After a wonderful time here last year in Iford’s gorgeous productions of La bohème, I’m back for what stands to be another beautiful piece by the Maestro Puccini – Madama Butterfly under the direction of Bruno Ravella and the baton of Thomas Blunt. This time, my role is that much more of a selfish fool than Rodolfo, that he borders on villainous – it is of course, Lieutenant Franklin Benjamin Pinkerton (boo hiss!). It’s a bizarre thing – Puccini wrote some beautiful music for tenors and quite often, whilst singing this glorious music, we are, in fact, quite inglorious in nature! Yes, we might tug at the heartstrings at times to get the girl but actually, the tenor, certainly in this piece, is definitely NOT the nice guy! Concurrent to Iford rehearsals, I am also performing at Grange Park Opera in their production of Gounod’s Romèo et Juliette as Tybalt – who is ALSO a bad guy! Is there a trend developing?! #tenorbadboysclub
We descend on a rehearsal venue in Kennington (the same one that many other opera companies use) and promptly sing through the whole piece with the conductor (and a wonderful repetiteur, who seems as if he has 15 fingers, for the first few pages of the score are fiendishly difficult and swift in tempo yet he makes it sound easy). It often is the first opportunity that a singer has to sing the piece with other real life singers (!) rather just singing along to a recording and getting coached on your bits with your chosen teacher. It is also, of course, an opportunity to meet (and hear!) the rest of the cast that is going to put the show together. I’m happy to say, that we have a lovely cast! Everyone seems really enthusiastic about putting on the show and the design of the show within the cloister is going to be something to behold. The model box showing of the set is always an exciting moment, where your imagination starts to run wild. We then begin to put the show on its feet and get the music off the page and into the world we are creating. This has been made slightly difficult personally by work-shopping a different translation only the week before but that will pass, I hope!
Of course, it would be remiss of me to mention that this will be the last full production that the cloister sees in Iford’s colourful history. The gut-wrenching off-stage cry of “Butterfly” at the end of the opera will be the last voice sung into that wonderful space – it has seen such theatrics and drama in its rich 20 odd year history, I only hope we do it justice. So, here’s to the rehearsal period. Here’s to the cloister. Here’s to Madame Butterfly. And here we go!