Today was the first session working on the Blackheath Halls Community Opera education project at Addey and Stanhope School.
Count Ory is all about disguise, passion, melancholia. Rossini wrote it with early 19th century for a French audience, so it is bawdy and full of comedy. Rossini (of William Tell fame) was a genius with melody and orchestration and it is gripping and soaring music with plenty of surprise.
There is not really very much in the way of back story or deep and meaningful interpretation, just a lot of fun. It's basically a cartoon in which a young count dresses as a holy man to woo the heart of a young woman who is suffering from melancholia. It is not a bourgeois malady that Brecht would have painted, nor similar to Lady Macbeth's descent into madness. She's just a melancholic and Ory is there to get his way with her. Spoiler alert!! It doesn't happen. He tries everything (well, not really, but he does dress up as a hermit, which she sees through and he then tries another tack and dresses up as a Nun. There is a basic flaw in his plan though. Why would she ever consider going out with someone who poses as a nun?
The young students at Addey and Stanhope School in Deptford were great. They threw themselves in to the project and following rhythm workshops, doing physical theatre as Italian waiters with plates and then listening to boots of the Opera and reflecting on it.
The results were positive, one young person said that a sad tune tine would sound better if it were sped up and had an R&B beat put to it. That is definitely a way to go. There were some lovely melodic ideas built around the theme of the colours of melancholia and so many other creative thoughts and talent. Combined with the guitars, ukeleles, beats and Afrobeat, it is going to be hard to fit it all into a 15 minute piece.
A big thank you to Mr Teager (Head of Music at A&S school) and students Dinu and Claire from Trinity Laban for volunteering their time to help with the leadership. Also Helen from TL Learning and Participation and to Anna Wyatt who has set the whole thing up. Can't wait until next week when we all meet for the second time and get cracking toward the final showing on July 15th.
Link to the Blackheath Halls production of Count Ory here.