Clyde Opera Group – COSI FAN TUTTE – Audition calls


After the huge success we had with our “La Boheme” and “Rigoletto” projects hCFlyde Opera are preparing  their next production: Cosi fan tutte by W.A Mozart, in Italian (with English surtitles) and with double cast. This is a project to help young soloists to gain more stage experience and to learn a new role. Working with our amazing team and Orchestra of Clyde Opera Group will give singers the opportunity to improve their technique, work with the conductor in all rehearsals, then perform a full role in a well organised production, fully staged and with orchestra. This is the public’s opportunity to join us for 10 days and be part of a wonderful experience. CO’s previous performances of “La Boheme ” and “Rigoletto” were sold out- they are now convinced that the public will love this production too. Rehearsals and performances between the 19th-29th of July 2018 (GLASGOW, UK). Performances on the 28th and 29th of July 2018.

Participants must be available during the entire period of the project. This is a workshop for the training, specialization and advancement of professional opera singers. The workshop will be based on the study and practice of musical interpretation; dramatic interpretation; diction, Italian pronunciation and expression of the text; study of musical dramaturgy in the score, techniques of body movements, posture and acting; vocal ensemble and score study. The production will be double cast and participation will be based on auditions for specific roles. The program is in two parts: 1) musical rehearsals/staging and 2) fully staged opera production (with orchestra). Certain selected artists will be engaged in a concert arranged to take place in a nice little town near the sea. For anyone interested in applying, please include the following with your application: High definition photos, curriculum vitae and repertoire, as well as video-clip (YouTube), a scanned copy of your passport or equivalent identification document that is currently valid. Applicants outside Europe will have to submit the visa and / or residence permit / work permit where necessary. Note – all the applications must be sent to the following address:


Applicants who are accepted for an audition will receive notice of their acceptance by email or phone. Fees: All the participants accepted in this program will pay a participation fee. The fees are: Fiordiligi (soprano) £700, Dorabella (soprano) £700, Giglielmo (bass) £700, Ferrando (tenor) £700, Despina (soprano) £700, Don Alfonso (bass) £700. The fee includes the 11 days of the full program (masterclass, rehearsals with all our 3 pianists and orchestra, staging and singing lessons; also, lunch/every day is included + refreshments all day). If you would like to apply for 2 different roles please let us know in advance. The fee is paid in 3 instalments. If accepted into the program there is a deposit of £150 to be paid in maximum 30 days after acceptance (probably before the 25th of January 2018). The deposit is deducted from the fee. Accepted applicants will be responsible for their own flight and accommodation costs (accommodation could be provided if booked in advance for £475 -£550 / person) if you want to know more please get in touch. The organization could indicate available hotels and B & B options; information will be communicated to everyone interested by email.

Deadline for applications is 10th of December 2017 (interviews/auditions to happen before Christmas). If applying from abroad CO could organise Skype interviews or auditions. For more information email:


La Traviata

Theatre Royal, Glasgow
19th October 2017

Opera is back in Scotland, & what a divine choice. With La Traviata, Verdi plunges a belladonna-tipped dagger into the vibrant heart of licentious 19th century Paris, where socialites erupt in scandal at every turn. As melodramatic as they come, it is probably after watching Verdi’s sublime masterpiece (conducted by David Parry) that some television executive first coined the phrase ‘soap opera.’ In 2017, as the silky black, heavy tree-bark curtains rose, Tanya McCallin’s startlingly luxuriant set was revealed & thus the action – & the music – could commence.

Lets drink from the joyful glasses where the beauty flourishes
Everything in the world is folly if there is no pleasure

At the heart of a euphoric ensemble lies a courtesan called Violetta – the fallen women – whose otherworldly warbling drives like a drunken sultana through the oriental flesh-pots of Verdi’s sensuous music. ‘A poor lonely woman abandoned in this desert called Paris,‘ her love for Alfredo has compelled her to sell off all her possessions in order to impress him. Think a modern-day, cocaine-snorting city hedonist with a purse full of credit cards. This perilous state of affairs then grows quite complicated with the introduction of Giorgio – Alfredo’s macchinating father – & incurable tuberculosis.

Violetta was played with poise & tragic alacrity by young Russian-Dutch soprano, Gulnara Shafigullina, only two years since her debut at the Volkstheater Rostock (Germany) with Donna Anna in Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Projecting her gaze far into the distance, Gulnara is extremely sensitive to her part, with a vimful voice she wove her increasingly tragic melodies like an expert stitcher of tapestries, intertwining them with the moving singing of Alfredo’s lively Dutch tenor, Peter Gijsbertsen, who despite being a tad quiet at times, is still a marvelous actor who took emotion-bending to the next level. ‘I have forgotten the world – I feel like I am in heaven,‘ he sings in picturesque Italian, but complicating his love for Violetta was his disapproving father –  played by Stephen Gadd –  who sang with an obsidian-polished resonance & sported a most sublime moustache.

