As well as directing the Young Artist show this year, I also lead the Opera for Thought outreach sessions at Opera Holland Park. I was the main facilitator for the six week project which works with local people living with dementia and their carers in collaboration with Westminster Arts. Running participation sessions and leading outreach work like this is a big part of what I do as a freelancer and hugely influences the work I make as a director too. For me, my question is always how can I make the art relate to the wider community and how can we make this project something for everyone to engage in. The opportunity to direct the Young Artist show and lead the concurrent outreach was a pleasure and I'd love to make more work that crosses over like this again. I have done similar work on a project I designed with Indomitable Productions called An Album of Memories.
We explored the opera Don Giovanni, learning about the narrative, characters and themes with singing and listening to music at the heart of every workshop. One or two of the Young Artist cast came in each week where we spoke to them about their journey as an artist, as well as of course having the pleasure of hearing them perform an aria or duet.
The sessions broke down like this:
Week one - Introduction to Don Giovanni with Vedat Dalgiran where we all learnt the famous lines of the Commandatore as he returns to drag the main character to hell.
Week two - Donna Anna
Week three - Women with Leporello. Darwin Prakash performed No.4 'Madamina' and the group used his adjectives and descriptive words throughout the aria to creat and draw new love conquests that Don Giovanni might have found.
Week four - Love and Marriage with Zerlina and Masetto. With Eleanor Sanderson Nash and Ricardo Panela the group formed the chorus in No.5 singing and performing the little scene in Giovinette che fate all'amore together.
Week five - Advice for Leporello. With Darwin Prakash back in the room we heard some of Leporello's other sections of music and text and looked overall at his character's journey. With a job he wants to quit, no satisfaction in his life and dodgy morals the group offered some advice and life lessons to the character of Leporello which we built and created into an art instillation which stayed up for the whole season at the Park.
Week six - Opera Holland Park. The group visited the Park this week to watch the Young Artists rehearse on stage with the chorus and attended a back stage tour with talks from the costume department. We also were able to perform our version of Don Ottavio's 'Dalla sua pace' on stage with the associate conductor Harry Ogg. The following week everyone returned to Opera Holland Park again for a picnic and to watch the matinee performance of Don Giovanni.