Mon 1 Jan 2018 @ 16:09
Mon 1 Jan 2018 @ 15:36
Thu 14 Dec 2017 @ 18:00
Fri 20 Oct 2017 @ 9:20
Wed 27 Sep 2017 @ 10:58
Audition Oracle – Mon 1 Jan 2018 @ 16:09
Prix du préparation des Chanteurs/ses 2018
Nous sommes très heureux d’annoncer que notre programme des bourses est élargi! Chaque mois de l’an prochain, un/e chanteur/se recevra un prix d'une valeur du £300 pour soutenir leurs préparations et perfectionnement dans l’art du chant.
On peut utiliser une bourse pour des choses diverses, incluant, mais pas limité, à:
- leçons/entraînements de préparation pour présentations spécifique
- Frais de voyage pour aller à une audition spécifique
- Développement d'une marque personnalisée – site internet/frais de dessin etc.
- Réaliser des représentations et spectacles – pour soi-même ou pour offrir des opportunités aux autres
- Créer des oeuvres nouvelles
Pour se candidater, cliquez sur le lien, avec curriculum et autres matériels pour soutenir votre candidature.
On doit aussi écrire une lettre de motivation, spécifiant:
- l’utilisation proposée de la bourse. Ce doit être spécifique, avec des devis des sociétés/des articles, le cas échéant. Par exemple:
- Six leçons à £50, avec …. = £300
- Achat d’enregistreur de la voix @ £££s (avec lien à votre produit de choix)
- Devis pour services d’impression (cartes professionnelles, affiches etc.)
La date limite pour la première bourse de l’an est le 31 janvier 2018. Le/le chanteur/se sélection/e sera annoncé le 5 février 2018.
- Les bourses sont ouverts aux chanteurs/ses classiques, lyriques et chorales qui sont membres ‘premiums’ (normales) de l’audition Oracle
- Les propositions doivent être spécifique à une projette concrète/quantifiable, incluant des devis en cas échéant.
- Chanteurs/ses doivent avoir plus que 18 ans d’âge. Il n’y a pas une limite supérieure d’Âge.
- Chanteurs/ses sélectionnés doivent écrire un court ‘blog’ sur l’utilisation de la bourse, au moment d’émission du facture, et donner à l’audition Oracle leur permission de l’utiliser, avec une image appropriée.
- Dans le cours d’un an, 12 bourses (chacune de valeur £300) seraient offerts.
- L’annonce de chaque bourse sera faite le premier lundi du chaque mois, la première annonce sera faite le 5 février 2018
- Des demandes d’inscription doivent être soumis avant le dernier jour du mois précédent. Le premier date limite sera le 31 janvier 2018.
- Des candidatures seraient tenues fiches. Du temps à temps, une bourse peut être récompensée quelques mois après la soumission de la proposition.
- Il est permis de faire une demande nouvelle chaque mois, et c'est encouragé.
- Si vous n’êtes pas déjà membre de l’audition Oracles, vous pouvez l’essai sans frais et sans engagement, pour 30 jours. www.auditionoracle.com
Vous êtes individuel, société ou entreprise qui veut soutenir un/e artiste ? Nous vous en prie d'écrire à Melanie à firstname.lastname@example.org pour demander comment vous pouvez entretenir dans ce projet. Peut-être vous êtes professeur, veut faire don d’un cours des leçons, dessinateur/trice qui peut aider avec une enveloppe de la marque personnalisée, ou vous avez un lieu de présentation pour offrir. Si vous avez une idée, et voulez aider, nous serions très contents de vous entendre.
Audition Oracle – Mon 1 Jan 2018 @ 15:36
2018 Singers’ Preparation Award
We are delighted to announce the extension of our award scheme! Every month for the next year, a singer will be chosen and awarded a prize of £300 worth of support to aid with their personal preparation and development as a classical singer.
Awards can be used for a variety of things, including but not limited to:
- Coachings/lessons to prepare for specific performances
- Travel costs to attend a specific audition
- Personal brand development – website/design costs etc.