At the heart of La Traviata’s elongated yet elastic happenstance lies one of the greatest scenes in Opera; Flora’s Ball, full of dancing, bottom-bulging matadors; fan-waving, tambourine-tapping gypsies; & those living, breathing gargoyles of the Paris of Baudelaire. Candlelight, darling dresses, chandeliers & jewels; among them mezzo-soprano Lithuanian Laura Zigmantaite’s Flora struts with extreme & stand-out sensuality in a rose-pink dress, stealing the show for a moment, before Violetta enters in crimson with the Baron. So many levels, so much beauty.

I love this opera, Verdi’s sense of timing is impeccable, with each mellow lull leading to a champagne moment of cork-popping, note-fizzing enflourishment. ‘The drama is woven tightly into the orchestral writing,’ Susan Rutherford explained to The Mumble. Hyperdramatic but unpompous, the music & melodies sweep into the mind like brushes on an abstract painting – & it is all so much fun to watch. Production-wise, Scottish Opera have excelled themselves on this occasion, having collated & created a team full of debutantes & seasoned pros that springs bouyantly close to Verdi’s original vision.

Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen
Photography : Jane Hobson

Scottish Opera presents La Traviata, at the Theatre Royal Glasgow from October 19th, before touring to Aberdeen, Inverness and Edinburgh from November 2nd. 

You can buy tickets here.


An Interview with Clementine Lovell

Pop-Up Opera are in the middle of touring Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel. The Mumble managed to catch up with Clementine Lovell for a few words.

Clementine Lovell NEW.jpg

Hi Clementine, where were you from and where are you living today?
Hello! I grew up in a small village in Herefordshire, playing outdoors on farms and in the woods with my siblings. There was nowhere nearby or affordable to see opera which is partly what has inspired me to bring opera to rural communities around the UK. I now live in north London with my husband Harry and our 23 month old son Innes, and run the company from here. I love London because of the network of friends, fellow parents, musicians, and creative people around me, and constantly meeting new people to collaborate with and share ideas. That said, I love going home to the countryside and seeing my family whenever I can.

When did you begin to understand you had a gift for music?
Singing has been there from my very earliest memories. I sang all the time, to myself, my brothers, anyone who would listen (sorry extended family). We did a lot of music and singing at the Steiner school where I went age 3-14. Our family holidays were always to the SW of Ireland and I began performing folk music in the pubs there aged 10, singing and playing piano accordion. If you could stop the noisy people at the bar talking with a song you knew it was a good one. There was always music playing in our house, mainly folk and blues, but my paternal Grandfather took me to classical concerts from very young. I studied with the soprano Elizabeth Ritchie from age 12 and she was a gift, a wonderful teacher and supporter. I won a music scholarship to a boarding school under her guidance and discovered the exhilaration of choral music as well as beginning to study opera.

Can you tell us about your studies in Italy? Does this mean Italian opera is your favourite?
I graduated from the Guildhall School of Music but felt like my languages were holding me back from the next step in my career. I’d always felt a connection with Italy and the Italian language and repertoire. I decided the best way to learn would be to live there.
Plus, any excuse! Harry and I moved out there with no Italian, no jobs, no money, it was a bit scary, but we made a life there and ended up staying two years. I found a wonderful teacher Romina Vigne and taught in a local school to pay the bills. I performed my first opera roles there and just absorbed the language and culture. Opera is very broadly appreciated there and doesn’t have the same elitist reputation that puts many people off here. Everyone goes and they aren’t reverential about it. This is a huge part of what inspired me to set up Pop-Up Opera. Italian is still my favourite language to sing opera in but not necessarily always my favourite opera genre. I’m absolutely loving hearing our cast perform Hansel & Gretel in German at the moment, the music is sublime and the evening prayer makes me cry every

As a soprano, what are the secrets to delivering a good performance?
I think for any performer it’s passion and drive, studying and knowing the piece inside out, communicating to an audience but letting them come to you, letting go of self consciousness, looking after yourself, and also having a supportive team around you helps a lot.

What are your favourite operas to both watch & to perform in?
I absolutely loved performing in the bel canto operas L’elisir d’amore and Don Pasquale, and also Giulietta in I Capuleti was a dream role. There are many operas I love watching; the enjoyment often comes from the quality of the production and the performers as wellb as the opera itself.

