Bronwen Stephens-Harding Interview
Bronwen Stephens-Harding, Director of Rogue Opera
Opera In The Park, 12 June 2022, 5.00pm — 7.00pm
Furzedown Recreation Ground
“Opera’s biggest secret is that opera is fun! People often think it’s this really serious artform where you’re only dealing with really big emotions and heart-rending moments, when actually there is a huge among of joy and fun to be had in both performing and watching it. There are, of course, the really dramatic moments where the heroines swoon or a character tragically dies, but there are also so many really joyful, massively fun moments to be had. And that’s true even in the dramatic and tragic parts. When people tell me they don’t think they will like opera or don’t think opera is for them, I start by introducing them to the characters and the stories. We all love drama on television, whether that’s reality TV shows or soap operas, and opera is really the same, it’s all these big human emotions, conflicts and turmoil, just writ extra-large. And that’s before you get to the amazing music and the power of the human voice to express emotion.
The show we’re putting on at the Wandsworth Fringe really emphasises the exuberant and fun side of opera. Performing at the Fringe always means a lot to me because Wandsworth was where I first set up Rogue Opera and where we have first presented several of our new shows. One of the many lovely things about the festival is that it is open access and the ticket prices are kept low, which makes it much easier for people to try out new things. So even if you’re not 100% sure you’ll be into opera, you can come to the park – I promise it will be sunny! – and give it a go without having to pay for a super expensive ticket.
This year, instead of performing a whole opera, we’re presenting a cabaret-style event that introduces audiences to some of the most famous characters in the history of opera and then we’re weaving their tales together so there’s a storyline winding through the whole piece. We’ll also be introducing audiences to the major roles in opera – the soprano, the mezzo, the baritone, the tenor and ‘the one on the piano’. Personally, I’m a mezzo-soprano, so my favourite roles are always the strong, independent female mezzo roles, like Bizet’s Carmen. I think mezzos always get to have the most fun – and hopefully the audience might agree with me…”
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