Guest Blog: Anna-Sophia Montgomery from the Scottish Young Opera Company
Anna-Sophia Montgomery from the Scottish Opera Young Company guest blogs for BroadwayWorld about opening their production of Orfeo & Euridice on Saturday 6th April at the Beacon Arts Centre in Greenock.
As cliché as it is to say that this time last year I would have never imagined I would be here, it holds true for many experiences, including mine. This time last year I was halfway through my A Levels, and preparing for my local operatic society's production of My Fair Lady in the quaint little town of Richmond, North Yorkshire. Now here I am writing this in Edinburgh Waverly Station heading back home for the last time before show week with Scottish Opera Young Company, as part of the chorus in Gluck's Orfeo & Euridice. With a combined travel time of 88 hours between rehearsal weekends and the upcoming performance, I have to ask, 'has this all been worth it?' (Spoiler alert: it definitely has).
Way back at the start of this whole process, 21st of September 2018, I felt completely out of my depth. I was the only English girl commuting to Glasgow in a room full of Scottish people with no real way of understanding what on earth anyone was saying to me. I spent my time nodding and agreeing to things I really didn't know about. I am known to be a tad dramatic in my viewpoints though and soon found that to be true again. No one cared that I wasn't Scottish, no one really noticed that I had no clue what they were saying, and no one noticed my uncontrollable hiccups until the 4th rehearsal, making all my fears void.
I felt like I was home. These were people like me, with a love for opera and theatre, who wanted to share it with the world. Coming from a town where you're the only one in the entire school studying to be a classical singer it was refreshing. I felt free to be myself with people who understood why I was obsessed with melodies or motifs. I didn't sound like the crazy lady who fan girls over a particular chord progression and squeals when they hear it. Finding people like you is completely underrated so point one goes to: definitely worth it.
Then came the rehearsal, our wonderful Musical Director Jonathon Swinard, and fabulous Répétiteur Beth Jerem guiding us through the process in the most welcoming way. There was never a moment where I wanted to be somewhere else, or thought my phone would definitely be more interesting right now. The entire rehearsal period I was effortlessly engaged and I found myself yearning to learn more. I guess some credit must go to Gluck for writing the music, but bringing it to life and having enthusiasm for it comes from those who are enabling you to explore the music in a safe nurturing environment. Point two goes to worth it.
When entering into the world of opera, I like many had the image of a soprano in a fabulous gown singing, maybe some light ballroom dancing of some sort, but nothing and I mean NOTHING could have prepared me for the intense yoga sessions and full body workouts that came with working with the amazing director Caroline Clegg.
Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I'm rubbish at sport, all those genes went to my sisters, but I found as time went on I enjoyed these sessions and was even missing them when we weren't rehearsing choreography. It gave me this new sort of motivation to be better at something I never thought I'd need, I even found myself doing salutations to the sun at home! I was intrigued by her ideas, I wanted to let go and stop thinking about how stupid I might look and think 'I am a fury. I am a literal demon from hell. I don't want to look graceful!' and oh it was fun. Imagine getting to run around singing a song about how much you're going to torture someone while wrapping them up in a rope and smiling evilly. Those are my shoes, and I LOVE them.
I feel like I don't really need to state whether or not this whole experience has been worth it because as I'm sure you can tell from the information above I certainly believe it has been. I have had the opportunity to step into a whole new world and meet new people while also having the chance to sing amazing music with people who have the same passion as me. It could be said that I stepped out of my comfort zone to do this but really it felt more like stepping into it. It's true that I never thought tying up a counter tenor with ropes and floating around the stage in mirrored masks would be my comfort zone but it has become it and for that I am entirely grateful.
Scottish Opera Young Company will be performing Orfeo & Euridice at The Beacon Arts Centre, Greenock, Saturday April 6, 7:00pm and Sunday April 7, 2:00pm.