This year, I was fortunate enough to be involved in two sets of opera scenes at the RNCM: the first, as Blanche de la Force in Poulenc Dialogues des Carmélites (which you can read about here); the second, as Suzel in Mascagni L’amico Fritz.
This second set of scenes took place in June, involving fellow first-year postgraduates in a range of works spanning several centuries. We were directed by Garth Bardsley, with conductor Simon Robertshaw and piano accompaniment from Robin Humphreys. Although I had worked with Garth previously on the Poulenc, it was my first time working with Simon and Robin and with tenor Michael Gibson, who was playing Fritz. We received thorough language coaching from Antonia Sotgiu prior to production rehearsals – which involved some fun discussions about Mascagni’s slightly made-up words…
The opera was written by Mascagni in the late 1800s and, whilst it hasn’t enjoyed the success of Cavalleria rusticana, it is a beautiful work with captivating echoes of folk music. We performed the well-known “Cherry duet”, in which Suzel, a young farmhand, and Fritz, a wealthy landowner, realise their love for one another through a conversation about spring. The costumes were perfect for the pastoral setting – and we were even able to eat real cherries on stage!
The Opera Theatre was really full, with a buzzing atmosphere. We were able to catch snippets of the other scenes – which on that night were Menotti The Old Maid and the Thief, Massenet Werther, Rossini Cenerentola and Korngold Die tode Stadt – however, many of us had already gone along to watch dress rehearsals, so we could see the scenes in their entirety.
It was a pleasure to work with all involved and a brilliant experience to explore something so different from Dialogues. Mascagni’s music was a joy to perform and I fell in love with the innocent, nature-loving character of Suzel – as well as her “boho” outfit. Many thanks to all those who came to see us – and congratulations to the other singers and teams on their fantastic scenes!