Buxton International Festival is touring for the first time with a production to enchant the whole family. At just 75 minutes long, Cinderella is the perfect introduction to opera for all ages and was a sell-out success for the festival last year. Quays Life meets its Prince Charming, mezzo soprano, Camilla Seale to find out more.
This is the first time Buxton International Festival’s first ever touring production. How are you enjoying taking the show on the road?
Camilla: “Well, as I write we are currently rehearsing in Stockport, which is a deliciously short cycle from my house, so I‘ll let you know when we get there. It‘s always exciting to meet people from different parts of the country, and see how the show subtly changes when you bring it into a new space”.
Buxton International Festival’s production of Pauline Viardot’s miniature operetta is described as a family opera. What do you think makes it such a good introduction to opera for young people?
Camilla: “Well, it’s a very loveable story with recognisable characters, in which true love and open-heartedness triumph over greed and selfishness. Woo! It’s also a very light-hearted piece, and just over an hour – which, for an opera is thrillingly short. In that sense it’s ideal for smaller people, and those who aren’t familiar with what ‘opera’ might offer. The dialogue is all in English, which I think really carries the piece along, and the audience with it”.
What ages would you say it is aimed at?
Camilla: “I remember coming out of a show on the Buxton run, and chatting to a nine year old girl, who had had a very good time! But I think my middle aged parents also enjoyed it too”.
What was your first introduction to opera and how has it inspired you?
Camilla: “Hmmm, an amateur production of Turandot in London. I was very little and my dad was in it too. His first and last appearance on the operatic stage… I think really it was theatre that inspired me the most at school – especially our all girls version of Alan Bennett‘s The History Boys”.
You enjoyed classical singing success from a young age as part of Simon Cowell’s Angelis group, but then studied at both Cambridge and LSE before returning to study at RNCM. What influenced your choices?
Camilla: “Different things were important to me at those junctures – studying gave me time to pursue music, while also understanding more about the world around me. Ultimately, though, I knew I always wanted to sing – it just took a bunch of hard work, and some courage to pursue it”.
What advice could you give to a young person who is thinking about an operatic career?
Camilla: “The UK is in a really difficult position with the current government, and something of a political war is being waged on opera in particular. If you‘re thinking of an operatic career – good for you! I would suggest studying on the continent, to start building a network in Europe, where the job market is much bigger”.
As well as singing, you are also an aerial artist and an actor, how do you see all these skills complementing each other?
Camilla: “Well, I do the things I enjoy. Aerial, unsurprisingly, brings me into my body, and keep me strong, while acting reminds me how to use my imagination and lose self-consciousness”.
Is there anything you haven’t tried that you are keen to learn?
Camilla: “I‘ve just taken up surfing again recently, and if I could, I‘d spend my life doing that. Also, I‘ve been spending some time in Norway, and have started to be more persuaded by all things mountain and snow based”.
Cinderella is at The Lowry from 3-4 February 2023. The production is sung in French (with English surtitles) with English dialogue.