An ethnographic study of Opera North: Artistry, community, identity. With Professor Karen Burland (DARE Academic in Residence) and Annie Czajkowski (Research Assistant).
What a lovely welcome we have had at Opera North from everyone involved in our collaborative research project! Karen and I are interested in discovering the chorus and orchestra members’ experiences throughout the artistic year and this year proves to be an interesting time to visit. Up to now, we have been on site for the last two months, getting lost in the depths of the building, climbing the multitude of stairs, and generally watching the development of Tosca and Merry Widow rehearsals and performances.
We’ve observed some wonderful work in progress such as the orchestra’s thrilling rehearsals for Tosca, and the joyous, fun-filled Merry Widow Cover Run, which, amusingly, also involved lively members of the chorus as audience members. It’s been a joy to talk to opera singers, orchestra members and management and observe them in their daily work, and we could not be happier with how friendly everyone has been and how accommodating to our needs.
Of late, we’ve been watching the development of performances highlighting the talents of the opera chorus and tied to the theme of World War I. The delightful Opera North Ladies’ Chorus, collaborating with West Yorkshire Playhouse, are going to be opening the public’s eyes to some of the fascinating stories of unsung WWI heroines (or is it heroes!?) in Not Such Quiet Girls. The Opera North Mens’ Chorus and extras have been making our spines tingle working on the glorious opera that is Silent Night. We can’t thank members of the chorus, orchestra and management enough for their support and help in this project, which we hope will provide an insight of the Opera North year for everyone and we look forward to discovering more of your stories over the next few months.