Behind the scenes with Simon Thorpe

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Simon Thorpe as Michele in this season’s production of Il tabarro.

As I planned the logistics of this tour way back in March, it occurred to me how much things have changed since I first hit the road. The time saved using the Internet, though, is phenomenal. Think of the timetables, maps, phone numbers and luck needed to hit sixteen different towns bang on time and fit for work ten years ago. Think of the stress saved by pushing a few buttons and having access to things like live traffic updates. God bless the Internet and God bless TomTom. I love you both.

I have also loved working at ETO again after a gap of 10 years or so. We have both grown in the interim and the experience has been incredibly positive. We rehearsed Il tabarro back in freezing January and it seems almost surreal, as a freelancing opera singer, to be with the same cast and crew still in sunny May. I’m surely one of the most ancient of the ensemble but the cross section of ages and experience in the company only adds to the vibrancy of our performances. The young lovers in Il tabarro really are young lovers – although they’re not actually lovers together. I mean, they like each other but… erm… well, you get it.

Simon before make-up and after make-up (or perhaps it’s the other way around!)

The tour is pretty full-on and the chances to meet socially amazingly scarce. You’d think a bunch of jolly thesps out on tour would find a way to sink a few flagons of ale? No, no, unfortunately not. We’re all pretty focused on putting on the best shows we can and booze and opera singing don’t mix. There is the odd serendipitous gathering however, times when there isn’t a show the next day and there is no possibility of making it home. It happened, for example, in Truro, where the cast of Il tabarro with a couple of friends and our conductor, Phil Sunderland, found themselves around the same table in the only open curry house in the whole city.

As the tour draws to a close, minds are turning to the next project and the dressing rooms are filled with early renditions of Falstaff (me), Cavaradossi (Charne Rochford) and Don Anna (Julie Unwin). I think we’re all rather sad to be moving on but such is the way of the operatic world. We’ve found ETO to be in exciting, rude health and so can only hope we’ll be back at some point in the near future to join the fun once more.

Simon Thorpe,

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