- Mounting your own performances & productions
- Creating performance opportunities for others
- Creating new works
Please apply via the link, attaching your CV and any supporting promotional materials.
Please include a covering letter which specifies:
- How the award will be used. You must be specific and include quotes from companies or for products where possible. For example:-
- 6 x lessons with [teachers name] @£50 each = £300
- Purchase of voice recorder @£££s (be sure to include a link to your chosen product)
- Quote for printing costs for business cards, posters etc.
Please submit your application by the 31st of January 2018 for our first award, to be announced on the 5th of February 2018.
- The awards are open to classical, opera and choral singers who are premium (full) members of Audition Oracle.
- Proposals should be specific to a measurable/concrete goal, and include financial quotes where available.
- Singers must be over 18 years of age. There is no upper age limit.
- Those selected for an award will produce a short blog about what they have done/are doing with the award at the time of invoicing and give permission for this blog to be used along with an appropriate image by Audition Oracle.
- A total of 12 awards (each worth £300) will be made over a period of one year.
- Awards will be announced on the first Monday of each month beginning with Monday the 5th February 2018.
- Applications for the award must be submitted by the last day of the preceding month. The first deadline will be the 31st of January 2018
- Applications will be kept on file and on occasion, singers may receive an award some months after their original submission.
- Fresh applications can be made every month and are encouraged.
- Not yet a member of Audition Oracle? You can take a no obligation 30 day trial for free. www.auditionoracle.com.
Are you an individual, company or business who would like to offer support to an artist? Please do get in in touch with Melanie on email@example.com to see how you can become involved. Perhaps you are a teacher wanting to gift a set of lessons, a designer able to donate a personal branding package, or have a performance space to offer to artists. If you have an idea and want to help, we would love to hear from you!
Audition Oracle – Thu 14 Dec 2017 @ 18:00
This weeks guest blog post comes from Norwegian singer, actor and writer Patrick Egersborg.
I've been thinking a lot about the time when I really was trying to become that run-of-the-mill opera singer, and how I used my time and resources.
A lot of the time, I didn’t really do things that were beneficial to me or my development. I practised, yes, but ridden with stress and anxiousness, constantly worrying if I was doing things the right way. I spent huge amounts of energy comparing myself with others, constantly trying to box myself into a definition so that I could belong somewhere, such as dramatic bass-baritone, lyric baritone, basso cantante, and the list goes on. I always asked people for feedback and was constantly searching for approval. I felt nervous, vulnerable and unworthy, mixed with a good dose of self-pity and entitlement. The time that was left over, I spent trying to distract myself away from those feelings instead of dealing with them.
Being a diligent student who did his homework was part of this coping strategy, but that didn’t necessarily lead me closer to my ultimate goal.
I hadn’t dealt with my personal shit, as most 20 year olds haven’t, so I was always pushing the weight of my own history together with the burden of my ambitions in front of me. No time to deal with all the crap that was hiding beneath the surface, when my excuse was that I was busy becoming a successful opera singer, right?
Now, in comparison, having left pursuing being an opera singer as the goal of my career, I feel much more confident about each action I take, and I’m more conscious about what priorities I have to make when working with my different projects. Instead of being driven by an endless list of should’s and shouldn’ts, I’m driven by passion, my own commitment and inspiration.
I experience that my work with creating music theatre with my company and working towards becoming an artist without limitations to genre is effortless, filled with joy and motivation, and I don’t question every move I make. Must mean that this approach is a better fit for me. But it takes a lot of work and time to stay there, and it most definitely is work in progress.
If I could turn back time to when I was studying classical singing in Berlin, I wish that I allowed myself more time to grow.
