For the first time, we encountered opera in Malaysia – in English! Intrigued, we knew we had to speak to the main people behind La Traviata, presented by our very own Gardner & Wife Theatre.
Thankfully, we were given the opportunity (of a lifetime, we must say) to pick Claire Egan’s (who plays Violetta) and Joe Morgan’s (who plays Alfredo) brains on what makes La Traviata unique and their little tricks of the trade i.e. pre-show warm ups.
Here’s what went down:
Hi! How are you liking Malaysia so far? Have you managed to see much of our sunny city?
JM: “I think Malaysia is a fantastic country, I have been so impressed with the beauty of the scenery and the friendliness of the people. I haven’t even left yet and already I’m trying to work out ways that I can come back again.”
CE: “It is very beautiful, we have seen a little but of KL and Penang. We are all enjoying the wonderful weather, the beach, cuisine and friendly people.”
Did Malaysia turn out to be just the way you imagined it to be? What were you looking forward to most prior to coming here?
JM: “I was most looking forward to tasting the Malaysian cuisine and I must say it has live up to expectations, in fact it is even more fantastic than I was expecting!”
CE: “I did not know very much about Malaysia before I came, but it has already exceeded my expectations. The thing I was most looking forward to was being in a warm country as it was only six degrees when we left London!”
We’ve been hearing great things about La Traviata – mostly about how it’s opera but in English. Pray tell, what other elements contribute to making La Traviata different from other operas?
JM: “Our production of La Traviata adds an exciting modern twist to an old classic. The opening includes elements of burlesque that add vibrant colours to the show and create a great contrast to the darker more heart wrenching scenes that take place later in the opera.”
CE: “This is a modern setting of the opera, so although the music remains the same, the story is updated to a 2012 situation so that it will be relevant to today’s audience. It is set in a Caberet club and will bring a feeling of intimacy for the audience. This opera is a great introduction to opera for people who have not experienced it before because it has love, death, beauty and betrayal. It is both fun and sad and takes people on a real emotional journey.”
Before a show, what do you guys usually do to warm up? Do you have a specific ritual (individually) or do you guys usually do something together?
JM: “We don’t tend to have a group warm up as such, we do run some of the ensemble numbers in order to sound check but we mainly do our own personal vocal warm exercises. Personally, I like to sit down with the score just before the opera to make sure it is fresh in my mind.”
CE: “We often run through any tricky corners with our musical director but generally all have our own weird and wonderful warm up techniques. For me, I like to hum, make siren sounds, and tap some specific meridian points to get my energy flowing and connect to the breath.”
Have you ever had any crazy fan moments? And if so, describe them.
JM: “I once did an opera performance where I had to perform using a puppet. At the end of the show I was approached by an audience member who asked if he could see me little friend, after some embarrassing confusion I soon realized he was talking about the puppet!”
CE: “Haha! I had someone write a poem and send it to me but no, no real crazy fans..yet!”
What’s currently on your playlist? Are there any artistes in specific that you’re listening to?
JM: “Alongside opera I am also a huge fan of country music and soul music so I currently have Tower of Power and Brad Paisley on my playlist. Ooh! And I also have the Magic Flute on there as I am currently learning as we hope to return to Malaysia next year to perform it to you.”
CE: “At the moment, I am learning a Mozart opera which I listen to a lot, also I love rock and folk music, so at the moment i have been listening to lots of Laura Marling, First Aid Kit, Muse, and Mumford and Sons.”
Last one for the road – is there anything that you’d like to say to your Malaysian fans/Hype Malaysia readers?
JM: “Come along to the show, you’ll have an amazing time and you’ll leave on a high!”
CE: “Come and see the show! Especially if you’ve never been to an opera, we can promise a fun night out!”
Well, you heard them! Time to get those tickets to catch La Traviata live at PJ Live Arts.
Deets are as follows:
Date: 27th November (Tuesday) till 9th December (Sunday)
Time: 8.30pm (Tue-Sat) and 7pm (Sun)
Venue: Theatre @ PJ Live Arts, Jaya One
Ticketing: RM185, RM155, RM135, RM100