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Chiara Vinci in rehearsal.

Chiara Vinci in rehearsal (photo: Janet Louise Hodgson).

Final rehearsals before first performance of people’s opera

With only days to go till the opening of the people’s opera Bloom Britannia, HOT’s music correspondent Brian Hick dropped in on rehearsals to see how things were going.

The evening sunlight flooded in through the stained glass windows high above the participants in St Barnabus’ church, Bexhill. The heavy Victorian brickwork was a world away from the Salvation Army centre in Hastings where previous rehearsals were held, and different again from the 1930s décor of the De La Warr Pavilion which will see the inauguration of Bloom Britannia on Sunday 28th.

As I arrived the chorus and soloists were about to start warm-up exercises – not just vocal but physical – to create the warmth and tactile environment the score needs. To one side conductor Odaline de la Martinez was able to control her sizable forces, joined on this occasion by the small group of instrumentalists as well as the piano.

The space available within the church often made sight-lines difficult, particularly when all the singers were actively involved, and on occasion they needed to simply come close to the musicians to go through a particular part of the score before moving into place.

Even at this stage there were members who were new to each other and one of the opening exercises helped them get better acquainted. Then it was down to the score, picking up from the point they had reached the previous evening.

With so many disparate groups involved, stage movement is complex and time-consuming. To ensure details are correct, progress is necessarily slow and ideas are being worked out as the evening progresses, which is of course exactly what this first year is all about. This is intended to be a work in progress and one which will grow as much in rehearsal as in the writing.

While the larger choir rehearses, the children go off to hone their You’re Wally scene. Two soloists seem to have to endlessly repeat their Six thousand lines as scenes restart. The sudden emergence of a highly lyrical chorus gives way to an ecstatic, if somewhat chaotic, dance section.

Sunday sees the first public staging and all the signs are good so far – even if the unexpected is all too certain to happen.

 

Posted 21:09 Saturday, Apr 27, 2019 In: Music & Sound

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