Grow some patience, grow more compassionate with myself and give less of a fuck about it all. I wish that I didn’t hold myself back because I was scared of doing the wrong thing all the time, or being scared of people judging me. I should’ve gone head-first into everything, no matter what the task was, open to explore and learn new ways to approach my artistic identity, be it sung, spoken or written. I also wish I trusted my gut to a greater extent, so that I could be taking necessary and dramatic shifts in direction without hesitation. Instead, I was spending most my days following this recipe:
Work hard and practice a lot, with gritted teeth, lots of tension and unrealistic expectations. Oh, didn’t work? Blame myself or my teacher. Find a new teacher! Big revelation! Aha moment! Work hard and practice more, with gritted teeth and lots of expectation. It doesn’t work! I’m not the best opera singer in the world yet! Buhu! Big drama! Blame myself, my circumstances OR my teacher OR someone else. Find a new teacher! Big revelation! Aha moment! Development! NOW I must’ve become worthy enough be getting a lot of attention for it! Audition. Or performance. Didn’t get the feedback I expected. Buhu! Big drama! Blame myself, or my teacher, or my body, the shift in the earth’s magnetic field, or your star sign, or God, or mom. Or gluten!
… you get the drift.
So what should I have done instead? What could we do to break the pattern of failure? What did I have to go through before allowing myself to give up my dream?
You feel constricted, tense and stressed about your work or practice? Take a long break, or try to change approach by doing something totally opposite of what you’re doing now. It might be changing your practice routine, or playing something out of your comfort zone, or something you just love performing. Maybe you want to explore other creative qualities in yourself, or a maybe there’s an activity you want to try out? Do that! You never know what will come out of it.
If singing Turandot is what makes you happy, sing it!
If you feel like screaming through a whole Metallica album is what you need to get through your day, that might bring you further than punching in hours singing Schubert songs that you don’t feel connected with. Or maybe you could come out of your comfort zone by begin dancing, or doing karate?
My best friend, also a singer, began boxing in a period where her singing career looked uncertain. She was always amazing on stage and was an incredible singer, having already achieved a lot career wise in her mid-twenties. At this point she felt stuck and unrewarded in her work. She was even afraid she had peaked already. When she started boxing she changed into another person. She grew positive, motivated, clear minded and her focus shifted completely regarding her own career. She developed a greater sense of strength and confidence through her weekly boxing sessions. The clarity and direction she showed up with in her work with singing after having boxed for about a year, brought her a new sense of commitment, and ignited the new phase of her career. She is now thriving as a lyric soprano at a German A-house, singing the dream roles of her life.
You haven’t achieved any results from courses, your school or private lessons?
Talk with your teachers or those responsible for your program about it, express your expectations and frustrations. Check with yourself if you are really paying attention, if you are honestly taking advantage of the classes and lessons you’re taking. Are you mentally preparing to allow for the guidance your receiving to make an impact? Is there some resistance within you that you need to work with?
If all that doesn’t help; change teacher. You can even change or quit school! You don’t owe anyone your loyalty. Explore your skills on your own. You’re not an idiot. You probably know a lot about what you are doing, and building trust in yourself is just as important as the right guidance. To know when guidance is needed and from who is a something I’ve learnt to recognise with time. Finishing a degree doesn’t necessarily get you where you want to be, and just finishing a degree to get a piece of paper doesn’t serve anyone. You deserve to be guided properly, thrive and develop towards your goal. Most schools get paid to get you through your degree! How fucked up is that? The soprano I mentioned, among plenty of other artists, quit halfway through her degree because she auditioned and got a real job. If you can, why not try to get work already before you’re finished studying? You might be ready for it. If you’re not, you’ll learn a lot from trying.
Do you feel ready to start exposing yourself and get your career started, but don’t know where to start?
Then do those recordings, write to those agents and say yes to almost everything. Go to every audition, and make connections. You think it’s scary or feel scared of judgment? Then there probably is some work to left to be done in the personal department. We can’t allow our self to be censoring ourselves from succeeding;
If you truly want to be a successful artist, you need to show that you stand by what you have to offer.
