Stage-Write blog Festival and Tour 2013
Stage-Write: The next generation
Thomasin Trezise of the Glyndebourne chorus is our intrepid backstage blogger.
Thomasin as a Hen (centre) in The Cunning Little Vixen at Festival 2012
I’m back and blogging with a vengeance.
2013 has been a special year, not least because it was the year that Vladimir Jurowski left. His last opera as Musical Director was the new production of Ariadne auf Naxos. It’s not an opera I know particularly well but I thoroughly enjoyed his interpretation. There was such a long held crescendo in Act 2 that the hairs on my arms stood up. Then there was his farewell concert.
It felt very special to be involved in a magical performance of Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Thomasin pictured front row, second from left). He chose this because he felt his time at Glyndebourne had been just that - one long Midsummer dream. It was his usual supremely well-controlled performance and a huge pleasure to be led by him one final time. He gave way to a moment of real emotion at the end, as did we all. I’ve not known another Musical Director here; his first year was also my first year. All I can say is that there are some very big shoes to fill.
And now we’re already well into the 2013 Tour. We’ve already visited Woking, Norwich and Canterbury and Milton Keynes and last week we were back to base for Encore Week, Glyndebourne’s week for children, family and friends and a week that aimed to develop Glyndebourne’s next generation of opera lovers – whatever their age.
Many of us in the chorus are involved in just one opera this year, L’elisir d’amore, which feels very strange. It means that, in most venues, we have only two performances on Wednesday and Saturday. For me, it was a very tough decision whether or not to stay the whole week in Norwich. In the end I stayed the two nights of the shows. This seemed like a good compromise, and I couldn’t have faced the four hour drive home, having driven there and done the show. L’elisir is quite a busy show for us, which I enjoy. Not too long sitting in the dressing room. I’m very fond of Annabel Arden’s warm, fun production. It allows freedom within a firm structure.
Quite a contrast to last year’s tour, which, for several of the ladies chorus focused on knitting. I don’t know how well you know Le nozze di Figaro, but there isn’t much chorus in it. In fact there was a gap of around 90 minutes in the middle. Now that is a lot of knitting time. I have always knitted, and I tend to get the urge in the autumn. Apart from one other seasoned expert, I was on my own, clicking away in the corner of the dressing room. I gradually started to attract disciples. Some had learnt a bit of knitting, some complete beginners. Thanks to Figaro, garment after garment was produced. From snoods (the favourite) to wrist warmers. I was SO proud of them! We had some moments; the hysteria that a dropped stitch can produce would surprise you. And how I used to dread giving the news that there was nothing for it but undo it all and start again. But we came through.
Family and friends! I imagine, if you knew someone in the Glyndebourne chorus, chances are, your Christmas present last year was made of wool.
Oh dear, what can the matter be…?
Well hello everyone!
I do hope you have all had a good winter and are not too frustrated with the fits and starts Spring we’re having.
I must apologise for not having started my blog sooner. I suppose I’ve been waiting for something to happen. And, my goodness, it has!
Today (Sunday) I had the privilage of singing in a Study Day, run by the Education department. It was a full day for the audience; they were treated to Strauss in the morning, by way of an introduction to this year’s new production of Ariadne auf Naxos and we entertained them with ‘Phaedre in Words and Music’ in the afternoon (as an intro to the new production of Hippolyte et Aricie).
Phaedre is, of course, married to King Theseus and has the misfortune to fall in love with his son Hippolyte. He is in love with Aricie and does not reciprocate her feelings. Bummer. Anyhoo it consisted of literary passages interspersed with music. I sang three of Phaedre’s arias from the Rameau and ended with the final section of Britten’s amazing cantata ‘Phaedre’, his final vocal work.
Well, it was all going terribly well. I arrived in plenty of time to rehearse both the Rameau (with the very lovely and clever Luke Green) and the Britten with beautiful, talented Helen Collier. It was about half an hour before we were due to start, and I thought I’d nip to the loo one last time. The nearest one is a single disabled toilet just before you go in to the Peter Hall Room (one of our huge rehearsal spaces). Business over, I quickly checked myself out in the mirror and went to unlock the door. Something seemed to slip as I turned the lock but I thought nothing of it. I turned it again but nothing happened. The door wouldn’t open.
At first, I chuckled a bit and thought ‘How ridiculous, this sort of thing doesn’t really happen!’ I wiggled, turned, pushed and pulled both the lock and the door handle. Nothing. At this point I still believed I would get out any moment, that someone would come along, also needing the loo, and simply let me out. After a few more minutes of lock manipulation (and I was getting a bit rougher with it by now) I started to have doubts. Glyndebourne can be a very quiet place on a Sunday before the performances have started. There were very few people in the building. I started to be considerably less calm. I shouted out a few times. ‘ Help! Help!’ I actually kept this up for quite a while until the thought that I had to sing stopped me. I raised my voice to a more operatic and safer pitch until I realised that there was no urgency to the sound: Noone was going to come running at the sound of someone singing at Glyndebourne. Then I noticed a loose panel on the wall, which gave access to pipes and things. I used this to start banging, what seemed very loudly, on the very solid, steel door. The next hour saw me alternating between flurries of banging and shouting activity and sitting rather glumly on the lav, wondering if it would be possible to get any sleep on the concrete floor, should it come to it. I heard a call over the tannoy at 3.55pm, the time were due on; ‘Would Thomasin Trezise please come to the Ebert Room’, and laughed grimly to myself. I would…..
Finally, I heard footsteps and voices and put my trusty panel to work. They’d found me! It took two strong men and various bits of equipment a good 15 minutes to free me. But free I was. I gave them both a big hug and tried to retrieve some of the dignity I needed to be Phaedre, that powerful, charismatic woman. Meanwhile, back in the Ebert room they’d changed the running order of the afternoon, so that, by the time I arrived, they’d had all the readings and were well stuck in to the question and answers section. Finally we performed all the pieces one after the other, as a mini recital. Of course, I started with ‘Oh dear, what can the matter be?’, but I think they’d already been singing that.
So, I’d like to thank the two crew members who let me out, the whole of the Education Department for being so kind, and the lovely members of the audience who were so understanding and good-humoured about it all.
It wasn’t my best performance, but do you know, it wasn’t half bad.