It’s all go in the Rutter & Gadd household. We’ll both be appearing at the Buxton Festival this year, but not together: Claire will be giving a recital with harpist Claire Jones, while I’ll be performing in two different operas, Intermezzo and L’Olimpiade.
The Claires first performed together last year while Claire Jones was still the official Royal Harpist. Their programme was extremely successful, so they’re thrilled to have another opportunity to work together. Click here to find out more
Rehearsals for Intermezzo began six weeks ago. It’s an extraordinarily challenging and complex work, and the normal system whereby singers arrive fully prepared to perform off the copy is impossible to follow. Thankfully, our director Unwin (there being three Stephens in the room we go by our public school names of Unwin, Barlow and Gadd) comes from a theatre background where actors usually arrive having barely looked at their scripts. Indeed, the opera is highly theatrical, and might easily work without any music: unusually, our rehearsals therefore follow a pattern of singing through a scene, then simply reading the words, then plotting out some staging while still speaking the script, and only then reintroducing the music. It’s a very effective way to get to the nub of the drama.
L’Olimpiade, meanwhile, is already on the road. We opened the show at the Eilat Festival in Israel back in March, and have since given the first ever UK performances of the piece at the Lufthansa Festival in London and at the Bath Festival. We’re looking forward to the Buxton performances as the first at which we will have the luxury of a proper theatre, stage, and orchestra pit! In our production all of the performers remain on stage almost throughout the piece, which is normally a terrible disappointment for us singers. I have to say, though, that there’s never a dull moment in this piece, and to listen to my colleagues on stage and in the band – La Serenissima – is a real treat.
Meanwhile, Claire and I are performing together in Madam Butterfly at Grange Park Opera near our home in Hampshire, giving us the rare opportunity to spend time in each other’s company and live at home. In recent years we have both performed there under Stephen Barlow’s baton (in Norma and in Tristan und Isolde), and hope very much to be part of his exciting plans for future years at the Buxton Festival.