So many singers have this dream about becoming an opera singer, but feel uncomfortable and insecure when taking the action needed to get closer to it. If you feel too insecure to take action and go through with the necessary steps, then there might be a discrepancy between your state of mind and your will to succeed. Just as much as it’s important to show off a good technique, musicality and ability to present and interpret, you need to know how to not give a fuck about what other people will think. You most definitely will be judged, but you can’t let the judgment of agents, artistic directors, your peers and colleagues hold you back. There is a whole world full of possibilities, especially in opera. To fail and to show imperfection over and over again with a pure belief in your own ability to succeed at some point is what will make or break your career, alongside hard work. To show up for yourself and show yourself off is a big part of the job.
For those who do have a career:
Are you feeling that you’re not going anywhere with your career, not singing the roles or repertoire you want to be doing? Or that you’re not getting enough attention from your agent, artistic direction or manager? Tell them, and if they don’t assist you towards your goals, the auditions or the jobs you want, change/fire your agent or manager! Maybe even quit your job? Quitting your job and giving up the safety net might open up for possibilities that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to pursue or allow to happen. Maybe there is time to take a risk and jump out into insecurity for a while? It might be scary, but passively letting your career happen to you rather than for you is not going to be satisfying in the long run.
Another good friend of mine who in recent years has soared to become an internationally acclaimed Wagner soprano is the perfect example of how making decisions based on your gut feeling can bring you where you want to be. She always followed her intention and acknowledges her needs, and has a perfect sense of what her value is. In the recent years of her career, she’s had relations to several agents that didn’t contribute enough to get her where she wanted to be. She had a clear gut feeling, telling her she didn’t get what she needed, and decided to move on no matter what the consequences were. She had a schedule that looked uncomfortably open, but she decided to go solo anyway, trusting that it would work out somehow. Now she is with an agent who is working to expose her to the employers who actually need her, and she has a full schedule, singing at major opera houses all over the world. This wouldn’t be possible for her, if she didn’t open up for it to happen by creating the space to be filled with better relations. She is an extremely gifted singer and has a strong stage presence, which obviously is of great help to her success, but without her ability to listen to her gut, she would not be able to demand the attention she deserved to expose her talent and get the jobs she wanted.
A great number of artists spend so much time considering what move to make, that they miss the train and stay stuck at the same station.
Always consulting your insecurities and blending it with other people’s opinion is not going to get you where you need to be. Holding on to relations that do not benefit you will occupy the space and energy needed for the relations you do want to establish. Clear space for the right things to happen.
I’ve tried all of the steps I could’ve taken to reach my goal, and didn’t succeed. That’s why I’m allowed to give up and go in another direction, and not pursue opera as they only way of expressing myself as an artist. Could I have tried again and done it with more confidence, knowledge and patience? Absolutely, but I’ve also learned that I’m not a person who can thrive constricted within the frames of the opera industry.
Until you’ve taken the necessary action to succeed, it’s going to be hard to allow yourself to give it up.
Not really trying and not really giving up is a painful limbo filled with uncertainty and self-loathing. Maybe the comfort of not really having tried is holding you back? It is scary to go where you can fail big time. It reveals your true path. That path might lead you out of opera, but it might also lead you to releasing your full potential.
Patrick Egersborg is a Norwegian singer, actor and writer from Trondheim, currently situated in Copenhagen.
If you have enjoyed this blog, please click Patrick Egersborg to read more of his work.
Patrick also produces and performs new music theatre with Operakollektivet in Oslo, a fringe music theatre company that aims at creating and performing relevant, accessible and contemporary music theatre for a younger audience. They premiered their opera “Team Player” by composer Gísli J. Grétarsson and playwright Oda Fiskum in Oslo 2016 to much acclaim, where Patrick performed the role of “Boss”. Patrick studied at Hochschule für Musik “Hanns Eisler” in Berlin and the National Opera Academy in Oslo (KhiO) where he graduated with a master degree in 2014, performing in the role of “Don Alfonso” in Mozarts Così fan tutte. He has appeared at the Soho Theatre and The Arcola Theatre in London as part of the Grimeborn Festival, as well as Opera Holland Park and Grange Park Opera in the UK. He has performed several opera roles with RingsakerOperaen, Opera Østfold, Åmot Operagard, Oslo Opera Festival and The Norwegian National Opera & Ballet, and has performed in numerous concerts with a variety of repertoire, spanning from church music to musical. For the Oslo Opera Festival he played the role of “Sam” in Bernsteins Trouble in Tahiti with the direction of Erlend Samnøen. He has recently taken a shift towards the musical repertoire, while still producing and performing as an opera singer in the shows of Operakollektivet. He is also the writer of the blog “Give Up Your Dream with Patrick Egersborg”, which is a blog about his move from pursuing opera as a career to following his own path into an expanded definition of his creative identity. At the moment he is developing two new shows, one that is the marriage between all his areas of interest, and one about the norwegian welfare system with Operakollektivet.
