Gareth Malone on Hot House
The choirmaster gives us a preview of his latest in a long line of projects with The Royal Opera House.
The hour is approaching – that moment when all the hard work comes together and the stage fills with 150 young people all eager to put on the show of their lives. Before then however, we have the final weeks of rehearsal.
Over the last fortnight the Hot House company have come together for the first time, and what a company they are. For me, a trained singer, it’s always impressive to watch dancers in action. The dance ensemble has been drawn from the various schemes that the Royal Opera House been involved with in the three years building up to this project. They’re exceptional and it’s easy to forget just how young they are because they are so utterly focussed. Dancers from The Lowry in Manchester are also involved and I can’t wait to see them join forces with DanceEast from Ipswich and The Place in London for the fire dance.
The production is exciting vocally as well with the ROH Youth Opera Company are becoming ever more experienced in stage craft – and they’ll need it because the Covent Garden auditorium is big. Many of the performers were recently in the ROH mainstage production of La bohème and it shows in their confidence during rehearsals where they watch conductor Geoffrey Paterson with a ferocious intensity. As they’ll be on stage during most of the performance, we’re working to build their stamina so that their performance level remains high throughout.
The score is now embedded in most of our brains and Julian Grant‘s notes are forming the soundtrack to our lives but I’m always amazed how much young people can retain.
As for the production’s look, we’ve had designers in to explain the intricacies of the set while over in Thurrock, local people of all ages have been busying themselves creating the staging and costumes. Seeing what a piece will look like is always an exciting moment for any performer and I’m pleased to say that I too will have a costume. I’ve asked for it to be extra flash but I’m not sure if that request has been taken on board by the production team – I hope so!
Being able to put together a production like this, involving so many people to create a real variety of work, is only made possible thanks to the generosity of the Royal Opera House’s supporters; see the production page for a full list of those involved.
Hot House gets its premiere on Sunday 22 July and until then it’s all hands on deck for all those involved. Until then, those coming should warm up their vocal chords as there’s a good old fashioned sing song at the piece’s climax.
Gareth first worked with the Royal Opera House nine years ago in 2003, leading a workshop with students on Strauss’s Elektra. In the years since he has regularly led educational projects and workshops for us, at both at Covent Garden and in schools across the country. He has also worked as a presenter, introducing Family Performances on the mainstage and fronting broadcasts of our BP Big Screen performances of opera and ballet in Trafalgar Square.