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Opera Holloway Masterclass

Posted on 28/01/2011

This month Rosalind Plowright O.B.E., a world famous opera singer, gave a masterclass to the cast of Opera Holloway’s The Marriage of Figaro. What she expected to be a dire day of singing proved to be one of discovery and excitement.

Plowright, one of the art form's grand dames, has toured extensively and sung with every big name in the last forty years. She was a favourite leading lady with each of the Three Tenors and has been critically acclaimed on stage and on record.

The masterclass, which was held in the Windsor building, was organised by Opera Holloway’s co-founders Lewis Gaston and Christopher Moon-Little. This summer they are mounting RHUL’s first ever full scale opera The Marriage of Figaro. Their aim is to get students interested in opera by staging contemporary interpretations of operas in modern day English; Figaro has been specially translated by the show’s director Christopher Moon-Little. They also want to give students at RHUL their first experience of performing opera as demanding music drama but in an environment that looks after young singers.

The masterclass focused on the songs or arias that characters in the opera have. Plowright proved to be a multi-resourced teacher giving every singer different things to think about. There were lessons in incorporating blocking and technique into one’s acting, developing technical breathing, Italian pronunciation and body language.

Every singer had half an hour with the Diva and there was not one voice she was not sincerely complementary too. Her enthusiasm for some of the OH talent was tremendous, especially Maria Listra, who plays one of the soprano leads, and  Anoosheh Dastbaz.

The day ended with a group workshop on some breathing exercises aimed at taking stress away from the voice and increasing the focus of the voice (the core of the sound). Everyone joined in on these dynamic exercises which can be emailed to any one request from Lewis Gaston.

The RHUL singers completely wowed Plowright. By the end of the day not only was she reserving tickets to the show but also said ‘the standard of singing today has been equal if not higher than most masterclasses I give to post-grads at music college and much more enjoyable.’ The day was a complete coup for RHUL as well as Opera Holloway who eagerly look forward to welcoming back Plowright to one of the performances on the 7th, 9th and 10th of June.


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