Audition Oracle – Fri 20 Oct 2017 @ 9:20
This week Audition Oracle have been talking to baritone Roderick Williams OBE about opera, art song, composition and the importance of preparation.
AO: You are one of the few British artists who have combined a true career in art song alongside one in opera, how have you achieved this?
RW: It would be lovely to think that this was part of some clever planning on my part. But the truth is I have simply said yes to lovely jobs when they are offered to me. Perhaps some singers who specialise in opera don’t want to bother with Lieder recitals or feel their voices aren’t right for baroque or contemporary oratorios. My voice has always been fairly flexible so I have enjoyed working in a variety of musical styles. It keeps me interested. I’ll give almost anything a go.
You had a career as a teacher before becoming a professional singer, how difficult was it to give up a regular income for an irregular one?!
RW: It was definitely a hard decision to give up my teaching career as I had thought up till then that I would be a music teacher for ever. I rather stumbled across singing as a profession when I saw some of my friends and colleagues heading in that direction. I was told that singing was precarious as an existence so I reckoned I could always go back to teaching if things didn't work out. I think that if I had waited much longer than perhaps giving up a reliable, weekly salary could have been even harder so I’m glad I tried it when I did. As it happens, I now manage to do some coaching from time to time in various schools and colleges so that has helped satisfy an urge to teach still.
Was there a significant role in your early career that you now consider your breakout moment?
RW: My career has been one of slow and steady progress rather than a single, stellar role. My lucky breaks have been numerous and relatively small scale. But I’m hugely glad that it has happened that way; it has helped me deal with the pressures of performance while keeping things in perspective. Thus when it has come to moments like the Last Night of the Proms later in my life, I have felt comfortable rather than out of my depth.
What piece of career advice would you give to singers just starting out?
RW: Prepare well. My most agonising, uncomfortable experiences have been when I have felt under-prepared. I always remember Isobel Flynn once saying to me, apropos of nothing in particular, “there’s always someone who is behind learning their role - don’t let it be you."
“There’s always someone who is behind learning their role - don’t let it be you. - Isobel Flynn
Your new album with pianist Susie Allan is a tribute to an English art song festival at Tardebigge that has sadly come to an end after 12 years. What role have regional music festivals played in your career?
RW: Many years ago I was awarded a place on a scheme by the National Federation of Music Societies (since renamed Making Music) that sent me on recital and concert tours the length and breadth of the UK. I really learned how to perform for an audience during this period and especially how to deliver a song recital. It also woke me up to the simple truth that there are audiences for classical music throughout the country, not just in London nor just in major cities. I’m very grateful for that experience and the connection with people that it has helped me to forge.
Your renown as a composer has grown this year with the world-premiere of your choral piece Là ci dare la mano at the Proms and a new recording by pianist Maria Marchant featuring two of your pieces/arrangements for solo piano. What drives you to not only interpret existing repertoire but also create your own?
RW: I have always written music, again in a variety of styles, mostly in order to fill particular spots in programmes for myself or my friends. I used to arrange and compose music for ensembles at home, school, university and beyond, not so much because I felt an urge to create music and ‘express myself', but because I have enjoyed the feeling when others play something that I have written. It’s quite a buzz.
Many singers dream of performing at the Last Night of the Proms, what were the challenges of a such a high-profile event and how did you prepare for the performance?
