Articles tagged with: Opera

Jackdaws at Somerset Festival

Jackdaws at Somerset Festival

OperaPLUS 2014Next Friday (11th July), Sound Foundation Somerset are staging a Music Festival in Taunton all weekend to Sunday 13th . Jackdaws will be taking highlights of their recent musical projects including The Year of Guitar and OperaPLUS.

The Year of Guitar was led by the Eden Stell Duo who worked with 14 schools across Somerset and performed a finale concert in the Cheese and Grain Frome on June 6th this year. Some of the schools that took part in the Project, Frome Community College and Selwood Academy will be accompanying the Duo to the festival and will be performing at 12:00pm on the Sunday at Somerset Square.

OperaPLUS have been focusing on the style of Gioacchino Rossini, an Italian Opera composer and the group will be performing a piece called ‘The Stylist of Somerset’ a production set in the style of popular television Talent Shows. The performance will be 1:20pm to 2:00pm in the Brewhouse. At 4:00pm there will be a Flash Mob in Goodlands Garden with Saffron and the singers. The Flash Mob will be a new and exciting experience for all who are involved so it would be great to turn up and show your support.

Keep up to date with all that’s happening at the Festival by visiting the Sound Foundation Somerset website and looking out for any updates on our website.

Written by Isaac Mundy, work experience student from Frome College.

The Stylist of Somerset – “Pure magic!”

The Stylist of Somerset – “Pure magic!”

“Sometimes something quite exceptional can happen when you’re least expecting it… Thank you. Encore. Encore.” – Jo Woodward

Thursday 8th and Friday 9th May saw something quite exceptional happen involving children from 6 Somerset schools, 6 Jackdaws Young Artists and a Rossini opera.

Jackdaws annual OperaPLUS project culminated two weeks of intense rehearsals and workshops with performances of “The Stylist of Somerset” (also known as Rossini’s Barber of Seville) at Robert Blake Science College, Bridgwater and the Cheese & Grain, Frome with children singing as part of the opera performance.

Three schools were involved in each performance – Robert Blake, Elmwood and Penrose in Bridgwater and Critchill, Hayesdown and St John’s in Frome.

“All the children were fully engaged both as performers and as onlookers.” – Alan Burgess

OperaPLUS RehearsalsIn the two weeks preceding the shows, six Jackdaws Young Artists – all currently studying at one of the major British Music Conservatoires – led workshops with children at all six schools and Jack’s Music Club, working with the children on the part they would play and teaching the songs they later sang in the production.

The opera selected was Rossini’s opera buffa Barber of Seville, which was given a fresh and exciting spin and renamed “The Stylist of Somerset“. Based on popular TV talent shows, the evil Dr Bartolo was compared with a certain infamous judge with Rosina as his next star talent, Almaviva is a Pop star and, of course, Figaro is the best stylist in all of Somerset! Alan Burgess, headteacher of St John’s School who participated, said “Perhaps the greatest testimony of the production’s success was evidenced in the faces of everyone watching: they were enthralled from start to finish.

The performance was enjoyed by performers, children, parents and teachers alike.

“I am sure that neither of our sons (our 10 year old was in the audience with us) would have chosen to watch an opera with us. But they, like us were gripped from the very start.” – Kelly Newton

2014 is the 5th year that the OperaPLUS project has taken place. Previous years have seen productions of The Magic Flute, La Cenerentola and Semele, each time involving schools as far afield as Dulverton and Bridgwater.
As a parent I am feeling so very fortunate to have been able to share with my child in such an experience; as I felt so very much part of it as he did.” Charlotte Deniz Sanches

Jackdaws Artistic Director Saffron van Zwanenberg addressed the audience immediately after the Frome performance, saying “It’s really very simple… Bring it to them and they love it.

Funder Logos

Read our introduction to the Stylist of Somerset.

Introduction to OperaPLUS 2014

Introduction to OperaPLUS 2014

RossiniOperaPLUS 2014 will be focus on Rossini’s Barber of Seville in a brand new production, with a Jackdaws twist.

