Old Elmhurstian performs at Glyndebourne.

Elmhurst School for Boys

4th July 2013

Just before the Easter holidays, the director of music at Trinity e-mailed my Mum to ask if I would be interested in auditioning for a part in Falstaff at Glyndebourne Opera House.  Now, I’d never heard of Glyndebourne; but my parents and I were really pleased that I had been asked!

When I got to the audition, it was nothing like I had imagined.  I had pictured queues of 11-12 year olds itching to grab the spotlight and shine; to my surprise, there were only three of us!  However, I was up against fierce competition from two other boys from stage school.  We had to act out what I now realise were three of the scenes from Falstaff.  To my pleasure, the director gave me a decision straight away – it was me who would be playing the part of Falstaff’s page! 

After more than a month of rehearsals, the first performance finally came along and I was really excited to be performing in front of a paying audience and to see the whole show come together - the pressure was on!   The crowds bustled in, Sir Mark Elder, the conductor, came in and the curtain went up.  I was in the very first scene when the curtain opened - show time!

After the first couple of shows, I was captivated by the thrill and ‘adrenalin rush’ of the opera.  However, the real heroes weren’t the actors and singers, it was really the crew who did the hard work – they had to adjust the lighting, change the scenery and give the actors cues.  I found the technical side of the production just as interesting, if not more, than the performance.

My make-up man, Osman, was very friendly as were the rest of the cast.  The lady lead soprano (Ailyn Perez) gave me several gifts on the first night and I received good luck cards, messages and gifts from other cast members too.

Anyway, last Saturday was my birthday but I still had to work – the show must go on!  This was very exciting as I got lots of congratulations and “happy birthdays”, and the odd present or two.  I joined my parents for a delicious picnic during the ‘long interval’ and then shared my birthday cake backstage with the cast.

I do think that drama club after school at Elmhurst with Mrs Clarke really paid off. I mean look where I am now. Doing opera with people who earn their living from it.

All in all, I’ve had a brilliant time at Glyndebourne, although maybe the best is yet to come as a ‘little bird’ has told me that there will be a party during the interval of the last performance!

I would say that the last couple of months have been a real ‘eye opener’ to the professional opera scene and, although I am a novice, I have thoroughly enjoyed it and I hope that I have done a good job.

 Daniel Giffin

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