RW: Of course the pressure was on me for this event. In essence, though, the only thing that really worried me about that concert was remembering the verses of Rule Britannia. The other pieces - the Strauss Taillefer and the spirituals in the second half - were more under my control. My memory can sometimes be unreliable and I hated the thought that I might get lost without the words in my hand and for it all to end up on YouTube for ever after. During rehearsals, I kept making minor memory slips which didn’t help my confidence. My intention had been to sing the verses every day for about three months so that I could do it in my sleep. But that didn’t happen; I guess I was just too busy with other things. (“Prepare well” - didn’t I mention that before?) So, in the end, I panicked and grabbed the text in a black folder at the very last minute to take on with me. And it helped settle my mind. In the end I didn’t need to refer to it at all; my brain relaxed and I had full and total recall. I really enjoyed the moment.
It’s funny to think that The Last Night could be the 'dream of many singers'. Really? Why would anyone dream of being put under such pressure? It was a huge honour to have been asked, there’s no denying that, but there is also no doubt that one gets to face one’s demons at such a moment! Be careful what you wish for!
You performed a selection of pieces from Showboat made famous by the great bass singer and actor Paul Robeson, have you ever considered writing an opera about him? (It seems long overdue!)
RW: My father (a retired management consultant and general polymath) once wrote a libretto about the Jamaican hero Paul Bogle and we tried to interest various people in this opera to celebrate the anniversary of Jamaican independence. It never happened though. Writing an opera is such a huge undertaking for all concerned.
Telling the story of Paul Robeson’s life would be interesting but one problem I could foresee is how to cast him; he had such a unique voice. How could one replicate the effect he had on people? One would have to wait for the perfect replica singer to appear on the scene. Such voice and personalities occur only once in a blue moon.
Roderick's latest album with pianist Susie Allan 'Celebrating English Song' will be out on Friday 27th October and is now available to pre-order on line
Audition Oracle – Wed 27 Sep 2017 @ 10:58
This weeks guest blog post from comes from the Artistic Director of Head First Productions Sophie Gilpin. This blog really resonated with us at Audition Oracle - a female led company employing predominantly female staff.
We need to talk about women.
Earlier this month, Victoria Sadler wrote a, quite frankly, depressing article about the lack of work by female writers being programmed in the leading London theatres. The only theatre to come out in a positive light was Vicky Featherstone’s Royal Court, with a stonking ten out seventeen plays in the 2017 season written by women. At the other end of the scale was the Old Vic Theatre which programmed - can you guess? - zero plays by women in 2017, and only one a year in 2015 and 2016.
But let’s talk about opera.
For the purposes of this blog I’m more interested in the people running the opera houses than I am about the horrifying balance of male to female composers; that’s a different can of worms and one I’m not sure I know where to start to investigate, although special mention must go to Roxanna Panufnik (composer) and Jessica Duchen (librettist) for Silver Birch.
I run a theatre company called HeadFirst Productions. I am also a woman. It’s very easy to reel off a list of small- to mid-scale, female-led opera companies:
Opera up Close (Robin Norton-Hale)
Pop up Opera (Clementine Lovell)
Time Zone Theatre/Opera in the City (Pamela Schermann)
Helios Collective (Ella Marchment)
Size Zero Opera (Laura Bowler)
Celebrate Voice (Lynsey Docherty)
Unexpected Opera (Lynn Binstock)
Metta Theatre (Poppy Burton-Morgan)… the list goes on.
But jump up in scale and every single major opera company in Great Britain is led by men:
Royal Opera House - male Director of Music and Director of Opera
English National Opera - male Artistic Director and Music Director
(and an outgoing female CEO, Cressida Pollock)
Glyndebourne - male General Director and Music Director
Opera North - male General Director
(currently no Music Director, but previously all have been men)
Scottish Opera - male General Director and Music Director
Welsh National Opera - male Artistic Director and Music Director
(but a female Managing Director, Leonora Thompson)
Opera Holland Park - male General Director and Director of Opera
The Grange Festival - male Artistic Director and General Manager
Grange Park Opera - male Executive Director
(but a female founder, Wasfi Kani)
Garsington Opera - male Artistic Director
(but a female Executive Director, Nicola Creed)
English Touring Opera - male General Director and Music Director
So what’s happening?
