Agency news

Clare McCaldin

Clare performing Messiah at Worcester Cathedral

Following a change of management, I’m delighted to confirm that I will be on the roster of Ann Ferrier Artists, effective from 1 October 2018. I wish Jill Davies all the best in her new undertakings and look forward to working with Ann.

For a list of my current concert repertoire click here.

Ann can be contacted at [email protected]

 

 

 

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ for Mary’s Hand

We’ve had the reviews for Mary’s Hand in London. I am thrilled to get five stars in The Independent – my first review in a national newspaper.

Writing for The Independent, Alexandra Coghlan said, “Elegant, thoughtful, current without being gimmicky and immaculately presented, Mary’s Hand is a 70-minute rebuke to the UK’s major opera companies.

At the centre of it all, holding the stage with girlish, flickering fingers and a pitiless thrust of the chin is mezzo-soprano Clare McCaldin… an outstanding singing-actress.”

mary's hand

You can read the rest of that review here and a digest of all the reviews on McCaldin Arts.

Mary triumphant

The whirlwind of activity that always precedes a new show is finally abating and I’ve been able to step back today and look at what I and my team at McCaldin Arts have achieved with Mary’s Hand. It has been the most fantastic experience and I am totally thrilled with it.

Firstly, I owe huge thanks to the team that has made the piece with me – Di Sherlock, Martin Bussey, Andie Scott and Sophie Meyer. Mary’s Hand works on many levels and its success is in large part due to the balance of musical, textual and design elements that has been achieved through a genuinely collaborative exchange of ideas and critical process. 

The decision to make another one-woman show after Vivienne was not a foregone conclusion. However, Mary’s Hand naturally builds on that show’s success, not least my interest in revisiting the stories of historical women with blurry or dark reputations.  In addition, my interest in setting myself development challenges as a performer has been brilliantly answered in Mary’s Hand, thanks to our collective insistence on refining the piece to its best.

Thank-yous are also due to Tête á Tête for programming a third McCaldin Arts production in its Opera Festival – my progress as a maker of new work is closely linked to TaT’s support and encouragement. My thanks, too, to the clergy of St Paul’s Knightsbridge, which provided rehearsal space and where we ran Mary’s Hand in its first draft.  The Church of the Holy Cross warmly welcomed us for the August performances and we are delighted to have made new friends in our local King’s Cross area.

The biggest thank you of all is to Cheyney Kent, who not only curates McCaldin Arts’ online presence, but provides behind the scenes support at every turn. Without him Mary’s Hand simply would not have made it to the stage at all.

Mary’s Hand premieres

Clare McCaldin as Mary 1

Photo: Robert Workman

After an intense year of work, the premiere of Mary’s Hand is approaching fast. The first performance is in Chester on 21 June, with London performances on 1 & 2 August. Ticket information for all dates is here.

We have some fantastic publicity photographs of the finished costume (left.) This was completed with funds crowdfunded from our supporters, to whom much thanks. The video below introduces some of the key creatives on the team and footage of our try-out in April 2018 with the costume still in its partially-finished state. The experience of running the show with the three instrumentalists and an invited audience was of enormous help to us in making final adjustments to our work before the premiere.

You can discover more about the project at McCaldin Arts. You can download and read Di Sherlock’s libretto for Mary’s Hand here and read an interview with our composer Martin Bussey here. 

 

 

 

Over My Shoulder – London performance

Born in a Soho slum, Jessie Matthews rose to become a superstar of stage and screen throughout the 1930s, and was often described as “the English Ginger Rogers”Elisabeth Schumann was a German opera and song specialist whose popularity with British audiences remained undimmed even after Germany and England had fought a war. Both women were hugely famous in their day, and yet their names are hardly recognised now by younger generations of music-lovers.

Over My Shoulder sets out to remedy this by weaving together the stories of these two singers around their unexpected intersection here in London. In a strange twist of fate, Jessie and Elisabeth now lie buried on opposite sides of the same West London churchyard. Could they also have met years earlier in Covent Garden at the height of their fame? Might there be some connection between the two women?

Paul Turner (piano) & Clare McCaldin (mezzo)

Clare McCaldin (mezzo-soprano) and Paul Turner (piano) combine story-telling and singing to celebrate the lives and work of Jessie and Elisabeth. Tales of romantic scandal, tragedy, falls from grace and triumphant come-backs are inseparable from the remarkable artistic contribution of these two women.