What is your favourite aria to sing?
Singing Mozart is always an absolute joy. I loved singing Giulietta’s aria O Quante Volte, it’s so beautiful and raw. Giulietta is the last role I did, when Innes was three months old. Since then performing opera has had to take a back seat. The company has grown a lot and we are now doing around 90 performances a year. Running it and producing our shows and tours is a full time job and we are a small team with a growing output. Plus I’m running around after a toddler! The company is so important to me and I want to put
everything into building it. Part of me will always be a performer, but I am singing more folk music again at the moment, which I absolutely love.

What do you like to do when you’re not being musical?
I love walking, swimming in the sea, spending time with friends, eating and drinking, dancing, reading, reading to my son, exploring new places, listening to music and going to concerts and gigs.

Can you tell us about Pop-Up Opera?
We take opera to places where you wouldn’t normally find it and to people who wouldn’t normally watch it. The aims of the company came initially from my experiences. Folk music is generally very inclusive but opera is often viewed as inaccessible. Friends often dismissed opera as not their thing, one even claimed to be “allergic” to it. I wanted to prove them wrong, to show them that opera could be magical, hilarious, devastating or moving. I started with my uncle’s cider barn and put on an opera there for a largely nonopera going audience. They loved it. It made me think about how the setting can have a bearing on people’s enjoyment, or their willingness to give it a go. The venue has a bearing on the performance itself, and each new space presents a challenge. The production grows and evolves as it pops up in different places. We stage it in the rehearsal room and then adapt it to embrace each venue, so every night is different. The performance spaces vary wildly in size, shape, acoustic, and feeling. We get in to the space on the day and start working out the entrances, exits, how to involve the audience…. The performers have to think on their feet, and be willing to allow some freedom and spontaneity. This keeps it fresh and creates a very special atmosphere. Our projected captions have become part of our signature style. We believe that you can still make opera accessible when performed in the original language. The music, the intentions of the actors, the interaction between the characters, and the power of the drama get the story across. The captions are there to compliment, not to detract. They keep the audience broadly abreast of the story but don’t demand their attention all the time. With a comedy, the captions can add another layer of humour, and we can play around with the modern context.

Can you tell us about your creative relationship with Fiona Johnston?
I run the company with my business partner and co-producer, Fiona Johnston. My partnership with her, and the work we have put in to building the company and the relationships with our venues forms its foundation. She is an amazing person who puts everything into what she does and is brilliant at it. She came on board as our stage manager and then started helping my out with the producing side of things. We work very well together and bounce off each other creatively. We think alike and yet bring different things to the mix. We both care deeply about the company and have a shared artistic vision for it.


Pop-Up Opera are touring Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel this Autumn. Why this
We have honed our ability to boil an opera down to its essence: the music, the drama and the relationships between characters is what brings the story to life. Working on a fairytale is exciting because it’s one of the most beloved forms of storytelling, and offers both moments of comedy and layers of darkness. It also is very atmospheric in the amazing spaces we go to.

How is this particular opera standing up after a century?
Our production has a modern aesthetic and narrative, but the fairytale of Hansel & Gretel is timeless. It’s a story everyone knows and can relate to on some level. It taps into our sense of playfulness, our childhood selves, our fears for our children and about the world.

What does the rest of 2017 hold in store for Pop-Up Opera?
We are touring Hansel & Gretel until late November, and are very excited to include the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green as well as two performances at the the V&A Kensington as part of their new exhibition ‘Opera: Passion, Power and Politics’. We are
excited to collaborate with the Royal Opera House Learning and Participation department to bring young people from the Youth Opera Company to see the production. The Asylum in Peckham will be an amazing atmospheric venue for Hansel & Gretel. Simultaneously, we are busy programming the tours for next year, liaising with both regular and new venues. It’s an exciting time for the company, and we have lots of ideas and plans brewing. Watch this space!


18.11.17 & 19.11.17 : V&A MUSEUM – LONDON

An Interview with Eamonn Dougan

This Friday, the Lammermuir Festival will be bringing Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera to the Brunton in Musselburgh. The Mumble managed to catch a few words with its conductor…


Hello Eamonn, where were you from and where are you living today?
Both my parents are Irish, but I was born in the UK so have a foot in both camps. Home is now Haywards Heath in Sussex.

When did you begin to understand you had a gift for music?
I always loved music from an early age. One of my earliest memories is of sitting in on my sister’s piano lesson & enjoying listening to the sound of the piano.