Why is there such a drastic gender balance switch from the small scale to the large scale? Every event I attend aimed at early career Directors and Artistic Directors is full of young women hungry to lead an organisation or to run a building, and yet even if I include non-opera producing houses I can count on two hands the number of women in senior leadership positions.
My experience is that creative teams also lean the same way. For a long time I have considered myself a fairly vocal feminist. But until recently I’d become so used to working with more men than women over the years that not only had I not minded regularly being the only woman in a room, but I suddenly realised that I hadn’t even been noticing it. The gender imbalance of my working life had become my new normal and I had accepted that.
Unfortunately I am particularly drawn to the music of the 18th and 19th century which means that to some extent it is inevitable that the work I prefer to direct is composed by men. Nothing is achieved by lamenting the lack of female opera composers from 200-300 years ago but we can - and should - redress the balance by ensuring that women can contribute artistically when we stage these works in the 21st century.
I’ve been following with fascination - and great admiration - Alice Farnham’s tireless efforts to engage with more female Conductors. From the weekend courses at Morley College in 2014 for young women interested in a conducting career, to the recent announcement of the collaboration between ROH, NOS and RPS to establish a Women Conductors course in 2018, she’s doing an astonishingly good job at tackling the archaic belief of some dinosaurs that conducting can be too physically demanding for women and that “a cute girl on the podium” can make musicians’ thoughts drift elsewhere. Whilst I acknowledge that people who hold extreme views like this are probably (hopefully?) in the minority, the paucity of women conducting at any level is indicative of a greater problem.
As an Artistic Director (or General Director, or Music Director or Director of Opera…) we have a responsibility to continue to have conversations about gender equality in the industry, both in terms of the representation of woman on stage and in terms of the people we choose to work alongside.
At the end of this month A Festival of Sex, Love and Death opens at the Pleasance Theatre. Our flagship production is Don Giovanni, arguably one of the most problematic operas when considering the objectification of women. The opera can so easily be overly concerned with male desire and the women become little more than Giovanni's playthings. However, our all female production team is approaching it from the point of view of the women. Whilst we are not altering the libretto at all, we will ensure that not only is the action driven by the three women, but that they are strong, active characters with their own identities outside of their association to the nearest man. Being desired can be intoxicating. So what happens when a simple flirtation changes gear, and an innocent seduction becomes sexual manipulation? And worse, what happens if - by the time you’ve realised what’s happening - you’ve already fallen for the one man you know you shouldn’t?
So with this festival HeadFirst Productions is doing our bit to throw some more light onto the problem. Across the entire festival, the gender balance is in our favour; where there's an all male show it's been programmed as a double bill with an all-female show. Where there's a male writer, there's a female producer, and where there's a male Music Director, there's a female Director.
Our all-female creative team for Don Giovanni consists of our Conductor, Director, Designer, Production Manager, Language Coach and Assistant Director. 50% of our orchestra are women and our Young Artist répétiteur is also a woman. When the entire company is in a room at the same time, women are going to outnumber men for the first time in my professional career.
Going back to the gender gap between small and large scale, I do feel optimistic that things are changing. I hope that as the women currently in their twenties and thirties continue to develop their careers, they will shatter the glass ceiling so completely that we’ll soon see truly equal representation of gender across the board, and can finally stop having this conversation.
Ladies - the one thing I urge is that every time we take a step up the ladder, we reach back and hold out a hand to someone who needs it. If we don’t, who will?
Don Giovanni and A Festival of Sex, Love & Death takes place at the Pleasance Theatre Islington from 26 October - 4 November.
Tickets are £12-£15 and can be bought online at pleasance.co.uk.
For the full festival lineup, see headfirstproductions.org/current-production(includes a masterclass with Sir Thomas Allen)