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Singing Puccini at the Royal Opera Open Rehearsal!

Updated: Jan 30, 2023


A dozen Choir members enjoyed a fabulous day out at a Royal Opera House Open Rehearsal, raising £140 for Choir funds in the process. Rachel’s generous idea was to purchase as many £10 tickets as possible for this very popular event, then sell them to Choir members for £20. And to start the day she provided coffee and delicious homemade cakes at her house.

11am. The day was bright and crisp with the frost still sparkling. Fine for a brisk walk up the hill from Mortlake station to Rachel’s house. Coffee and cake were then most appreciated. But the occasion itself offered more than that. A day off work for some, a day out for all, we were able to relax into getting to know each other better. Sops could learn more about what other sops do in life when they are not singing and meet altos for the same. Rachel called us ‘Ladies!’ But the atmosphere was like a professional women’s gathering. Until we put our coats back on and collected our packed lunches. Then people began remembering school trips! But where were the Men?! 2 were spied at ROH later, along with at least one other lady. We positively bounced back down the hill and took the train to Waterloo. One Sue got on at Putney, another Sue, also part of the group met us at ROH. The weather still lovely, walking from Waterloo to Covent Garden felt rather emotional, over Hungerford Bridge, along the northern Embankment, I am sure lots of us were remembering previous visits, special occasions, theatre, restaurants, but with fresh eyes as if we were in a tourist group. Victoria Embankment Gardens were spotted, already bursting into Spring. It was warm enough to eat lunch out in the sun so we sat on a long dry wall and did just that. The Opera House – they had not given out much information, the spice of mystery hung in the air. Where would we sing? What would we sing? At 2.15pm we were all assembled in the vast champagne bar & restaurant in the glass Atrium, the Paul Hamlyn Hall. In order to make space for us, the enormous bar that usually occupies the central area had been pushed to one end to make space for the 100 singers. 100 chairs in a 10 x 10 block, all filled. The conductor was Patrick, I think it was Chas on the piano. We were soon into a familiar Harry Bradford VRRM..! style warm up with physical jerks as well as singing exercises at the same time. ‘Very important to do both at once as the opera chorus. They are firstly actors,’ said Patrick, ‘And keep up, or it's goodbye!’


Then, for half an hour each we studied and rehearsed their 2 chosen choruses. Everyone knows Puccini and ‘Madame Butterfly’. When my son was little he played the child in a local production for a whole week! We were rehearsing ‘The humming chorus.’ I felt it really helped to focus on the humming. ‘Think SING with mouth slightly open then change it to (SI)NG,’ said Patrick. (He wrote it on a huge white board). This seemed to form a bond between tongue and upper front teeth and produced strength and sustainability. Everyone knows ‘I’ve got rhythm,’ even that it is by Gershwin (1930), but no one knows where it comes from. It is from ‘Girl Crazy’. (I think he said that the current ‘Crazy For You’ is a version). They must have thought it sounds more ‘woke’! Set on a ranch, Danny Churchill takes it over from his father but introduces lots of girls, especially showgirls to the area and father is not pleased. Danny goes on to marry the local postmistress... We rehearsed it, we studied the rhythm, already prepared for in the warm up. Then Patrick said, ‘Now sing it as if you are on a horse, riding fast so you have to cling on, close to its neck...’ Then, WE GOT RHYTHM!


3.30pm. It was all over! But in true TPC style the group lingered, checked up on other people’s getting home plans then individuals began to peel off. A smaller cohort set off in the direction of Waterloo. What a tremendous day out. THANK YOU RACHEL! Another successful Skills & Services event for TPC Anne Zachary

20 January 2023


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