Our Community Opera Across The Sky is just weeks away, we spoke to our Director Bryn Holding who has the job of bringing everything together for the performance.
Bryn is Associate Director of Hammerpuzzle Theatre Company and regularly works with the Everyman Theatre and The Theatre Royal Bath. He recently directed ‘The Velveteen Rabbit’ and ‘The Old Curiosity Shop’ for the Everyman’s Irving Studio as well as writing and directing On The Mend; a play commissioned by Cheltenham Remembers to commemorate the centenary of the WW1 armistice.
Opera is a relatively new form for me, so I am excited by the different level of collaboration that is involved. Usually, as a theatre director, I am in charge of everything from the outset, but this time I won’t work with the orchestra or soloists until the final weeks before the performance. For the past two weeks I’ve been rehearsing with the opera chorus and deciding how we can use the spaces in the beautiful Cheltenham Town Hall to tell this story. The composer Michael Betteridge and I are collaborating to decide the balance between how we physically tell the story and how we musically tell the story and I’m discovering how important is it to let the music have the space it needs.
What has been particularly lovely for me is working with a cast of people who completely own the story because they have shaped the lyric through Miranda’s work and the music through Michael’s work. Often when I’ve been working with a cast, the challenge is to get them to own the work. Working with community groups brings a real humanity to the performance which is very powerful. And listening to the rehearsals, the quality of the singing is astounding and with the four soloists it will be a rich and magical sound.
My job as a director is to adapt to each person’s experience, whether they are an opera star or someone who has never set foot on a stage before. I’ve got to be able to change my approach and the language I use to get the best out of the performers.
I hope the experience of the opera will resonate for a long time to come for the audience and the participants. Who knows what it might lead to?