“Irresistible visceral power” Andrea Chénier opens to rave reviews

Andrea Chénier, directed by Annabel Arden with set and costumes designed by Joanna Parker, has opened to glowing reviews, being described as “a thrilling evening that richly deserved its enthusiastic reception” by The Telegraph. Giving the production 5 stars, they note that “Andrea Chénier exerts irresistible visceral power” and that “Arden focuses on the violence and paranoia of Robespierre’s Paris, drawing from the chorus and soloists strongly etched portraits of both its victims and persecutors.”

In another equally positive review, The Guardian admires Joanna Parker’s “dazzling costumes” nothing that they “suggest Jean-Paul Marat by way of Jean Paul Gaultier”.

Andrea Chénier plays at the Leeds Grand Theatre until February 24th, when it will tour the North of England, visiting Newcastle, Nottingham and Manchester.



Supported Voice, Supported Body, Supported text: A Workshop with Annabel Arden and Mary King

Supported Voice, Supported Body, Supported text.

Workshop with Mary King and Annabel Arden

Dates: October 5th and 6th

Times: 9am -6pm

Place: The Thanet Community Centre, Herbert Street London NW5  4HD

Cost:  £100 for one day; £180 if you attend both days

Maximum participants: We are hoping to limit this to a maximum of 15 students so that there is an optimum amount of time for both individual and group learning

For professional classical singers and aspiring professional singers. (Either at or about to embark on full time professional training, or recently graduated from University degree, and looking to attend Conservatoire)

Communicating voice and text, with totally connected physical support

The best singers communicate effortlessly at a sustained and expansive level. They are always “on the body” – and not singing “from the neck up” – but what does this mean? and can anyone achieve it? Annabel Arden and Mary King bring their combined expertise to explore the essential question “what is support?” , and help students grow to an understanding of how to unleash the power of their whole instrument, and  increase the freedom and expressive power of the voice through the same qualities in the body. Detailed text work will enable students to discover new techniques to increase range and precision of tone, colour and meaning.

The form of this workshop will be to integrate physical work as a group with individual attention paid to the specific need of each singer. This individual work is undertaken within the group’s presence, as learning can then be shared.

Annabel Arden is a co-founder of Theatre de Complicite and an internationally acclaimed director of Opera.  Working with young singers to achieve an optimum of theatrical expression with vocal excellence is of particular interest to her.  Please also see the following link; http://www.performing-arts.co.uk/clients/directors/annabel-arden/

Mary King worked for many years as a soloist across the opera houses and concert halls of the world. For 17 years she was associated with English National Opera, where she was Artistic Associate, and devised and ran the performance skills course The Knack, which ran for 12 years. She moved on to the Southbank Centre for 6 years as an artist in residence, setting up the big vocal initiative Voicelab. She has worked as a resident vocal coach and expert on numerous radio and TV programmes, including Operatunity; Musicality; Popstar to Operastar; BBC Cardiff Singer of the World. She has written a series of coaching books for Boosey and Hawkes (Singing in English; Singing in French; Singing in German)  and The Singer’s Handbook for Faber Music (in collaboration with Anthony Legge)

See also www.marykingvoice.co.uk

The course is by application only, to apply please send a copy of your CV and a Cover Letter to: ardenworkshops@gmail.com

We ask you to submit a CV, photograph and your choice of  two arias, which can be drawn from the entire operatic canon. However, it is best if the arias are.

-          Short ( there’s more time to work, if the aria is 3-5 minutes long, rather than 8minutes)

-          Fairly well-known repertoire, rather than rarities:  more group learning is possible when material is more familiar.

-          Well known to you ! You should be familiar with the accompaniment and not still at the “note bashing” stage.

-          They can be in any language, but if singing in a language that is not English, please prepare a translation which is word-for-word accurate, and not just a general overview of the content.

-          All students should know the context of the operatic aria, and details about the character they are playing

We will probably only work on one aria each, but it is good to have a choice

For any queries please reply to Rosalind Parker  at ardenworkshops@gmail.com


The Song in a Dramatic Situation: A Workshop with Annabel Arden

The Song in a Dramatic Situation

Workshop with Annabel Arden

London. Monday 28th September – Friday 2nd October 2015

The workshops will run each day 10.00-15.00

Course Fee: £250.00

This workshop is for performers in all forms of theatre and opera, aimed at anyone who is interested in how to use music as  an integral part of the theatrical experience.  More specifically the workshop will focus on how to integrate  a song seamlessly in a dramatic situation. Rhythm, melody, speech into song will all be things we play with.  You do not need to be a “good” singer, only to love music and song.

