Standing and playing (in a new opera)

October 17, 2018 | Posted in cello things, Concerts | By

I’ve been involved in a wonderful new opera composed and directed by John O’Brien with libretto by John O’B and Eádaoin O’Donohghue. It is based on the short story by Oscar Wilde ‘The Nightengale and The Rose’ A pretty sad tale, but the opera is full of characters to delight! I’m one of the 9 muses – Melpomone, muse of Tragedy and in my earthly guise a willow tree. (the programme shot below).

I stand as I play most of the time, as I am acting and dancing (sort of shimmying along). I just pull the spike out full, which on this cello is sturdy and long enough, and the spike has a stop so it doesn’t fly out completely. Playing standing without any strap, it’s essential to have a sturdy spike.

It is still difficult when playing in thumb position and high up the finger board (lots in this show) so for these I bend my left knee and press it against the back of the cello to give something steady. I also hook it over my shoulder for moves across the stage, and do various bad postures, but as long as I always come back to a strong straight back throughout, it doesn’t hurt or give me a crick neck! I keep looking at the Bloch cello strap but in the shows I do, I need to swing the cello off me quickly and slickly, and have a mixture of sitting and standing and sideways cello playing. I have used a belt tight around my waist joined with another belt around the cello. This gave some traction so it was sturdier. But again slow to unhook and put aside. When you are constantly on stage in character there can be no clumsy movements. Well that’s my aim. I have tried many versions of straps in fact and am still investigating this for myself! 

I’m also using an Arcus S8 bow, which is great for standing. (it’s in that photo above) I thought it might be too light initially, but it is much easier to handle on the cello than my other bows, and actually I discover whilst standing and playing light is better, as long as it has good grip. It’s a perfect show bow, clean long bowing, accurate. I’m going to do a video review of it actually, cause when I was looking at them after a colleague was raving, I couldn’t find one. If you’re in Cork, Dublin or Limerick you can catch me in The Nightengale and the Rose on these dates:

Only 3 shows left in Cork before the Nightingale takes flight to Dublin and Limerick!
Book today at the Everyman Cork
🌹The Civic, Dublin (23-24 Oct) | https://goo.gl/9B9CqN
🌹The Lime Tree Theatre, Limerick (27 Oct) | https://goo.gl/11rKns

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ “Precise in every detail of performance, the production glows with a rich inventiveness of colour, surprise and allusion…” Irish Times

★ ★ ★ ★ It is unlike anything else I’ve seen on the opera stage to date. The storytelling is vivid, the spectacle is intriguing and the music is attractive.” Irish Examiner

Have a great day!!!

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