Can you tell us about your work with The Sixteen?
I’ve been working with the group for about 14 years now initially as a singer and now also as associate conductor. The main focus of my conducting with the group has been a series of five recordings of Polish baroque music, but I also conduct a number of concerts on the choral pilgrimage each year & work closely with Harry Christophers, with Genesis Sixteen, our training scheme for young singers.

How did you get into conducting?
I started as school, but it really took off at university where I set up all manner of different groups, including a barber shop quartet, an acapella choir & a baroque instrumental ensemble.

What are the secrets to being a good conductor?
Learn what to do from good conductors & what not to do from less good ones. Also remember its never about you.

What does Eamonn Dougan like to do when he’s not being musical?
Simply, be at home with my wife & two sons.

You are performing at this year’s Lammermuir Festival. Is this your first time & if not what is the history?
First time – looking forward to it enormously.

You will be conducting La Finta for Ryedale Festival Opera at the Brunton next week. Why this piece?
The choice was mad by Christopher Glynn, artistic director of Ryedale Festival. Its a great piece, especially to do with young singers… perhaps.

La Finta is one of Mozart’s earliest operas. What are the differences between this & his later masterpieces?
Mozart is still cutting his teeth in Finta G & you feel it principally in the dramatic pacing. The arias are often too long & he’s sometimes too interested in showing how clever he is. In the ensembles you only tend to hear one voice at a time (unless they are all singing the same text) – compare that to the ensembles in Figaro.

WEB Ryedale Festival Opera La Fintaw Giardiniera credit Matthew Johnson.jpg

Ryedale Festival Opera

The libretto is a new English translation by John Warrack. How are you finding it?
Brilliant. I’m a big fan of doing opera in the vernacular & John has made it crystal clear & very amusing.

What does the rest of 2017 hold in store for Eamonn Dougan?
It’s a busy time – a tour of Japan with The Sixteen, Mozart’s Requiem in an arrangement for ‘Harmonie; wind band, directing my first Monteverdi Vespers & conducting The Sixteen in Belgium, including a world premiere of a new Magnificat by Thomas Hyde.

Photographer Benjamin Harte

Robert White : InstruMENTAL


Gilded Balloon Teviot
Until August 27th (15.15)

Now and then you see something so original and unexpected you will never see things the same way again. This is one such show. Right from even before the show starts when we are serenaded in our seats by the cheesy keyboard stylings of a song who’s only lyric is “Waiting for the show to start” you know you could be in for a treat. Then when an anemic, awkward, googly eyed creature with a Tin Tin  haircut walks on to the stage and starts apologizing for the show before it’s even begun you know it could go either way. And, truth be told by the audience reaction, it went both. Either stunned into confused, uneasy silence, storming off in disgust or beaming and cackling with delight. Thankfully I fell into the later category and frankly see it as a damning condemnation of humanity to react any other way. What was not to love?

The music itself was a monumental achievement. Almost an hour of uninterrupted ebbing and flowing of Gershwin like melodies done through your little brothers shitty Yamaha PSR keyboard. Endless musical motifs, references and jokes. And jokes there were so many. Like the airplane films if there was one you didn’t find funny now there was bound to be one coming up that you’d find hilarious. Or as in much of this show’s humor, one you’d be clever enough to understand. And this was one of the beauties of the show. There was absolutely no attempt to dumb it down for a mass audience. And in these days of emojies, made in Chelsea and Donald Trump that is certainly a refreshing change. Lyrically he was outstanding. To be quite honest I don’t think I’ve ever heard wittier or better constructed comedy lyrics anywhere. One song was literally just all the expressions for being gay – but they all rhymed! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

A gay, autistic bulimic man singing a comedy opera about his time spent in prison and mental breakdown may not be to everyone’s taste but it damn well should be. Outsiders are often the only real voice out there and that’s why everyone should listen to them but then, if they did, I guess they wouldn’t be outsiders anymore. That being said Robert White should be the biggest comedy star on TV today. He is like no-one else before and I expect since. He should be hosting the panel shows and participating as all the contestants. Step aside Jimmy Carr, your time is (thankfully) up. And you can’t even play a decent trumpet! So remember this name – Robert White. If there is any justice in the world the star of tomorrow. Just come and see the show I implore you. You may love it, you may hate it, but whatever happens you’ll remember it. And isn’t that the important thing? Like Lars Von Trier said – “Great art should be like a stone in the shoe” and Robert White is a fucking great Boulder.

