Past and present students of the David Seligman Opera School joined forces with Welsh National Opera and Maestro Carlo Rizzi to present an Opera Gala to celebrate the College’s 70th birthday.
Opera student Grace Curtis talked us through her Gala experience, from getting the music for the first time to performing on the night.
This evening, WNO Orchestra and WNO Conductor Laureate @CarloRizziMusic perform in a very special gala concert to celebrate the 70th anniversary of @RWCMD. Penblwydd Hapus! #WNOorchestra pic.twitter.com/C5GDIBEmbQ
— Welsh National Opera (@WNOtweet) November 15, 2019
“For many of us the gala is the highlight of the autumn term. Not only is it a wonderful occasion to watch, but a genuine joy to work on.
From receiving the music six weeks ago, we began preparations, working on the Italian text and German texts with our language tutors.
— Osian Wyn Bowen (@OsianWyn23) November 14, 2019
John Fisher, the Opera School’s Artistic Director, was on hand to oversee every part of the work. He spent hours with us himself, delivering true gems of experience and helping us to find the artistic choices we would and could make.
We also had a week of coaching from musical director and conductor Wyn Davies who spent the time refining and getting us comfortably off copy.
This day next week will be my birthday & I’ll be spending it in rehearsals singing Suor Angelica for this AMAZING Gala @RWCMD with @WNOtweet under the Barton of Maestro @CarloRizziMusic !!!!
Can’t wait 🤩🥳 #WNO #Rwcmd #operagala #wales #carrdiff #soprano #irishsoprano pic.twitter.com/fcNDeOG11F
— Rachel Goode (@goode_rachel) November 7, 2019
In the final week, we worked with director Alma Sheehan, who helped us make the final jump into our characters before we met with Carlo Rizzi who, I hope, was pleased with where we all were.
After some in-depth coaching with Carlo we began the orchestral rehearsals with the WNO Orchestra, which was a truly indescribable experience.
“Performing with an orchestra and conductor of that standard makes a young singer feel so safe and comfortable.
Where you might think we would feel out of our depth, they were all so kind, and we were so well prepared that it was just the most freeing experience of trusting that the work had been done, and the whole ensemble was really living inside the music.
Having had some unbelievable experiences on the opera course over the past year or so, this gala felt like a real highlight.
I feel there are certain moments in life, when you clock into how amazingly lucky you are to be where you are, and smiling at Carlo and the orchestra, having just opened the opera gala was certainly one of them.”
The programme included music from Puccini’s La Boheme, and Suor Angelica, and Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte.
“It’s a very ambitious programme, featuring big operatic scenes that encompass a huge range of human emotion: love betrayal, forgiveness, shame, happiness, all enhanced and taken to the next level by some of the most beautiful music ever created,” said Carlo Rizzi.
As well as being a beautiful evening of music for the audience, it was an incredibly enjoyable evening for me personally: to conduct the wonderful Welsh National Orchestra, and work again with these talented young singers, both recent graduates and students, of the David Seligman Opera School.”
Thank you to everyone who came and supported, to @CarloRizziMusic, @WNOtweet and my brilliant colleagues! It was an amazing experience to be performing alongside such generous and supportive musicians – I won’t ever forget being a part of such a historic year for @RWCMD! #Grazie https://t.co/LIKwg91Ps7
— Jack Bowtell (@JackBowtell) November 16, 2019
Singing alongside students from the MA in Opera Performance are recent graduates André Henriques, Rachel Goode, Rhodri Prys Jones, and Christine Byrne, who graduated in June and makes her WNO debut in Verdi’s Les Vêpres Siciliennes with Carlo Rizzi in the Spring.
Both Rachel and Rhodri won the College’s prestigious Ian Stoutzker Prize when they were studying at College.
Find out more about the David Seligman Opera School.
All photos: Simon Gough