-term’ additions, I’ll be happy.

Turn right at the sex shop and other audition glamour

Turn right at the sex shop

Nothing can bring one down a peg or two like an audition! Concerts? Shows? Often greeted by applause(!) and audiences to a sum of more than 5. Auditions, on the other hand, vary from small carpeted rooms in the middle of nowhere with dodgy pianos, pianists, and non existent warm-up facilities, all the way to main-stage dreams with your own dressing room, clearly outlined schedule and steward to escort you from dressing-room to stage.

I once found myself driving 6 hours to a small village in Northern Germany. The audition was for a summer season of work, and a winter tour. Multiple roles suited my voice in their programme and I was sent a time-slot, address and information as to the venue’s facilities. All seemed rather professional. What I found, upon arrival, were more than 100 singers, and at least 20 with the same time-slot. There would be no rehearsal with a pianist, and warm-up rooms were of course oversubscribed! Each singer was paying 20€ to sing. There were certainly a few others who stayed purely because they’d made so much effort getting there. Feedback had been promised, and turned out to be a horrifying ‘everyone back in to the room that sang in the last hour’ for a collective feedback session. A soprano I had bonded with, was offered a role on the spot. Alas, we found out before leaving the venue that others had also been offered the same roles in previous feedback sessions, and they weren’t looking to double cast!

With social media, it is becoming easier to suss out how serious companies are as we no longer have to rely on their websites. Since last year, I have had an agent and the level of auditions I have experienced since then, have also been, joyfully, better, and mostly at established houses. Auditions in theatres will vary in their organisation/facilities and general ambiance but there are those niche auditions we’ve all found ourselves at where none of the above exist, let alone being non-ideal.

Yesterday, I travelled for 7 hours for an audition that lasted less than 6 mins. Then travelled home for another 5. That would be a rubbish day, even if the audition went well.

Getting to the audition had even been an adventure. I have been to this town, and theatre, before but somehow took a wrong turn so I asked for directions. The answer was direct, but alas, not something I understood. I asked him to repeat and he said sex shop, I was sure. Could that be right? Was I the butt of a joke?! He is joined by a couple of friends. Joy. The direction ‘right at the sex shop’ is repeated and seems like the only directions I shall be offered. Convinced I heard wrong, I thank him and carry on up the road – completely void of shop fronts or landmarks until lo and behold; a sex shop. I turn right and what do you know, the theatre is at the end of that street. I had heard correctly, and I wager, provided some mirth for those chaps.

Reader: we had the theatre facilities for warming up but then had a 10 minute walk to the audition venue….it was too cold for snow. It sucked/I sucked/I broke one of my audition rules. They had very specific requests for repertoire, which meant I had the operetta aria of the character I was auditioning for (very character-heavy, not a beauty to sing) and a drunken song that I’ve been singing in the new year concerts. It is a perfect encore: I laugh more than I sing, but it really is not a piece of vocal prowess. Imagine the joy of such a piece in an audition. 4 stony faces. Pianist doesn’t know it. One single guffaw about 2 minutes in, and one panelist looking resolutely disgusted. The. Entire. Time.

The rule broken? Always start with a piece you want to sing. Neither piece could show off any vocal prowess or technique and I therefore couldn’t make myself believe that I wasn’t wasting all of our time by my being there. Was it the worst audition I’ve ever done? Possibly. Was it an OK audition for the role on offer? Yes, but that didn’t help me yesterday as I was so mortified.

Having sung this drunken song to big audiences, with symphony orchestra in the past weeks, I was as prepared as possible but it was still a hideous feeling. I did maintain my wish to portray the character, but there was no musical expertise to be shared :-/ not a nice feeling. Still, it’s an anecdote I shan’t forget.

Cornelia calling…

Cornelia calling

I’ve just had the most intense but incredible 9 days. I got a call to jump in to a Händel production with a German translation written especially for it: so no recordings to assist the speed learning of words but plenty in Italian so I could get to know the music.
I’ve been through some ups and downs with my German, or rather, confidence in my German and this would be quite the feat if I pulled it off.

Spoiler: the show was last night and it went without a hitch 😉

What does it mean when someone jumps in? In Bern earlier this year, the original singer was well enough to walk her role, and the opera is seldom performed (2 productions in the last 100 years) so no other singer knew the role already. With only 40 hours notice, it wasn’t expected that I learn the hour and a half of music (that’s just where I was singing) off-copy with the staging, so I sang from the front corner of the stage, with music.