In this workshop we will prepare physically and vocally, and then look at different kinds and forms of songs and how they arise in theatrical contexts. Some spoken texts, specifically Shakespeare and Chekhov will also be part of the work.

Participants should be prepared to come with an unaccompanied song they are able to sing solo as well as a simple, short song to teach to the group, preferably a folk song or similar. These songs can be in any language, and ideally they should have a strong form in themselves, without their instrumental backing.

The course is by application only, to apply please send a copy of your CV and a Cover Letter to: ardenworkshops@gmail.com

For a short biography of Annabel Arden, please see the following link; http://www.performing-arts.co.uk/clients/directors/annabel-arden

Outstanding Costume Award for Reiffenstuel at the Dora Mavor Moore Awards

We are pleased to announce that our client Brigitte Reiffenstuel has won the award for ‘Outstanding Costume Design’ for the Royal Opera House production of Falstaff at the Dora Mavor Moore awards held in Toronto.

Brigitte Reiffenstuel was born in Munich and studied at the London College of Fashion and St Martin’s School of Art. She has designed for Opera productions across the world including Adriana Lecouvreur, Faust and Elektra for the Royal Opera House, as well as costumes for Kate Bush’s Before The Dawn concerts in 2014.

Falstaff went on to win several more awards:

  • Outstanding Production, in the Opera Division
  • Outstanding Performance – Male, in the Opera Division, went to Gerald Finley
  • Outstanding Performance – Ensemble, in the Opera Division, went to the Ensemble of Falstaff
  • Outstanding Scenic Design, in the Musical Theatre/Opera Division, went to Paul Steinberg

Falstaff will be returning to the Royal Opera House July 2015.

Glowing reviews for Blakeley and Pussaint’s Riccardo Primo

Riccardo Primo, or Richard the Lionheart, has opened to glowing reviews at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Directed (and translated) by Lee Blakeley and with set and costumes designed by Jean-Marc Puissant, it has been described as ‘in all aspects, the most perfect production of an opera that I’ve ever seen’ by Broadway World. They noted ‘Stage director Lee Blakeley (who also partnered in the new libretto) fills the production with grace. Every instrumental passage is filled with meaningful action by the performers. Lovely graceful turns are used to fill a wine glass or to take it away.’ and praised Puissant for the costumes authenticity ‘They are as King George himself would have seen them. (Richard, bewigged in disguise, resembles nothing so much as an ancient Voltaire.)’.

In an equally enthusiastic review The Belleville News-Democrat the costumes particularly are praised ‘Jean-Marc Puissant designed both the sparse but effective set and expertly detailed costumes, with gorgeous, ovation-worthy royal attire in the finale’. While The Chicago Tribune celebrated the production as a ‘triumph for all concerned’.


Openings to start 2015

A new production of Andrea Chenier is opening at the Royal Opera House on 20 January with costumes designed by Tony award winning costume designer Jenny Tiramani and choreography by Andrew George.

Over at the Trafalgar Studios Jon Clark is lighting The Ruling Class which opens a week later on 27 January, starring James McAvoy.

Annabel Arden is directing a semi staged production of The Miserly Knight by Rachmaninoff and excerpts from Das Rheingold, conducted by Vladimir Jurowski with the LPO. Joanna Parker acts as Design consultant and the performance takes place at the Royal Festival Hall on 21 January.

Sad news about director Joss Bennathan

Joss Bennathan, Director






We are very sorry to announce that our client Joss Bennathan – director, teacher and theatre-maker – died on 26 November 2014 aged just 56. He died peacefully after a short illness, born with great dignity and courage. The son of late Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm, he  is survived by his daughter Ella, son Matt and two grand-daughters.

He will be sorely missed by the many friends and colleagues he has worked with over the years, and particularly by all those young people who were lucky enough to benefit from his talent for using drama to develop their skills and transform their view of the world.

