A Night at the (Shoreditch) Proms
This month, the BBC Proms are being transformed in the heart Shoreditch with Debut Opera’s upcoming #DOshoreditch night, the ‘Shoreditch Proms.’ The Proms have become one of the greatest annual musical traditions here in Britain, proudly taking up the Royal Albert Hall every summer with triumphant flag waving and regular season goers queuing in the sun for tickets to see some of the best classical music the world has to offer. But to save you the wait in the rain (cos’ let’s be honest, it’s England, and it’ll be raining...) Debut Opera are bringing the best music from the proms to a venue a little closer to home: the Shoreditch Treehouse. Instead of standing in the gallery you’ll be greeted with beanbags, sofas and even a tree swing, so you can sit back and relax as you and hear some of the best young artists performing the classics that have made the Proms great.
The Proms tradition began in 1895, and they were founded with the aim to run classical music concerts that could be appreciated by everyone. Founder Robert Newman said in 1894, ‘I am going to run nightly concerts and train the public by easy stages. Popular at first, gradually raising the standard until I have created a public for classical and modern music.’ And Mr Neman’s prophecy still stands today, as the beauty of the proms is their ability to bring classical music to everyone and to engage with a wide range of concert-goers, keeping classical music alive in the 21st century.
However, this month we can see Debut aptly capturing the essence of the Proms as they bring you some of the most glorious and popular tunes of classical music in a friendly and casual environment that can suit anyone from the eclectic, seasoned opera-goer to the young twenty-something just looking for a slightly different night out.
On the night you can expect to hear some of the greatest music from some of the finest operas. Duets from Mozart's endearingly ridiculous love story opera Le nozze di Figaro, will be performed. Mozart's operas (and this one in particular) are exceptional for a number of reasons, however one of the things I love about them is Mozart's ability to write quick witted, smart and determined female characters, who often make fools and fun out of their blundering male counterparts. In contrast to the 'damsels in distress' who so often appear on our opera stages, Mozart's women are a welcome contrast, and here you'll get to experience some of this defiant female character in Susanna and the Count's duet, 'Crudel! perchè finora.'
Equally, there'll be 'sing-a-long' classics from the Rodgers and Hammerstein hit musical Carousel. Although not as popular as it's musical predecessor Oklahoma!, Carousel was still a huge success for the musical pair, who would go on to be the named the greatest musical sensation of the 20th century, writings melodies that we all still know and love today. The pair created eight remarkable Broadway shows (some that were subsequently turned into films), and went on to earn a grand total of thirty Tony Awards, fifteen Academy Awards, a Pulitzer Prize and two Grammy Awards.
However, if you like your music a little more brooding and passionate, there'll be arias from Puccini’s heart-wrenching opera, La Bohème. After meeting during a blackout, the two young Parisians introduce themselves and swiftly realise they're in love (oh how we wish it were that simple, eh Puccini?). Puccini is known for his luscious and grandiose melodies and impassioned arias, and he became the founder of the new verismo style of Italian opera. Verismo translates as 'realistic' or 'true', and although Puccini's quick love story might seem somewhat implausible to us cynical folk nowadays, it's aim was to depict the loves and lives of the average and contemporary man and woman, all the while composing in a more fluid and natural style that broke away from the rigid boundaries of opera that had been laid out in the earlier half of the 19th century. So no more mythical dragons or stories of Gods and Queens, but rather, just love in its purest form and an outpouring of human sentiment.
And that's not even the half of it. There'll be Elgar and Beethoven, Strauss and Korngold and even a couple of tutti crowd pleasers for those of you who love to have a sing-a-long in true 'Last Night of the Proms' fashion. So, get your flags ready, grab a drink and settle in for a night at the proms but without the rules and conventions; just beanbags, fairy lights, local beer and great music. And that’s how we do classical music here in Shoreditch, folks!
August 2017, Article by Genevieve Arkle