Michael Chance Countertenor


18 May, 2019

Warming up

A studio run-through is one of the main staging posts in the enthralling journey of a new opera production from first music call to first night. From now on it’s all about getting the technical bits sorted out, the set, props, lighting, costumes wigs and make-up, and a hundred-and-one other details, before the addition of the orchestra and the final few precious days when all is in place and still in rehearsal. It suddenly becomes an unstoppable rollercoaster, and from a performer’s viewpoint, rather scary. Actually everyone’s nerves start to jangle and jingle.

Yesterday we watched the run-through of The marriage of Figaro in an upstairs church hall in Hammersmith, west London. Lots of onlookers crammed against the wall. Richard Egarr conducted, Lisa Engelstein, from Cape Town, and our Figaro repetiteur played on a brash upright piano, assistants, Matteo our langauage coach, Peter Mumford our frighteningly eminent lighting designer, and the make up and costume teams made notes. Michael Moody, our Director of Operations filmed it on his little digital camera for detailed reference for the stage rehearsals, and the rest of us watched, listened and, frankly, marvelled.

All the thoughts, the challenges, the reactions, the precise intentions, the hurt, the fun, the naughtiness, and the joy were plain to see and hear. But there was something else, so often missing in performances of this transcendental opera: the danger. After all, this is the story which changed the world. All the way through, I had the sabre-point of Napoleon’s insight at the back of my mind of his description of Beaumarchais’ play, more than anything else, having caused the French Revolution. Martin Lloyd-Evans’ minutely observed production, set in a single day in a single house, so minutely aware of the musical sub-textural strata, unveils this profound moment of the Enlightenment: the reordering of society. Subtle, playful, often deeply moving, but more than anything else, revolutionary.

Michael Chance

28 April, 2019

The Grange Festival Open Day

The Open Day at The Grange, which is the launch of The Grange Festival’s summer season, was a big success. Over a thousand people came. There was dancing, and singing in the theatre, as well as a Falconry display, rare breeds of goats and sheep, lots of local food and drink suppliers in stalls, a book stall, exhibitions, and much else. Kate Dimbleby kicked it all off with her irressitible “Sing Happy’ in the theatre. She brings her looper called Roland, with which she effortlessly accumulates layers of a capella harmony and rhythm (all her own voices) and sings torch-songs and ballads and jazz and musical theatre standards over the top. She gets everybody, and I mean everybody to join in - and that is the point. We all feel so good after singing with her, however badly; but somehow it isn’t badly, because we all know exactly what we have to do. Kate’s a brilliant, effervescent, one-off. She must come back !

Michael Chance

The Grange Festival - What's On, 2019

27 April, 2019

Raynham Recitals - Venus and Adonis

Each year, there is a performance for Raynham Recitals under the title The Royal Academy of Music at Raynham. In the past students from RAM have performed Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, and Handel’s Acis and Galatea. Last weekend (April 27th) 17 singers and players came from RAM to perform to a packed Marble Hall John Blow’s Masque Venus and Adonis. We created the conceit of a courtly masque in the court of Charles 11 - Carolean courts mounted very lavish courtly pageants in which gentlemen and, uniquely, ladies of the court would dress up as mythological characters, often celebrating or lampooning in equal measure contemporary figures and current events of courtly life. Raynham has terrific relevance and resonance of this period, and the Marble Hall proved a perfect equivalent to Whitehall or some of the other great houses of the period where these massively expensive pre-operas were mounted, in which Design, Music, Dance, and witty texts all played an equal part.

Michael Chance

The Raynham Hall Recitals

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