A short tribute in the Evening Standard‘s Londoners’ Diary quoted Munira Mirza, London’s deputy mayor for education and culture, who was involved in Bennathan’s Present Moment Theatre Lab project, which puts on Shakespeare plays with east London schoolchildren.

“I cannot stress enough how much I admired and respected him,” she said. “He spoke with conviction about how drama teaching could raise its game. He believed in the need for theatre which transforms young people’s world view and helps them transcend their own experience.”

An obituary by Joan Walker was published in The Guardian. His biography gives more information about his career.

Edwards’s Don Quichotte at Grange Park ‘a real winner’

‘Grange Park has a real winner with this Don Quichotte’ writes David Mellor in the Mail on Sunday, going on to say that ‘director Charles Edwards’s ‘konzept’ really works.’ Edwards also designed the show, ‘And since Edwards is such a talented designer, the set – with Massenet’s cluttered study in the foreground, and an Edwardian operatic stage to the rear – is a feast for the eyes.’ Clive Bayley, who sings Massenet/Don Quichotte and conductor Renato Balsadonna were praised for giving ‘two outstanding performances’, as was David Stout for his brilliant support as Sancho Panza.

Describing Massenet’s opera as having ‘an autumnal, elegiac score of considerable charm’ Rupert Christiansen in the Telegraph thought that Edwards showed ‘both wit and perception in his attractive recreation of Belle Époque taste: this is an affectionate and sensitive interpretation which does no violence to Massenet’s intentions.’ He, too, praised Balsadonna’s conducting, and concluded: ‘It’s one that Massenet fans like myself will be delighted to catch’.

The Arts Desk saw Edwards’s production as ‘proof that Massenet’s Cervantes opera is a work of variety, poignancy and emotional depth’. The reviewer, Sebastian Scotney, thinks the ‘production uses the small stage to great effect’ and that this ‘thought-provoking and visually clever and attractive production is a milestone for the Grange Park company’.

Blakeley and Puissant praised for The King and I

The Financial Times has described the revival of The King and I at the Châtelet as ‘arguably Lee Blakeley’s best production yet for the theatre, on a par at any rate with his A Little Night Music’, noting how ‘Blakeley moves the cast around with unforced skill.’ The review also praised the design:’The show looks splendid, thanks to Jean-Marc Puissant’s elegant and practical sliding panels.’

In an equally enthusiastic review in the New York Times, George Loomis praised the way in which Lee Blakeley ‘vividly and amusingly exploited’ the tensions between Anna and the King, played by Susan Graham and Lambert Wilson, and ensured ‘that the drama’s darker side comes through’. He, too, was impressed by Puissant’s design: ‘Jean-Marc Puissant’s décor sumptuously evokes Oriental splendor with golden panels inspired by screens, both old and new. Elaborate wood pieces with geometric designs serve for the king’s throne and private quarters.’ Summing up, the NY Times described the production as having  ‘sweeping melodic and theatrical power’.

The ‘Diapason’ review, meanwhile, described: ‘La mise en scène simple et rythmée de Lee Blakeley (un habitué de la maison, et un « pro » infaillible)’ [The straight-forward and well-paced direction by Lee Blakeley (a regular at this House and an infallible « Pro »)].



Glowing review for King and I from Le Figaro

Lee Blakeley’s production of The King and I at the Chatelet, starring Lambert Wilson and Susan Graham and designed by Jean-Marc Puissant, has opened to a glowing review from Le Figaro.

Describing it as ‘un triomphe à faire pâlir Broadway!’ (a triumph to rival Broadway), it praises both direction and design:

‘Le metteur en scène relit la pièce avec une élégance enjouée, mais dans une fidélité parfaite.’…’Chaque scène est ciselée loin d’un kitsch de pacotille: décors de paravents, costumes d’or et de couleurs, sans lésiner sur les accessoires…’ (The director’s reading of the play had a carefree elegance, whilst remaining totally true to the text… Every scene was crafted in a style that had no trace of trashy kitsch; sets made up of screens, costumes which were golden and colourful, props that pulled out all the stops).

Blakeley is praised for going back to the original book, forgetting the Yul Brynner film: ‘he orchestrates with a new finesse the encounter between the mighty king, surrounded by his concubines (the true Mongkut had 600), and a slight stiff teacher, shaped by the spirit of Victorian England.’

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