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A first post from our new back-row blogger – slightly delayed because of the amount of stuff we’ve been putting up here – apologies!

BLOG FROM THE BACK ROW

 ‘It’s my birthday…..there’s a party….everyone is invited……Lucas Meachem’. I study the invitation pinned to the OAE notice board at Glyndebourne. ‘Who’s Lucas Meachem?’ I ask my colleague. She stares in disbelief. ‘Lucas Meachem? Don Giovanni?’ in a tone which also says ‘Hello, where have you been for the last three weeks?’ Well, I’ve been in my usual place on the back row in the pit and, unlike my violinist colleague, unable to see anything on stage. (Our view consists of the back of the flutes’ and oboes’ heads, the backs of the ‘cellos who are on a slightly raised platform, the conductor, more or less, very occasionally if we’re lucky the leader, and the front row of the audience, some of whom will be snoozing after the interval.) We can hear that there are people walking above our heads, and from far away comes the sound of singing, but I admit that our perspective on proceedings is limited. To enhance my experience I’ve watched the DVD of the production, filmed last year. It’s a revelation. That alarming thumping directly overhead in act 2 for example turns out to be Leporello hopping across the stage with his legs tied together. No need to worry. But the cast is different from this year’s and so for me, Gerald Finley is  Don Giovanni – hence my puzzlement over the invitation. During the interval a cake is brought into the artists’ cafe and we all sing ‘Happy Birthday’. That must be the new     Giovanni blowing out the candles. So, Lucas Meachem, now I know you (sort of) but you don’t know me, and I can hear you (sort of) though I don’t suppose you can hear me at all. But when you’re back on stage remember, as you get dragged down into hell – that faint bellowing from far below is The Back Row, blowing our brains out in a vain attempt to drown your screams.

Back row blogger, 18/06/2011

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Kings Lynn family concert

Kings Lynn family concert

One of the things I most love about playing with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) is the variety- the spice of a freelance musician’s life.

I’m currently halfway between Kings Lynn and Glyndebourne (somewhere in Essex): halfway between schools and family concerts of Don Giovanni and the second night of Rinaldo: halfway between an audience of hundreds who had never been in the same room as an opera singer before, and an audience famously passionate about opera.

Just to put your minds at rest, I’m not actually driving as I type.

Forget the vuvuzelas – for me there’s nothing like the sound of 300 children buzzing with anticipation and excitement before the start of a schools’ concert. The children in Kings Lynn were there as composers, performers, and audience. You ain’t heard nothing till you hear the Corn Exchange full of children singing Fin ch’han dal vino. They loved it so much they just couldn’t stand still as they sang it.

They were guided through the concert by the fantastic James Redwood and OAE Education Director Cherry Forbes as they heard about the dastardly Don Giovanni, listened to the OAE play Mozart, performed their new songs and of course heard Real Live Opera Singers from Glyndebourne…the ones that don’t need microphones! Read the rest of this entry »

Next Tuesday 5 July, we’ll be coming straight from Glyndebourne’s Opera House to the Corn Exchange in King’s Lynn to perform in an hour-long family concert, playing highlights from one of Mozart’s most famous pieces, Don Giovanni. OAE musicians will be joined by over 150 children from local schools who’ll be performing live on stage.

We caught up with OAE Education Director Cherry Forbes and composer James Redwood, who’ll both be presenting the concert, to ask them what the audience can expect to see, including a dastardly villain and maybe even a few ghosts!

Tickets are just £5 for adults and £2 for children and can be booked through the King’s Lynn Corn Exchange on 01553 764864 or online here.

For more information on this concert and our other Education projects, why not have a look at our website here?

The OAE is currently in the middle of a run of Don Giovanni at Glyndebourne, the first of two operas we are performing there this season (the other being Rinaldo). The production of Don Giovanni premiered last summer when it was conducted by our Principal Artist and Glyndebourne Music Director Vladimir Juorwski. This season Robin Ticciati has taken over conducting duties, but we thought you might still be interested in this video from Glyndebourne in which Vladimir talks about the opera and which also includes some exclusive rehearsal footage.


Wow, Glyndebourne always arrives sooner than you expect – hard to believe we are now three performances in there, with the fourth tonight. Our first opera there is a revival of last season’s production of Don Giovanni. Last year’s performances were conducted by Vladimir Jurowski (we’ll post a video of him talking about the piece soon), but this year Robin Ticciati is at the helm. Here’s a selection of reviews from the opening night.

Guardian
The Arts Desk
Independent
Observer
Financial Times

A few pictures snapped by our Intern Georgina of the OAE in rehearsal last week with two conductors – Roy Goodman rehearsing us at the Queen Elizabeth Hall for that evening’s performance of Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, and Robin Ticciati at the helm in rehearsal for Glyndebourne’s Don Giovanni.

Christmas and New Year just wouldn’t be the same with our favourite orchestra, would it? Well, we’re pleased  to say that whether you’re in London or not, you’ll be able to enjoy our music making in the coming couple of weeks. First off there’s a chance on Christmas Eve to hear us on BBC2, playing in Glyndebourne’s 2010 production of Don Giovanni. Vladimir Jurowski, one of our Principal Artists, conducts. The performance goes out at 2.45 on 24th December, and you can find out more about the production over on the Glyndebourne website.

Next up there are two opportunities to hear us at Kings Place giving an all Mozart programme on 31 Dec (at 6pm) and 1 Jan (at 1pm). The 1 January concert will also be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, kicking off their Genius of Mozart Season.

We hope you can join us in person or via TV or radio this festive season!

(with thanks to Michael Windsor-Ungureanu for the image)

At the Don Giovanni final rehearsal a few weeks ago (we’re perfoming it at Glyndebourne currently) I caught up with OAE Education Manager and Oboeist Cherry Forbes about her role in the opera:

Sorry about any background noise which is the OAE office team enjoying a picnic!

William Norris, Marketing Director

As you may know the OAE is currently down in Glyndebourne, where it is playing in two Mozart operas – Cosi Fan Tutte and Don Giovanni. Don Giovanni had its first night on Sunday and is conducted by our Principal Artist and Glyndebourne’s Music Director, Vladimir Juorwski. In a recent excellent interview with The Guardian he talks about his fear of conducting the opera, yoga, The Night Shift and whether Glyndebourne still has a purpose. Read the interview here.

Directors of German Bank, Commerzbank, were worried that the weather may dampen spirits at their day out at Glyndebourne as part of their support of the OAE this year.  But, sunshine was in abundance.  They never thought at a swarm of bees may get the better of them.

The day before their trip to the East Sussex Opera House a thousand strong swarm of bees hovered over the grounds.  Luckily two local bee keepers were dispatched to catch the bees before they played havoc with the opera loving crowds.

Our Development Manager, Nicolette Shaw, who accompanied Commerzbank to Glyndebourne said “there were hundreds of bees left around the trees but thankfully there was no sign of the thousands of the day before.  Glyndebourne opera lovers have to deal with sheep, wild turkeys, pheasants picking at picnics and now bees but it’s all part of the summer fun”.

Commerzbank is helping children from King’s Cross schools prepare a project led by the OAE around Don Giovanni at Glyndebourne this year.  Children from the inner city schools will be travelling to Glyndebourne on July 23rd. Beware of the killer bees 😮

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