This time, no other singer knew the German version of the text and the singer wasn’t available to walk the part but I had 9 days – plenty of time – to learn it all!

Day 1: Sat evening, 9pm Agent calls: can you jump in next Sunday/are you free this week to speed learn it. Yes.

Day 2: Sunday morning: Sent a digital score, and a video recording of the dress rehearsal. Theatres tend to record all new productions in a dress rehearsal to keep on Archive for later revivals or situations such as mine. It is rarely a good quality recording, either audibly or visually because it is purely for the who is on stage/where and when questions. Alas, there had been significant changes to the score, some different cuts etc since the dress rehearsal. This is very unusual, so I didn’t trust that I had the right score.
Sunday evening: Concert 2 hours drive away. New music on in the car, both ways and most relaxed I’ve felt in a concert for ages, due to how well I knew the music I was performing!!

Day 3: Midday, new version of digital score – all my arias are in there this time (hoorah!). I’m only 3 hours away from the theatre so I travel up that evening.

Day 4: To sort out all other issues, and to help me learn the role, the theatre put me up in a hotel and organised rehearsals space with the harpsichord player the – the most crucial of people in this situation, as they accompany the recitatives (quasi speech parts) in the opera. After 6 hours together, I had clarified all the odds and ends previously unclear, and run the whole of my role through twice.
I tried my costume on, and shoes – very importantly, before being fitted for the wig. A gorgeous Marilyn Monroe-esque number.
Now it was just up to me to learn my music.

A trip to the UK for 2 days didn’t help, especially as it was packed full but I did squeeze a lesson in with my teacher in person, a much needed boost. The role’s music is filled with beautiful, slow phrases whereas I feel much more at home amidst crazy runs of quick notes. As with every role to date, it has prompted me to discover new facets to my voice but also develop as a performer.

Day 6: Back in Germany and straight to Halle.

Day 7: rehearsals with assistant director and available cast members. The role of Cornelia has a tough old time in this production – sexually assaulted multiple times. I was very grateful that I was able to rehearse the blocking with the colleague involved, and ahead of the Showday. There are always tricks to violence on stage and it’s never taken lightly by theatres but 2 of the cast members were flying in for the show and wouldn’t have been able to rehearse ahead of the Showday, hence my gratitude that my ‘attacker’ is based in Halle and we could rehearse in advance.

Day 8: Morning and afternoon off to soak up all the information from the last 2 days and run my ‘track’ in my mind.
I woke up feeling very anxious, so I create ‘Show notes’ for myself detailing every entrance, stage direction, and lyric until I leave stage and note how long off stage I have. Props/costume changes etc are all included. This sort of detail is vital for me to maintain my calm during the show. A classic case of knowing what I need in order to to the job the best I can.
Evening: meet with the conductor and run as much of my music as possible. Another native German, so I was completely thrilled that he was so positive about my pronunciation and that he was so surprised how recently I had met the score.

Day 9: Showday. I wake up entirely ready and thrilled to be showcasing all this hard work amidst such lovely colleagues.

Day 10: arrive home and sleep for 12 hours!!!

Silly squirrel

Silly squirrel

Double trouble

Double trouble

When there are two of of you…

Experiences vary a lot depending on our working relationship with colleagues, director and conductor but with a double cast* or covering**, there are a few things we can do to ensure that our version of a role is as good as possible against the odds.

Foremost: be prepared. This should go without saying, but we all respond well to pressure so if you know that you’re not going to be singing in rehearsals, pretend that you are. Be prepared to sing the role at EVERY rehearsal; whether covering or double cast, this can lead to extra rehearsal for you and be a brilliant opportunity to shine. It may be tough to sit through a rehearsal not getting to sing when you’re mentally prepared to but that’s far easier to chew on than failing to take your moment.

PLAY: Remind yourself as often as is necessary that you will be different versions of the character, albeit within the direction that is required. This is particularly relevant in double casting but also as a cover. If you can let go of the competitive element, or fear of not being as good as the ‘real’ cast you will be far quicker to learn, explore, share, and develop the role.