Reviewer : Steven Vickers


The Marriage Of Kim K


C Venues
Aug 11-15, 17-22, 24-28 (21.50)

Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant!
A unique and very clever stage production bubbling Andy Warhol Art Pop Panache. A love Story told in three parts that coexist together through the medium of Opera. With a String quartet and a Hip Hop band, blending classical music with funky electronica, this is a feast for senses, that is at once lovely to witness. The cast are all extremely good looking and the genius of the book and stagecraft is nothing less than entertainment at its very, very best. Like a sailor to a siren I had been drawn to the beauty of The Countess singing her part in The Marriage Of Figaro on The Royal Mile after afternoon prayers in Saint Giles. The Countess had a face that was equally as beautiful as her voice. but it was her voice that stole me. So I pleaded with the Mumble editor to arrange for me to review this magic piece work. What I witnessed in this capacity  was not what I was expecting. But this made things delightfully entertaining.

It all begins with the heroes of the show settling in on the cuddle couch. Amelia has just secured a job as a Lawyer and Stephen is a struggling composer, both are at the end of a busy day & Amelia wants to watch Kim Kardashian’s televised 72 day marriage with NBA Basketball Star Kris Humphries , while Stephen wants to watch The Marriage of Figaro. At first compromise with the remote control for the telly is workable. Now this is when the stagecraft bursts alive and the switch between Rhythm and Blues and a chamber orchestra becomes palatable. When the remote control was pressed by Amelia, her choice was represented on the left side of the stage. Kim all figure hugging pants and lace sexiness, with the passion of a new married couple, Kris all butch muscular testosterone with one thing on his mind and it wasnae basketball.

When Stephen takes control of the box we are taken back in time to the Marriage Of Figaro. The Count is being a bit of a canute, wooing Wwmen with his literary skills, The Countess gets wind of this and this is where the problems start. Both the Count and the Countess looked fantastic. All period frills and elegant ball gowns. It was right up Divine’s street, Once a New Romantic always a New Romantic. So on the right hand of the stage a fully blown opera. With the Countess giving a mesmerising performance (Divine was awestruck) this is when the stage lighting was brought into full effect. Two marriages on the brink of collapse and one relationship struggling because of telly choices. All sung in fine voice. Sexy & marvellous & sexy entertainment indeed.

Reviewer : Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert


An Interview with Ivan Fischer


Where were you born/where did you grow up and where are you living today?
Our bedroom’s window opened to Andrássy út across the Budapest Opera House. I spent my childhood watching this building where Gustav Mahler was opera director for a few years. When I was 8, I got my first subscription as a birthday present. I had a diary then, noting which singer I liked or disliked and why. Now I live in Berlin and Budapest.

When did you begin to understand you had a gift for music?
Coming from a musical and theatrical family this question was never asked. My father was a composer/conductor/ translater of operas into Hungarian and my mother should have become a singer. We discussed music, culture and literaure around the dinner table. I learned to read music before reading letters.

You have music in your bones. Is this natural or has it taken some training?
We were brought up by the Kodály method, an excellent school. Studying piano, violin and finally cello also helped. Training is very important at an erly age.
You play several instruments. Which of these would you say was your forte?
When I graduated with cello in Vienna, I realised that I am not really an instrumentalist. Repeating the same works and practicing for many hours didn’t appeal to me. I was interested in the meaning of music and art in general. And I was interested in working with people.

What does Iván Fischer like to do when he’s not being musical?
Now that I am also directing operas, this profession seems much more real: being responsible for the sound alone was never exciting. Being responsible for the essence of a work is really me.

You are the founder and Music Director of the Budapest Festival Orchestra, can you tell us about the company?
It is an excellent and innovative orchestra. I achieve the best results with them, although I am fortunate: I can work with the best orchestras of the world.


What are the secrets to being a good conductor?
You need to be a good, well trained musician, and a good, responsible human being. Conducting means absorbing the work completely and passing t it on to an orchestra and an audience. The absorbing process needs musical qulities and the sharing process needs human qualities.

In recent years you have been steadily gaining an international reputation as a composer. What has motivated you to begin creating new music?
I discovered this gift relatively late because I was so busy as a conductor. Composing needs time and a quiet place. Now I always compose in a small Hungarian village. It is the greatest pleasure at the moment.

You will be performing at this year’s Edinburgh International Festival, can you tell us about it?
Next to a concert I will present my Don Giovanni production that was first performed in Budapest and New York in 2011. Now I changed many details, extended the concept and I think this production can now be seen in a more mature version.

What does the rest of 2017 hold in store for Ivan Fischer?
Many tours and the finishing of my new children’s opera.

You can catch Ivan & Don Giovanni in Edinburgh this August

9 – 12 August 2017 : Festival Theatre