Chatteris Review by Rosemary Westwell

Kirsty, Toni, Jochem & Sue at Chatteris 21st June 2014
We had a wonderful night at Chatteris on Midsummer night (21st June) and so too did the audience – here’s what the reviewer said:

Hatstand Opera presented some golden moments from opera on Saturday in Chatteris for the Music Society. This was one of the many high profile events the Society has organised and it was, indeed, a series of ‘golden’ moments. Opera favourites were mixed with lesser known delights in this varied programme and the evening ended with some highly entertaining re-workings of more, familiar tunes. The whole evening was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, because not only was the singing first-rate but joy and humour regularly infused the programme, leaving us mesmerised.

Toni Nunn (soprano), Kirsty Young (mezzo), and Jochem van Ast (baritone) were in fine voice and very ably accompanied by pianist Sue Graham Smith. Songs were sung mostly in English but we were entertained with some delightful numbers in their original language. The French sounds of ‘The Flower Duet’ helped to make this one of the most memorable items. Toni and Kirsty’s voices were perfectly matched in this piece as were all voices in ‘Soave sia il vento’ from Cosi fan Tutte by Mozart.

The highlight for me was Toni’s performance of ‘Vissi d’arte’ from Puccini’s ‘Tosca’. The Italian language, the smooth phrases infused with passion and, of course, the wonderful voice was transfixing. Kirsty and Jochem were also impressive singers and their characterisation and humour were most engaging. There was not a dull moment in this array of opera gems. Meanwhile, constantly providing expert support was Sue Graham Smith on piano. No matter how intricate or rapid the accompaniment, she played with absolute security and accuracy, adapting to the songs’ mood swings perfectly.

This was a highly entertaining evening well worthy of its enthusiastic support.


Hatstand in Cambridgeshire

Remember to get your tickets early for our return to Chatteris.

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Back in Cambs: we’re chatting about our return to Chatteris

Back in Cambs: we’re chatting about our return to Chatteris

There are certain clients that are very much part of Hatstand’s heritage, and Chatteris Music Society is one of these! So we’re thrilled to be making a return visit on Saturday 21st June to the Church of St Peter and St Paul, with our iconic show “Golden Moments from Opera”

“Golden Moments from Opera”, our selection of the best bits of opera you never thought you knew, is actually never the same show twice! Each show is tailor-made to the venue and the audience, and thanks to our database of performances, we know precisely what we sang at any of our performances over the last 20 years. (Scary but true!) So, we can avoid too many repeats and incorporate favourite items too.

Since we also vary the line-up for the gentlemen singer and the pianist, each cast has their own music we can choose from. For Chatteris, we’re delighted to have baritone Jochem van Ast, fresh from singing in the chorus at both the ROH and ENO, and pianist Susan Graham Smith, one of the most versatile players we know and who makes our digital piano sound superb!

S, what will we sing on the night? To be honest, we don’t know 100% yet ourselves!  We do a first draft programme using the database, and then add in new numbers, items that we think the knowledgeable and fun-loving audience at Chatteris will enjoy, and shake well! This process keeps the show fresh and enjoyable for everyone, especially the audience.  We can’t tell you the exact formula we use (it’s a closely guarded secret like the KFC spice mix!), but the result has been delighting audiences across the UK and beyond since our first performance back in March 1993.

Why not join us in Chatteris for more hilarious scenes and heart-rending arias from the world’s favourite operas – we look forward to seeing you there!

We’re in Surrey on 5th April – don’t miss us!

We’re back in Surrey at last! – Saturday 5th April in aid of 2 great charities!.

A BYO Bite at the Opera! Come and join us for a great evening of our favourite numbers and some new ones too!

More hilarious scenes and popular arias from the world’s favourite operas; deliciously witty, delightfully sung.

“I generally prefer opera’s greatest hits, so Hatstand’s opera cabaret is perfect.

Lovely…A great success”  The Guardian

For the full details click here or the pic!

Call Jo on 01252 718 098 to book your tickets. (£15)

Everyone needs a good Laugh at the Opera now and then!

A Laugh at the Opera Suffolk Sat August 24 2013

Suffolk, it’s time to have a good time at the opera! Forget depressing story lines and angst-ridden singers, Hatstand Opera will be raising the roof at the Brick Kin Barn in Sibton with “A Laugh at the Opera”, on Saturday 24 August at 7.30pm.

This highly entertaining show is a fun easy way into opera, a ‘chocolate box’ assortment of highlights, featuring comic chaos and crazy characters from the world’s favourite operas. Presented in our trademark informal and often irreverent style, this terrific show ensure everyone can have a good chuckle with opera, whether newbie or complete opera geek. We always say our shows are like the weather; if you don’t like what we are singing, wait 5 minutes and it’ll change!

