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My very own baby production company.

This week has involved a lot of back and forth between that-which-shall-not-be-named, rehearsals, and gigs.  I’m taking a break from the nameless now to tell you a bit more about OperaDans, my baby production company.

First show: Sweet Solitude
When: 20:00, June 25, 2009
Where: Het Nutshuis, Riviervismarkt 5, 2513 AM, Den Haag
Tickets:  Regular €17 or Students €10 (Price includes a glass of wine. )
Contact: info@operadans.com

I’ve been in the Netherlands for just over two years, and while most of that time has been spent working on “the nameless” and gaining skills related to counselling musicians and performers (see my about page), I’ve also been keeping my ear to the ground for singing gigs.  Singing and psychology might seem like a bit of a contrast, but it’s always been my plan to work as a psychologist for musicians and to sing.  But recently my goal has been changing.  It’s strange because as much I love research, writing, and teaching, I’ve found that lately the more time I spend on my academic work, the more I miss singing.  I need a balance.  I need both.

I’m guilty of taking singing for granted.  I’ve always just done it and never questioned it.  Someone needs a singer, they call me.  Easy.  But now that I’m in The Netherlands I’ve had to start all over again building my musical networks.  I’ve done it before in England, and before that in Toronto, but here in Holland the language barrier makes getting started again much more difficult.  I’ve never had to go to cold auditions before.  I’ve always gotten work through colleagues (Hey, nepotism is rife in the music industry, just like any other).  But here in Holland I’ve gone to a few auditions and gotten a distinct “nice voice, but Nicole WHO?” response from the panels.  Which has left me feeling a bit discouraged.  But strangely, also quite motivated.  The more resistance I get, the more I want to fight.   The less I sing, the more I want to.  I sent an audition pack to Cirque du Soleil that has successfully gotten me onto their roster of artists.  But now, due to the economic crisis I suppose, their hiring seems to have slowed.  I haven’t seen a new singing job posted on the Cirque site for a few months.  I really can’t count on them for work.  So I decided I needed to make my own work.  Something that I could do no matter what country I was in.  Something that I wouldn’t have to start over from scratch every time.  Enter: OperaDans.

OperaDans came into my head literally within days of moving to Den Haag.  The Opera part of the name makes a certain amount of sense as I’m a classical singer, but the Dans (Dutch for dance) part needs a bit more explanation… Well, it’s quite simple, really: The Netherlands is internationally renowned for its modern dance academies (e.g. codarts) and I found that really inspiring.  I love dance- especially modern, and I guess I wanted a piece of the dance action because I was never a dancer myself.  I’m definitely more of a sporty girl; athletics, Thai boxing, squash… does yoga count as dance?  Ok, I did a bit of jazz dance when I was 10 -12 and I’ve been dancing flamenco for a while now, but I don’t really call myself a dancer.  And here I found myself with a giant pool of trained dancers literally on my doorstep.  It was an amazing opportunity to take advantage of a creative resource that I couldn’t resist!

Another thing is that I’m a bit tired of singing what other people want me to sing, how they want me to sing it.  Hey, I’m not knocking the work (please call me Cirque! I love you!), but I love singing a wide variety of styles of classical music.  I’ve done a lot of  early music and chamber music, but I’m also a fan of art songs: music by the likes of Henry Purcell, Franz Schubert, Gabriel Faure, and Samuel Barber.  Not exactly opera (actually, not opera at all), but amazingly beautiful music nonetheless.  I thought for now it would be interesting to explore art songs and combine their already intense expressivity with dance; not only because it’s more visually stimulating for the audience, but also because it’s uncommon and it would be a challenge for me and for the dancers to make it work effectively.

The first show, ‘Sweet Solitude’ is on June 25 and includes music by American composer Samuel Barber (sung by yours truly), and contemporary works by Diego Soifer, a young composition student at The Royal Conservatoire in Den Haag.  Diego and I met last year when my-friend-Marga-the-flamenco-dancer and I were talking about doing a collaborative Spanish opera/dance production based on the play Yerma by Lorca.  Diego was interested in composing some new music for the production, but since writing an opera is a biggish job (yikes!) he and I decided that we should start with a more bite-sized project of music of our own choosing.  We figured it would be a good way to get to know each other’s working style and musical style before committing to a scary long-term project.

So there you go.  The motivation behind OperaDans.  In a nutshell:  1) I wanna sing; 2) I wanna sing what I wanna sing when I wanna sing it; and 3) I’m a wannabe dancer.  If you’re in Holland on June 25 please come along to Sweet Solitude!  denhaagside readers will get a discount:  €12 (€7 for students) and I’ll save you a seat near the front!

Here is a quick video of last night’s rehearsal.  Zaddik Francis is the dancer and I’m in red, singing, looking like Zaddik’s Mini-Me.


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