In for a treat…

October 13, 2009

JOYIA FITCH, Community Ensemble Participant

So I answer this ad on the net to audition for the community ensemble for ‘Messiah’ to be on at the Coliseum for the ENO this winter. I know nothing about ENO so I apply out of curiosity. I have fun at the initial audition, but am nervous at the recall as there seems to be tons of people.

 The director is Deborah Warner, I’m familiar with her play directing, it’s always new and boundary pushing. My most vivid memory is seeing ‘The Powerbook’ at the NT years ago and thinking ‘Wow’ on so many levels. Also ‘Happy Days’ (I wish I’d taken my Mum to that one). I’m yet to see ‘Mother Courage’. I’ve not seen any of her opera’s, check that I haven’t seen any operas at all… until now.

So I’m asked to be in the community ensemble & am very happy, this will be great I think, fun even, it will keep me out of trouble for a bit, I’ll get to meet new people & hang out in some creative rehearsals & and oh my goodness, that stage, the Coliseum, 2358 seats to be precise, the widest proscenium arch in London. I’m in for a treat.

I bump into our organiser Jana today & we chat about things & she wonders if I might like to write something for the blog so here I am…. We talk about opera, my thoughts on opera… I’ve been introduced to it through this project & I wonder why I’ve missed it all these just shy of 30 years. I know about plays & films & art & such & I’m questioning why opera never really came into my field of vision.

I think I thought it was something that other people did, people stand there and sing, they have amazing earth shattering voices, yes, but what was it all about?…I always thought opera was something else, done by someone else, enjoyed by other people, by people not like me. You know, people standing there singing, & dare I say it? Highbrow and traditional even. Images of Pavarotti singing ‘just one cornetto, give it to me. Delicious ice-cream, from italeeeeeeeee’ flood my little head. Oh, how wrong I was, I’m beginning to see much differently.

My thoughts – well could opera be interesting for me? Could I feel connected to it? Was it an age thing? Was it a ‘opera isn’t really cool’ thing, its ‘old’… such prejudices…what did it mean for ‘now’? Could I, possibly, even sing? (hmmmm, we’ll find out if I can on Sunday at the ‘Know The Show’ on ‘Turandot’. Someone once told me I was a Soprano… I’ll get back to you on that one.)

So, with being in the community ensemble comes a ton of opportunities thrown at us that I would never have found by myself. We’re invited to the dress rehearsals of the current season at the ENO. I’ve thus far been to 2. ‘Turandot’ was my first EVER opera. I feel so stupid admitting that but its true. I saw it before the recall audition so I was still unsure as to whether I’d be asked to be in the ensemble. I tried not to think about it, but secretly hoped I would be as the spectacle began to unfold onstage.

‘Turandot’ was lush, proud & bright & I felt my belly melt at the finale. A few times in it I thought ‘I know that song’… I didn’t know it was Puccini & I didn’t know it was from ‘Turandot’ but I felt at home hearing it. Familiar. My idea of opera being apart from me started to diminish here…


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