And talking of weather, the show is presented in the Courtyard of the lovely Brick Kiln Barn in Sibton, with the gorgeous barn itself on standby should the August Bank Holiday prove to be inclement. The Courtyard is open for ‘bring your own’ picnics from 5.30pm, with the show starting at 7.30pm. There’s a licensed bar for drinks, a raffle for champagne, and a complimentary drink on arrival.

 

Lights Camera Action in Godalming – cancelled

APOLOGIES – this performance has been cancelled, but we hope to come back to Godalming very soon!

Lights, Camera… Action!

The songs behind famous movies, from opera to silver screen classics

Nothing brings a classic film scene to life like a great soundtrack. Hatstand Opera bring the music behind the movies back into the limelight!

From opera classics to famous screen songs, you’ll love these timeless tunes presented in glorious colour by “The enterprising stars of Hatstand Opera” The Times.

After the Intermission, it’s non-stop, toe-tapping, wonderful award-winning songs that’ll send you “Over the Rainbow” with supercalifragilistic delight! Play it (again), Sam!

Read more at the Lights, Camera, Action page.

 

Opera in Frinton – how we keep our shows fresh!

On Saturday, we’ll be back at the marquee on the Greensward to entertain the good folks of Frinton on Sea with one of our classic shows, “Romance at the Opera“.

This is our seventh visit to Frinton, and we’ll be singing opera extracts we’ve never performed there before – guaranteed. This isn’t because we’re blessed with instant recall memories, it’s because we’ve got a database listing all our performances back to 1998. (And scanned printed records back to 1992!)

Sad but true.

Actually, this database is at the very heart of our show preparation. Every item we sing is listed, and we’re up to 915 at present. (It would be 1022, but we’ve deleted some items we only ever sang once.) Every item is linked to who in the HSO cast sings it, what costume they wear, what prop they need, how long the item is, what language(s) we sing it in, and even where the sheet music is stored.

So, we simply type in the item numbers for each show and voila, we create a record of what we sang, when, and where. And if we cahnge the items we sing on the night, we update the database on our return. This way, if we’re doing a classic show, we can avoid repeat items at venues we visit often, like Frinton.

Sadly, this does mean that in the office, we tend to describe a show like a Chinese takeaway menu: “OK, so we’ll start with a 22, make sure there’s a 3 in there, and we do 898 before the 376.”

That’s “We’ll start with the Brindisi from la Traviata, make sure we include Sull’aria from Nozze di Figaro and we’ll sing a duet from Merry Widow before the Encore” in case you were wondering.

As the saying goes, simples!

Happy & Glorious: how we create a bespoke opera show

We’re often asked to create special shows for clients at Hatstand Opera, and we very much enjoy crafting a great evening’s entertainment based around the client, the venue, the audience and a theme – or more likely, all four!

So, when the Lower Bourne Show committee invited us back for our third visit this year, we decided to create something special for this popular event, as the performance date fell between the Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics. It seemed fitting to create a show that combined a sense of pomp and circumstance with a sense of anticipation that Team GB might actually win a medal!

We often find our best show titles at the bottom of a bottle of Chardonnay, but this one, appropriately enough, just required a pot of rather nice Lady Grey tea – “Victorious, Happy & Glorious”

You might think the music comes next, but due to logistics and the time required to sell a show, it’s actually the brochure copy (selling text) and the flyer design.

Kirsty writes the words to fit what we think we might sing (i.e. keep it generic!) and soprano Toni does the artwork – she’s a real whizz at Photoshop!

Now that the print is underway, we choose music that fits the event-specific criteria:

• regal, sporting, or British (all 3 is a push!)
• suitable for an audience who come for a picnic and a great night out
• suitable for a marquee – so that rules out anything very low, very quiet or exceptionally wordy if it’s windy
• includes the client’s favourites – G&S esp. The Gondoliers, anything with a military connection, and “Nella Fantasia”!
• in the repertoire of our cast of soprano, mezzo, baritone

That gives us a list of at least 40 numbers to choose from, and it’s at this point that the top secret Hatstand show recipe is applied. Of course we’re not going to tell you exactly what that entails, but suffice to say it involves checking the compatibility of one item to the next, the flow of fun and emotion in each half, who has sung more than three in a row, and who doesn’t need to sing two solos in every show (usually Kirsty…)

Finally, we work out the look of the show, pull together costumes, props and set decorations, and check it all works as a cohesive whole. And if (when) it does, we can work these bespoke shows up into our main touring show for the next year if required.

If you want to see and hear the results, see our HSO performance diary for details on how to get your tickets!

HSO go all romantic at Frinton on Sea

HSO are back in Frinton on Sea again this summer with Romance at the Opera, where sparks fly, passion ignites and love explodes like stars.

Join Hatstand for melting romantic moments and divine declarations of love – and some of the moments when the course of true love n’er runs so smooth!

Frinton’s favourite opera company present a mixed bouquet of vocal delights for the romantic in everyone, including a lovestruck Puccini poet, a flighty wife and a naughty diplomat.

And of course, in true Hatstand Opera style, there’s a minx or a madam causing mayhem and mischief in there too…