Gioacchino Rossini
…was born in Pesaro on the Adriatic coast of Italy. He is Italy’s greatest loved composer of opera buffa (comic opera). Born on 29 February 1792, a leap year. He died 76 years later on 13 November 1868 (aged 18!)

Rossini’s operas earned him fame and money during his lifetime, which was, and is, unusual for a composer. A keen chef, his culinary legacy also lives on in the form of several pasta dishes and a strawberry cocktail made with champagne.

He was known for the speed with which he composed and once boasted that he could set a shopping list to music. Unusually for a composer, he retired from composition in 1829 having written 39 operas, although did write several smaller scale pieces after this. His opera buffa, La Cenerentola (1817), based on the story of Cinderella, was Jackdaws’ focus for OperaPLUS 2012 and was received with great acclaim. The 2014 programme focuses on Rossini’s most famous work, The Barber of Seville, written in 1815 (aged 23).

The Barber of Seville
The two-act libretto by Cesare Sterbini is based on Pierre Beaumarchais’ renowned comedic stage play “Le Barbier de Séville“, the first in his ‘Figaro trilogy’. Mozart famously set the second play in his Le nozze di Figaro.

With a comical libretto, the piece is an Opera buffa and indeed is often considered the best example of the Buffa style – it is certainly the most well known opera from the genre, and contains the famous Patter song ‘Largo al Factotum‘.

Rossini CocktailRossini Key Terms
Bel Canto – literally “beautiful voice”, a style of Italian singing characterised by its grace, virtuosity and agility
Libretto – like the text of a play, these are the words the composer sets to music
Opera buffa – literally “comic opera”, with a humorous libretto as well as visual gags
Overture – an instrumental introduction heard at the start of each Act, which often includes melodies which will be heard
Rossini Crescendo – a passage of music which gets louder over a repeated pattern. Rossini’s frequent employment of this device earned him the nickname ‘Signor Crescendo’

The Barber story follows Rosina, a young heiress, who is being pursued by her guardian, Dr. Bartolo, who wants to keep her fortune by marrying her himself. But Rosina has fallen in love with Count Almaviva and together with Figaro the Barber, they outsmart Dr. Bartolo so Rosina and the Count can marry.

Jackdaws OperaPLUS production, the Stylist of Somerset, takes a slightly different angle. Set in the style of popular television Talent shows, Rosina is a hopeful young contestant auditioning for Bartolo, a judge. She is in love with the already famous superstar Almaviva, who loves her back. Almaviva and Rosina ask their stylist, Figaro, to help them outsmart the evil Bartolo.

Jackdaws’ OperaPLUS production of the Stylist of Somerset will be performed twice:
Robert Blake Science College, Bridgwater on May 8 at 12:30pm
Cheese & Grain, Frome on May 9 at 5:30pm

OperaPLUS 2013 is a Big Success

OperaPLUS 2013 is a Big Success

We are delighted that our OperaPLUS performances of Handel’s opera Semele were a fantastic success. The performances, in Frome’s Cheese & Grain on Thursday 2nd and at Dulverton Middle School on Friday 3rd May saw Jackdaws Young Artists performing the lead roles supported by a chorus of eager children from local schools.

The OperaPLUS project is an intensive course aimed at Young Artists about to embark on their professional careers. It encompasses a full performance of an opera and gives valuable additional training and opportunity to experience wider music education by collaborating with at least three local schools who feature in the performance and take part in workshops. It runs annually at Jackdaws, to the delight of local parents and audiences, who treasure the unique opportunity to see their children performing in an opera.

My son really enjoyed taking part… a great hit.

OperaPLUS: Handel's Semele

Jassy Husk as Handel’s Semele, Jackdaws OperaPLUS 2013

OperaPLUS 2013 concludes this weekend with the final performance at Abingdon’s Unicorn Theatre on Sunday.

In 2012, the OperaPLUS performance concluded with a sold out production of Cinderella, and the project will return in May 2014 with Rossini’s Barber of Saville.

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