PAY ATTENTION: There’s not enough rehearsal time for second-guessing or doubting or not paying attention to your role when it is being rehearsed. Even if there was enough time to rehearse two separate casts, why would you want to repeat when you could be developing or embellishing what has already been found? There is a big difference between having ideas and simply not knowing what has already been tried.
If you’re covering, do not expect a rehearsal dedicated to you trying the role. Most theatres will organise a rehearsal for covers with the assistant director and perhaps relevant cast members but your colleagues will not thank you if you come unprepared. The basics (entrance/exits/blocking/intentions/subtext) should all be clear from rehearsals you have watched and if something is unclear, ASK.

TAKE NOTES: It can seem easy to remember at the time but take notes throughout the rehearsal. Attention to detail pays off and you are caring for your future-self when you come back to this scene in 5 days time. I use small sticky notes (different colours for different characters!) Rather than writing in my score as they can be easily moved around, added to, or replaced. I also keep a note of queries I have so that I can approach the director/assistant at a later date. Asking at the time is usually possible, and even encouraged, but that’s very dependent on your colleagues.

Don’t be shy: If you’re double cast and both at rehearsals, don’t be shy to be the first one to have a go at the staging. If the division of rehearsals is left to the artists to decide, this can get tricky and dependant on the relationship you have with your double. The more experience you have, the better you know what you need and hopefully that can be accommodated. I was very lucky with my ‘double’ in this show. We were both open to sharing the rehearsals and were both attentive when the other was rehearsing. I can not overstate this: if you do not watch your counterpart when they are rehearsing, it not only wastes time and energy of your colleagues but it also screams of insecurity. By watching the other version of your role, you can pick up tips that may improve your version, or be able to see things that don’t work so well. The logistics of the direction normally has to stay the same for the interaction with other characters BUT the freedom within that to develop your own version of the character rests entirely on having the time to do that. If you are busy learning the ‘what, when, why’s’ in your rehearsal time then you are losing valuable hours to play with your role and your colleagues. Your version of the role will NEVER be diminished by you watching another version.

2 in 1: It is the second time that I have been cast to play two different roles in a production: Carmen and Mercedes, and now Isabella and Zulma. I have found both experiences to be thrilling but it takes a LOT of organisation and practise in your own time.

Separating the roles: Further along in rehearsals, try to think about one character at a time. If staging changes for the other role, or something significant occurs, of course take note but if you don’t have your character’s journey solid in your mind, this can lead to disaster.

Do your best: It is an odd feeling to be on stage at the same time as the person you share a role with (while playing a different role) and can be exhausting to be aware of staging for two characters when they have a lot of scenes together. Be kind to yourself. If you are doing your best, and being attentive, your colleagues and the director will be happy to assist when you need it and it is ok to ask for help. In my experience, people only begrudge helping if they feel you haven’t done your share of the work.

Variety is the spice of life: I know that I pick up staging very quickly so I made the decision early on (once checking with director and colleaugues) that I would not alternate with the Zulma in rehearsals, in favour of focusing on the character creation of Isabella. Each time I wasn’t playing Isabella, I was therefore taking notes on both roles. I genuinely enjoyed creating this Isabella alongside the other mezzo and two tenors (also double cast). What can be very obvious to one human, does not necessarily come naturally to the next and that can lead to some really interesting questions and resolutions that otherwise wouldn’t have come about. Particularly with Rossini, the musical embellishments differ greatly between singers and that became a wonderful and constant reminder that our versions were intrinsically different amidst the same staging. Just as with the director, the conductor may not have time to work specifically with you on the entire piece (ensembles, for example, may not get repeated in a sitz). Hear every request from the conductor as if it is for you. If he/she is forced to repeat themselves, you are wasting everyone#s time.

Do your homework: Once we started runs, I wrote my Zulma ‘track’ out on paper, mainly from the sticky notes protruding from the score at the points she does something that wasn’t to do with her music. With small roles it is very often the case that your role becomes bigger in terms of action, which can be great but you have to know ALL the music. I always aim to have a feel for the whole piece before rehearsals but with cuts/different intervals this can still need attention and because I had very little rehearsal hours as Zulma under my belt, I needed to solidify what my journey was.

