Uh oh… Day 4

A day of wonder and an evening of slight panic. All sorted because we have a wonderful team. See ‘Jim’ in rehearsal!

Justine Boulton will now do all the stage management and handle the numerous quick costume changes. We’ve just found someone else to come in and cue the lights.


Dress rehearsal tomorrow…


Children? I couldn’t eat a whole one


Food seems to play a significant role in the Cautionary Tales. Henry King eats too much string and comes to a grisly end; Jim becomes someone else’s lunch, but not until he has wolfed down ham, cakes and chocolate with pink inside; and then there is the very important question of who is bringing the biscuits to rehearsals. We have done remarkably well so far, with a plentiful supply of artery-busting nibbles to lift us just as we hit the mid-afternoon slump. So, thank-you to the biscuit fairy.

However, being full of biscuits wasn’t ideal for all the jumping around today when we got to the final Tale. Errollyn’s music is strongly characterised for each child and gives lots of food for thought when devising a scene. George is a hyperactive, mad-scientist-in-waiting who manages to blow up his Grandmother’s house, and everyone in it, so he is pretty high-energy (Note to self: must remember to warm up properly before I throw myself about the rehearsal room in future).

We’ve also been talking a lot about the attitude towards the children in the piece. The Tales are a parody of popular C19th edifying literature (and are subtitled For The Admonition Of Children), so no sympathy is shown towards the subjects, either from other children or the adults in the stories. Peter, our pianist, tells me that, in fact, Belloc adored his own children and liked to say that he worked so hard only because they were always “screaming for caviar and pearls.”

Belloc’s delicious rhyming couplets, occasionally dodgy rhymes and period indicators of class, in the form of nurses, butlers and “the man who cleaned the billiard room” are beautifully pitched. One of the Tales that didn’t make it into Errollyn’s selection but which came into my mind after yesterday’s cabinet shuffle is Lord Lundy: “Who was too Freely Moved to Tears, and thereby ruined his Political Career”. Ah, if only…

I wonder who a contemporary set of Cautionary Tales would include today?

Day 3 tubular bells, sandwiches and In Tune interview

I was nearly late for the beginning of rehearsals because of trying to sort out parking issues for people today. SImultaneously trying to copy my Cakehead opera with a dodgy printer.

Sitzprobe in the morning minus the tubular bells. Glocks don’t QUITE sound funereal enough…

Eventually they turned up after the musicians James and John had gone home…

I ordered the sandwiches for the coach. Then realised Daniele doesn’t eat wheat. Will get him an alternative feast. Wish there were a way we could get and keep champagne cold over the weekend…

We broke early in two sessions which means we are on target. We got to the end of the show.

We’re slightly anxious that we need all the costumes as soon as possible to fully rehearse the many costume changes. We will try with substitutes tomorrow.

Caitlin Rowley my former student got a Distinction for her MFA and she was helping me bind some scores of ANON which starts rehearsing next week.

Jolly interview – as always with Sean Rafferty. Nick Mercer came along too and sat in the control room with Philip Tagney (Senior BBC Radio 3 producer). He might come along to our show at Latitude.http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0495zrx (last 20 mins)


Day 2

A most eventful day. House Services at Trinity were very helpful in moving chairs so that we could get a mountain of percussion in. It was only in the afternoon that we realised that the tubular bells were missing…

Good morning’s rehearsal with the cast. Was extremely good to have Isolde and Justine with us today. We went through the remaining costumes, materials and props to buy. Meanwhile Cathy Lewis was busy finalising the accommodation details.

Why I love Cautionary Tales so much is that it makes me laugh. The delicious Belloc texts, Pia’s witty adaption and the original illustrations of B.T.B all inspired me. The cut-out look of this new production brings out new things in the opera. There are MANY costume changes (as we have around 28 characters) so we will start marshalling the stage troops tomorrow.

Late afternoon we had or first band rehearsal. James Gambold, percussion and John Henry Baker. We only had a couple of hours but we covered the important spots throughout the score. Nifty fingerwork and leadership from Peter Foggitt.

Our team is a happy team.

Post from Clare McCaldin, mezzo, photos by Caitlin Rowley afternoon 14/7/14

So, the dressing-up box has arrived, along with some splendid 2D cut-out props and we are ready to play. By lunchtime we have Rebecca Offendort beaten into shape (Sarah Redgwick getting in touch with her inner Phil Collins) and Dawid Kimberg is, apparently, channelling Rembrandt via Richard Wilson as Uncle Jacob. By lunchtime we are ready for a lie-down. On such a beautiful day, being able to spill out onto the lawns outside Trinity Laban’s Greenwich campus where we are rehearsing, is a particular bonus. After lunch we tackle the incendiary Matilda (flames to follow) and Mark LeBrocq shows us that it is possible to play two characters at once and have a conversation with yourself, to magnificent comic effect. Fortunately there are biscuits available when my brain needs a sugar re-boot and we manage a canter through today’s achievements in the last half hour of the rehearsal. Peter “Fingers” Foggett is doing sterling work at the keyboard. Looking forward to see what develops tomorrow.


First morning

A great first morning. Nick Mercer took these photographs.


Image from Hillaire Belloc's Cautionary Tales

I am multi-tasking. Composing a new opera for Tete a Tete opera festival which starts rehearsing in a little over a week’s time which is also the week in which ANON (also at Tete a Tete) starts rehearsing.



I am also composing the music for a short film called DIVE. Received the trailer a couple of days. Music working well so far.

It is a question of partitioning the mind and creating that necessary mental space. No outlandish distractions for me for a while…

This morning we sent off the tech specs after a good conversation with Dave Warner (our sound man) as to mics which are needed and going through the percussion list to make sure we are covered sound-wise on stage. We have a one hour get-in and rehearsal next Sunday July 20th…

Because of the acoustics in a tent and noise from outside the tent I decided last week that amplifying the show is imperative but we needed someone who can read a score and is used to recording classical singers outside. Dave Warner is our man. The singers will practise with headsets in the dress rehearsal and hopefully  before that.