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Why you should become an opera first-timer this March with RNCM

Ahead of the Royal Northern College of Music’s (RNCM) opera production of Mansfield Park this March, we asked two of the main cast members to tell us more about this classic art form and why you should give opera a go.

Located on the Oxford Road Corridor, the RNCM and its founding institutions have been fuelling the aspirations and ambitions of young singers for the last 50 years, celebrating this incredible art form and pushing the boundaries of what opera means in the 21st century for performers, audiences, and society.

What’s the first thought that springs to your mind when you hear the word Opera – Elitist? Gowns? Black Ties? Italian Singing? Maybe these are the reasons why you’ve stayed away from it all these years. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to try it but didn’t know where to start.

With a running time of under two hours, all singing in English and being based on Jane Austin’s masterful work, we think the RNCM’s upcoming production of Mansfield Park by Jonathan Dove is a perfect introduction for opera first-timers.

So if you fancied trying a new experience, or were curious about Opera, this is the one for you.

We spoke to Morgana Warren Jones, who plays Fanny Price in the upcoming production of Mansfield Park, and James Connolly, who will be playing Edmund Bertram about why you should give Opera a whirl.

So why should people give Opera a try?

Morgana: “Like films, theatre, musicals, concerts or gigs, an opera is an awesome form of escapism!

“There is all kind of genres: comedies, dramas, thrillers etc and so there’s something for everyone.

“The really exciting thing about opera is how the music heightens the drama and emotion and hearing a group of highly trained musicians play live and unamplified is special

“I came to opera through enjoying singing and classical music but I’ve found that I love acting and playing other people on stage

James: “Apart from the high standards of music, it’s worth mentioning, it’s an absolute bargain for young people.

“Many productions offer very generous promotions. For example, if you are under 26, you can purchase a ticket for Mansfield Park for just £12.50. The value is unbelievable.

“Music from operas regularly influences composers of modern film soundtracks.

For example, music from Mozart’s opera ‘The Marriage of Figaro’ can be heard in the opening of Eddie Murphy’s film ‘Trading Places’ and also a very famous scene from ‘The Shawshank Redemption.’

“Additionally, music from Mozart’s opera ‘Don Giovanni’ is heard in the soundtrack of ‘Sherlock Holmes- a Game of Shadows.’

“If you decide to watch one, you may also notice music that you’ve already heard in a film or TV advert!

James performing

Why is this production of Mansfield Park a great Opera for a first-time attendee?

James: “There are many reasons why Mansfield Park is a great choice for a person’s first dip into the genre.

“It doesn’t have the intimidatingly long running time which a lot of people associate with opera (it’s under 2 hours!)

“The opera was written just over ten years ago, so it’s particularly receptive to the modern ear

“The overall message of the opera is so relatable to the strife and struggles of daily life, something we can all relate to at the moment.”

Morgana: ” This is a chance to see a new English opera which isn’t often performed by big opera companies.

“The students at RNCM are the next wave of musicians entering the profession so it’s a great chance to see a new talent, and maybe some future stars!”

Do you feel a personal connection to the themes in this opera, or the characters you play?

James: “Throughout the opera, Edmund goes through a journey of temptation, often abandoning his moral principles merely to please others.

“I relate to the struggle of trying to stay true to yourself despite finding myself in contentious situations.

“For Edmund, there’s also the relatable element of not seeing what’s been in front of your eyes for so long, cherishing what you hold dear. Before you know it, whatever it is may not be there anymore.”

Morgana: “I feel similar to Fanny Price in that I’m naturally quite quiet, more of a listener and don’t like being the centre of attention in day-to-day life.

“I like how at the end of the show it’s Fanny, who is most genuine and true to herself who shines most.”

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the RNCM has a strong mission: to define the future of music. It has been a pioneer in championing the creation of new works and producing an opera like Mansfield
Park by Jonathan Dove, written in 2011, has been no exception.

There are many stories to tell and opera is ultimately just one of the ways our ideas, experiences, and emotions can be expressed through music. A love story at heart, Mansfield Park touches on themes that everyone can relate to against the backdrop of incredible music-making from the next generation of musicians.

Mansfield Park is showing on Sunday 26 March 2023 at 3.00 pm and running to Saturday 1 April 2023.

If you’d like to buy a ticket, you can do so by clicking here.

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