Alessandro Fisher and Rebecca Bottone share their thoughts with Jenny Stewart on the forthcoming production of The First Commandment
Alessandro – what have your first impressions of Classical Opera been now that rehearsals have started?
AF: It’s been great – everyone is very friendly! It’s exactly what I hoped it would be. There are no airs and graces – everyone simply wants to put on the best show possible.
Becky this is your 20th engagement with Classical Opera – what are you highlights?
RB: 20th contract!!!!!! Can’t quite believe I’m old enough to say that haha. The highlight for me is definitely working with Ian. He has supported me a singer from my college years – his knowledge and talent at this repertoire is huge and as a singer he lets you fly and enjoy singing.
What is it like performing music written by an eleven-year-old?
AF: You can already tell that it’s Mozart. In my arias, he clearly already understands the voice. He does push you, using the full extent of the range and writing challenging intervals, but it’s as if he’s using the opportunity to experiment with what his singers can do. The experiments are all within the realms of possibility, but I think of it as young, excited, interested, curious writing.
RB: Honestly Mozart’s age has never crossed my mind technically with the singing, it is astonishing obviously, but singing this piece is the same process as with every role. Practice, practice, practice. The music is beautiful and full of character and gives me lots of options as a singer and performer to explore.
What is it like working on such a rare production with this team?
AF: I think singers are lying when they say they never listen to other recordings of a piece so they’re not influenced by them – everyone does it to learn the music! With The First Commandment, there is nothing else to go on, so it’s like having a blank canvas. Having to start from scratch makes the process even more interesting.
RB: I’ve worked on a few rare pieces with Ian now. The starting point is always that of a blank canvas and we get to tell the story clearly and honestly. As with any piece really, if we are portraying the story with clarity and freshness we are doing our jobs right. One of the greatest things about working with this company is the feeling that we are being ourselves and our input is valued. It’s wonderful to be part of such a talented team of performers, everyone raises the bar for everyone else.
Tell us a bit about your character.
AF: Christian’s been used as an experiment by the other characters. After a scary dream (or what he thinks is a dream) he decides to make changes. However the changes he makes are the easiest possible – instead of living a better life to avoid hell, he chooses simply to avoid dying.
RB: Weltgeist is the worldly spirit, a character who enjoys the pleasures in life and nothing else matters. A superficial character that will probably burn out quickly but her actions are not concerned with the consequences; she is truly puzzled when the Christian starts to question the deeper meaning of life.
What’s your favourite thing about being an opera singer?
AF: Variety – even if you have performed an opera several times, it’s different every time because of your colleagues, the director and the production. There are no boring moments in this job – it’s always new and different.
RB: My favourite thing about being an opera singer? Gosh that’s so hard to condense! It combines my love of expressing myself as an actress and singer. Telling stories is one of my favourite things to do, even if it’s just reading my children one at bedtime.