Monday, 24 September 2018

Opera company dispels singing myths

ABOUT 30 people learned how to sing opera for a day.

ABOUT 30 people learned how to sing opera for a day.

Garsington Opera, which is based at the Wormsley Estate, offered professional coaching at Icknield Community College in Watlington on Saturday.

The students were taught how to become part of an opera chorus by Garsington’s creative director Karen Gillingham and head of music Susanna Stranders.

They then staged their own version of a section from the Offenbach opera Vert-Vert, with costumes and props, for friends and family.

Kate Laughton, education manager at the opera company, said: “We had a mixture of people of all ages and experiences and they all got to see what it’s like to be part of an opera chorus for a day. They learned vocal techniques and worked as a group like shoals of fish moving around together.

“Everyone enjoyed it. It’s very much for people who don’t necessarily think that opera is for them. We want to get more people to give it a go.”

The workshop was the first in a series over the next year for adults and secondary school children across Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

The series follows the success of Garsington’s community opera Road Rage, which involved about 180 people of all ages.

It will culminate in a professional performance of The Cunning Little Vixen in June to which people who have been involved in the workshops will be invited.

Ms Gillingham said the workshop was a lot of fun. “About 80 per cent of the people had worked with us before,” she said. “We’re furthering what they’ve done with us and for those who are new it’s a good experience. There were a couple who hadn’t sung before.

“There are some barriers to the word ‘opera’ for some people, which I had when I was younger, but I became really passionate about it. It’s really accessible to everyone. It’s not an elite club but an exciting form of art.”

Ms Gillingham said she hoped the company would be able to stage another community opera.

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