Help yourself: As singing actors, we learn staging, lyrics and music relatively quickly but when you need to learn staging or action that has nothing to do with an emotional journey, it can be hard to remember. Practise is always the key but if you fear that you will need prompts, take the time to figure out where they could happen. Are you offstage at any point and able to have a prompt sheet for the next onstage section ready for you in the wings? Along with what you say and what you do, always make note of which props you need each time you enter/exit. In our current production, the green room and makeup room are ‘on-stage’ so the time actually offstage was dramatically cut. This meant that in my first entrance as Zulma, I needed props with me that I wouldn’t use until 30 minutes later but I don’t leave stage in that time. Without my track sheet, I may not have remembered that for my first run, and my first run as Zulma was the open dress rehearsal!

Above all, covering and double-casting are wonderful opportunities to learn from others. If you come to rehearsals as prepared as you should be, then your version of the character will only benefit from extra input. We each move around in, see, and hear the world differently to the next person and discovering the nuances that are brought to a character through these differences can result in huge developments for us as artists. Play, play, play!

*double cast – often due to an intense performance schedule two casts will be hired, at least of the biggest roles

**cover – can mean you will have a show but not always. You are being paid to be ready to sing the role, if needed

When I see you

When I see you

I am emotionally drained after #uglycrying throughout @Whentheyseeus but I can not recommend it enough. Essential viewing.

I am grateful that such stories are hitting the ‘mainstream’. Was it easy to watch? Hell no. Did I want to distance myself from their stories? Of course. Was it beautifully made and directed so that I had no doubt who I was rooting for or who the bad guys were? Yes. Is that ok? Yes. It happens in every good piece of art. It is what makes us take unlikely journeys and see them through the eyes of people we may not otherwise come into contact with. Is the balance of representation in film/theatre/tv right? No. We have a loooong way to go, but if you seek to educate yourself, these stories are starting to be told by great directors/writers/actors and producers.

This particular work (as with 13th and Selma) is all the more brutal and hard to swallow because it is based on real events. If the victim had been a POC or the boys had not been black and brown Harlem teens, they WOULD NOT have had their teen years ripped away from them and the police and press WOULD NOT have reacted as they did.

On a conscious level, I do not discriminate by skin colour but I am certain that my subconscious needs some attention.
@Gladwell (author of ‘Blink’) argues that intuitive judgement is developed by experience, training and knowledge but prejudice can, and does, operate on an unconscious level. These prejudices can be overcome through constant training.
And so I spent my evening off watching this heart-wrenching film from @avaduvernay as much to soak up the unjust treatment of the #centralparkfive as I did to want to let infiltrate the wrongdoings of white people that my subconscious may otherwise believe to be more trustworthy.

Next morning: I took time out of practising today in order to finish their story as I could only get through the first 2 parts last night. As a musician, I have been lucky enough to come into contact with people, places and culture that I otherwise may not have. I love that my job offers me this, but I still have a lot of work to do.
I believe in the human race and that love is more powerful than hate but unless we constantly strive to re-educate our societal prejudices, we remain closed off to some individuals we come across because we instinctively place them in boxes. We each have something to teach and plenty to learn. May my ears, eyes and heart be open so that I can re-educate my subconscious prejudices. The work starts with ourselves and I am grateful that this story, and others like it are being heard. In a world so overflowing with hate speech, slogans, and fear, we MUST educate ourselves and spread the love.
#Equality #Education #Womeninfilm #Injustice #race #bias

I will make it through this retelling of their story – knowingly using an evening off in order to ensure that I have seen, and processed, this version of the events. I refuse to look away in the hope that it helps to educate my psyche.

It is fantastic that Netflix is championing @Whentheyseeus and bringing such films into the mainstream.

Audition kit

Audition kit

I like to visualise every performance, including auditions, as it helps me to avoid some personal traps that I’ve fallen into. It can be challenging to put your best version across (vocally and physically) with a time limit, new spaces, and a pianist you’ve never met. Mental preparation is key. You have less than 10 mins, usually, to show what you are capable of.

Here’s what I do to make audition experiences as good as possible REGARDLESS of the thought put in by the company auditioning:

Know the music so well that it could be accompanied by 5 year olds. I am not slagging off pianists. They are often chucked in with no notice, varying degrees of sight-reading ability/experience of singer repertoire. If you know your music well enough to not be put off, then you stand more of a chance of making music.
Turn up at least an hour before the audition time – check ahead if at a theatre, as sometimes rehearsal time is offered with pianists hours before your slot.

