I have been meaning to write a blog post since Christmas and look where we are now!
I've had a few people ask me "How has the year out gone?" and my honest reply is that it hasn't felt like a year, more like a term! I think that's partly due to the fact that I am preparing for my move down to London. Once you know you're returning to education it stops feeling like 'time out'.
It's been an extremely busy start to the year for me, travelling up to Edinburgh twice a week while keep up with my teaching. I can confidently say I don't miss the 6.15am train rides on a Tuesday morning and then teaching all day. It was exhausting and extremely ambitious looking back but I made it work and it was worth it in the end. When I was offered the role I was shocked and a little concerned how I was going to make it work. I didn't realise when I auditioned that the rehearsals would be in the evenings on a Friday and Monday. I was with a friend when I got the call offering me the role and she said I couldn't turn it down and would have to figure it out. I instantly remembered how I had lied in my audition about having places to stay in Edinburgh. I got in touch with the person who had suggested I audition for ESO and told him that I had got the role. I also asked if he knew of anyone I could stay with as rehearsals finished at 9pm and the only travel option after this time was the 6 hour over night bus... No, thank you. He said I could stay with his mum as they have a spare room. I didn't want to outstay my welcome so I decided to ask to stay with his mum just on a Monday night. I chose the Monday night mainly because I had to get the first train back to Manchester to teach all day and I wanted to be as well rested as possible. For the Friday nights I hoped that members of the cast would offer up sofas or sofa beds. I was lucky that for my first rehearsal a close friend said I could stay with her sister who was studying at Edinburgh University. From then on people in the cast and crew generously housed me on Friday nights. There were times where I was on the train to Edinburgh and I didn't have a place to stay for that night but there was always someone who would save the day. I'm very much a person who likes to plan ridiculously far in advance, but sometimes you have to take little risks and work it out as you go. Now it's all over I am so glad I got to perform 'Susanna', such a great character and I can't wait to do it again in the future.
It was also a fantastic company to do that role with because the rehearsals were a collaboration between cast and crew. We were allowed to discuss ideas with the director rather than just be told where to move and what to do/think. I really felt like we were given the freedom to make the characters our own and then receiving such fantastic reviews for the show made it all the more gratifying. I found this also with Northern Opera Group when I performed 'Hero' in Much Ado About Nothing with them last August. It was performed in a beautiful converted church (same as Assembly Roxy in Edinburgh) and the set was quite simple and intimate. I again enjoyed the collaboration aspect with a great cast who worked well together. I feel very lucky to be invited back to perform 'Alison' in The Wandering Scholar with them in May. We are touring around Leeds, Skipton and Wakefield doing site specific performances which should be another adventure to add to my list.
I have actually done very little in Manchester in terms of Opera. The only performances I have done here are Opera Galas and Oratorios. I found it hard to find roles in Manchester when beginning my year out. In fact the first role I did when leaving the RNCM was on a course down in Dorking. It was a great experience which lead on to me going over to Brazil. I got a good deal for the course as well so it was well worth the amount I paid in the end. If you are considering a year out I genuinely think you have to look all across the country to find worthwhile projects. It's also important to figure out how you're going to fund it if it's something you really want to do but it's not paid.
I funded my trips to Edinburgh through my teaching work. Teaching has been such a big part of my life since my 3rd year at RNCM. I never really talk about it as part of my year out so I'm going to write another blog about that, to make up for my lack of blogs, in the next day or so.
I've now left both my teaching jobs so I can go over to Berlin for a month to do a language course. Languages are so important in singing and I have always thought if I could understand what I was saying in a different language then it would save a lot of time learning the translation. So I've decided to begin with German. I'm also taking the opportunity to have some lessons and coachings over in Berlin, as I really enjoyed the consultation lessons I had over here to decide where I was going to do my Masters. My original plan in September was to audition at some German conservatoires with the view to studying my Masters there. However too much other stuff got in the way of me focusing on improving my German and it won't be good enough to audition with this year.
So in the spirit of improving my German, I would just like to say... Danke fürs Lesen!!