The performance includes music by Felix Mendelssohn, Richard Strauss, Franz Schubert, Robert Schumann, Hugo Wolf, Johannes Brahms, Otto Klemperer, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Noël Coward, Harry Woods and Rodgers & Hart.

15th February 2018, 7.30pm
St Paul’s Church, 32a Wilton Place, London, SW1X 8SH

Tickets £25, £15, £10. Interval drinks will be served (donation requested).
Click here to book in advance or buy a ticket on the door. 

The Future of Knowledge

I’m delighted to have been invited to speak at the Future of Knowledge conference at the British Museum on Monday 12 February 2018. The conference is organised by the Knowledge Quarter to mark its third year of promoting productive partnerships, fruitful networks and creative interaction between its member organisations.

I will talking about McCaldin Arts’ project Mary’s Hand, which is in development for performances in 2018. In dealing with historical issues around the life of Queen Mary I, the show considers how her reputation was posthumously manipulated by her half-sister Elizabeth I, and the partial treatment of important facts and truths. As it turns out, fake news and PR spin are not a recent invention.

The Complete Heroine

Paul Turner’s impressive Swindon Recital Series has been running for over twenty years, and I was delighted to return to give a recital as part of the Complete season – a programming strand which has included Paul’s performance of the complete Chopin Nocturnes.

Paul and I created a song programme around the idea of heroine and anti-heroines, whose associated repertoire seemed to divide naturally into two kinds of character: those women in charge of their own destiny (Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth, Rosalind and Hermia, Sheherazade, Eliza Doolittle and Harriet Green) and those whose lives are directly affected by Fate in a way that they can’t, or choose not to, resist (The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mary Queen of Scots, Goethe’s Mignon and Julie Jordan). One final heroine is the nameless narrator of Jeremy Nicholas’ charming song, Usherette’s Blues.

Royal Society of Musicians

I’m delighted to have been elected to the Royal Society of Musicians. The RSM is Britain’s oldest music charity, established to provide immediate financial assistance to musicians unable to work due to accident, illness or old age. Here I am with my proposer and long-standing colleague, George Vass, following his confirmation as the organisation’s new Treasurer.

For more information on the RSM click here.

Over My Shoulder

Last night Paul Turner and I gave the first performance of Over My Shoulder at the church in whose graveyard are buried Elisabeth Schumann and Jessie Matthews, the subjects of our entertainment. We were delighted to be joined by Elisabeth Schumann’s grandchildren, who grew up in England after their parents settled here after the Second World War. I am especially grateful to Joy, who was very helpful when I was researching and writing  Over My Shoulder.

(Above L to R: Jean and Rupert Puritz, Christian Puritz, Paul Turner, CMcC, Joy Puritz).

You can read more about Over My Shoulder on the McCaldin Arts website here. The next performance will be on Thursday 15 February 2018 at 7.30pm at St Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge.

 

Follies at the National Theatre

Photo: Johan Persson via TheUpcoming.co.uk

I’m a fan of Sondheim. He writes in Finishing The Hat that his favourite of his own lyrics are those that are simplest and most direct; but, like many of his fans, I just can’t resist his virtuosic linguistic twists and turns, when he’s at his most showy. Even A Little Priest, the mountain of a duet at the end of Act I of Sweeney Todd, turns out to be less of a learning challenge than I feared because Sondheim is having so much fun testing the song’s idea to destruction that his enjoyment is infectious.

Follies is a show I didn’t know until last week and it presses all my Sondheim buttons as well as satisfying my love of sequins. The composer is writing on one of his favourite themes, unfulfillment, and how we may deal with our disappointment. If we have made a poor choice we can try to change it but we may have to live with it and it needn’t be all bad – we will survive. I enjoyed the typically complex Sondheim structure involving characters doubled with their younger selves, but the revelation for me in Follies was in discovering the intended context of songs that I have known for years as stand-alone numbers (In Buddy’s Eyes, Losing My Mind, I’m Still Here). If a song is great it will bear separation from its environment but it’s always exciting to discover a whole other world of meaning when it’s heard within the show.

Of course the same goes for opera – Nessun Dorma is less about football and more about hoping to avoid execution when heard in the context of Turandot – and it’s a great reminder of why we should always take the time to go back to the source and not just be seduced by the best tunes in isolation.