Ask to see the running-order so you can guess-timate what time you will sing but DO NOT expect any audition day to run like clockwork. The order often gets altered greatly as everyone always has a train to catch, so don’t be afraid to speak up if you can’t switch with the Italian soprano who is down to sing 5 hours later.

Be determined to make music, and share yourself with your ‘audience’ of panellists. It is so easy to get distracted by thoughts of technique, analysing the faces (when visible) of your panel, or wondering why your right leg seems to be shorter than your left. If you are having to sing to people not very far away, and that are entirely visible to you, try and imagine they are friends of the family, and remember that very few audition panellists know what their faces do. They probably don’t realise that they are scowling.

Find your space: it can be an entire dressing room in some theatres but a corner or a chair in a shared space will do, where you can cut out everyone else and focus on what you are doing there. You want to show as many people as possible your interpretation of your aria. Do not compare your voice with the others you can hear warming up or auditioning ahead of you. A day of mezzos, all singing the same repertoire for a fest contract brought me about as close as I’ve come to walking out before singing BUT it was also my first audiiton on a main stage, so I told myself it was simply an opportunity for me to sing my audition repertoire on this awesome stage. I got a call-back.

Handel-ling the situation

Handel-ling the situation

I have had a very exciting, sleepless weekend in Switzerland. I jumped in with 48hrs notice (6 of which were spent getting there) to sing the title role in Handel’s Lotario on the main stage in Bern. Clang. I had never heard of the opera before, but after reviewing the 5 arias, I saw it sat at a comfortable area in my voice and said yes. Cue 2 hours to pack while downloading the only existing recording onto my phone and uploading the score onto my tablet – the joys of modern technology.

I was already on the second leg of my train journey when the Wi-Fi became hopeless and my brain needed a little breather from the maniacal speed learning. I decided to visit the theatre’s website and learn a little about who I was about to be working with. It’s a really good job I didn’t do that before agreeing to the jump-in, as I realised I was to be working with a conductor and singers that were all a bit of a big deal. The conductor, in particular, was someone I had come across before I should have let anyone hear me. This was naturally a lovely opportunity to rectify that impression but the demon on my shoulder was already laughing at the fool I was going to make of myself.
My name is already on the cast list for the show, so no backing out now.
I message R with the recent info (I’m in a silent carriage) and his response confuses me. He is correct that it is a small world for me to have come across a conductor I already know but the further back and forths suggest that he has missed something vital. It turns out, he thought I meant the train conductor, rather than the orchestral conductor for an hour of our WhatsApp chat. Muggles!

I was in Bern for less than 48hrs but I managed 4 hours sleep in total. Only I could be confronted with the most stressful of jump-ins (to date!) amidst the 5 days of the year that Bern hosts carnival. Drums, trumpets, singing, but mostly drums and brass, were my lullabies into 4am both nights. One particularly unforgivable trumpeter came back along at 6am the first morning with his own solo rendition of something loud and awful.

Pretty hilarious in hindsight, and the ‘simply the best‘ rendition at 5am was a wonderful confidence boost, albeit the reason for not getting the sleep so desperately needed. I had spent 9 hours at the theatre learning the title role of a Handel opera and was to debut it the next day.

On 4 hours sleep over 2 nights, not to mention the first jump-in I’d ever done, I hadn’t had chance to stop and think about what a big deal for me this all was. It all came to a head an hour before the show, as I called R and had a mini melt-down. Fully aware of the serenade from the night before, he reiterated that I was ‘simply the best’ person for the job at that moment: No-one else knew the bloomin’ music, for a start! – keeping it real 🙂

I feel immensely proud of the performance, and the audience were incredibly appreciative and supportive. The cast and crew are all amazing, and were so kind to me. My greatest fear was that I would make an error that threw them off, but after my first 20mins of recit and the first aria, I found myself even enjoying myself and adding improvisational vocal decorations (very much expected in this type of music, but usually also very much rehearsed!). How they pack out a theatre during carnival, I don’t know, but it was brilliant. And I’m happy to say that even the duet between myself (front left corner of the stage) and the soprano – centre stage, but 2 metres higher up on scaffolding – was a success!