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tv   Take Me to the Opera  BBC News  August 7, 2021 2:30pm-3:00pm BST

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that abdul rashid dostum now we see that abdul rashid dostum and his supporters, if civilians are going to be armed, this could become more ethnic, this is what people are worried about. thank you for talking to us about the developing situation in afghanistan. now it's time for a look at the weather with tomasz. hello. not much change or a day with a front for today and tomorrow. a lot of cloud, gusty winds in places. scattered downpours across the uk, particularly northern parts of the country, they are likely to continue into the evening hours, through to sunday and into monday as well.
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quite a cool picture across the uk. low pressure on top of us is slow—moving, gradually moving to the east and the north—east. the weather that it brings sits on top of the country for a considerable amount of time. through the afternoon, showers continue, particularly heavy across northern parts of the uk, maybe fewer for a time for the south of wales and devon, could be decent sunshine in plymouth. hello. this is bbc news with shaun ley. the headlines. gold medal number 20 for team gb asjoe choong takes top spot in the men's modern pentathlon. bronze on the track asjosh kerr runs a personal best in the men's 1,500 metres for his medal. boxing gold for galal yafai as he wins in the flyweight division for team gb.
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success in the pool, too. tom daley earning bronze in the 10 metre platform diving — his second medal of the games. while britain's matt walls and ethan hayter took olympic men's madison silver — behind denmark in first. in other news, the united states and the uk warn their remaining citizens in afghanistan to leave immediately as the taliban continue their advance. a volunteer firefighter has died as wildfires spread across greece, with thousands being moved from their homes to the north of athens. the end of most coronavirus restrictions in wales — no more limits on meeting indoors, plus an end to rules on social distancing.
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now on bbc news... it is zeinab badawi's afternoon. earlier we saw her interviewing the president of barbados. now she meets two sublime young opera stars who are grappling with a new world of opera — south african soprano masabane cecilia rangwanasha and french tenor benjamin bernheim. i have been an opera fan for decades and i want to share my passion with you. so i am on a mission to tell you about some of the names in opera who are making it fit for the future. meet south african soprano masabane cecilia rangwanasha, who loves song contests, and is tipped to become a superstar. i was in love with opera from the beginning, but i actually did not know there was opera, i just thought it was music.
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and exciting french tenor benjamin bernheim on the thrill of live performances. what we want is for people to dress up and come to see us, and come to the opera house and the concert hall. what does the future hold for young singers in an opera world that has been transformed by technology, social media, and demands for greater diversity? and could the changes make opera better and more popular? let me take you to the opera. passionate singing.
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applause. south african soprano masabane cecilia rangwanasha was born injohannesburg in 1993, and has come a long way in a short time. cecilia is a protege of the royal opera house where i am on the board of trustees, so i have come along to find out more about how she made it to one of the world's leading opera houses. i was singing as a child. my mum said i was a singing baby, so i would sing my name
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as i was growing up. and then ijoined the church choir, and ijoined the school choir. i took part in the singing competitions and that was when my mum saw that i actually loved singing. when i finished school she asked what i wanted to study and i said law. and she said "why not music because you are already singing?". and i said actually this is what i wanted to do but i was afraid to say it because, you know, they are going to say, what is opera? cecilia, as her mother called her, studied music at the tshwane university of technology in pretoria, and then at cape town university, where she joined the opera company in the city, and that is when the competitions got serious. after an audition in 2019, she won a coveted place on the young artists programme
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here at the royal opera house. many hundreds apply, but only a handful are successful for each programme. many of those singers who come from all over the world - are in london for the first time, so of course we have _ to make them settled - in in london and comfortable, and feeling safe in the environment that they are in, which may - be very new to them. over the course of the two years, it's a combination of training - and coaching, which is often intense and concentrated in that time. - the singers train in master classes with the very best, such as the world renowned music director of the royal
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opera house, sir antonio pappano. yes, you have got tojoin the ideas. the way he is invested in the story, he has so much knowledge, how he knows of the voice, how it should sound, what vowels to use, it is amazing. so he puts you through your paces with the italians rolling their rs. how warm is your voice now? could you give us a part of any song?
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what a treat that was. # now is the night...#. emotion is very important because you are telling a story. i will be telling a story of this person that people don't know, or sometimes they do not understand the language, but they should feel it. they should feel what i am saying. they should feel my
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emotion, myjourney. you never really know whether singers will make the superstar status because of course there are so many elements of being a star singer. you have to have the musicianship, you have to have the voice, but you also have to have the personality. you have to have that warmth, the ability to engage with audience members, and you have to be distinctive and cecilia has those in spades, so i think she has a good chance of going to the very top. getting to the top is tough. the opera world is highly competitive. injune 2021, cecilia took part in one of the most prestigious contests — the bbc�*s cardiff singer of the world. cecilia made it to the finals. if she is nervous about appearing before the three judges, well, she certainly doesn't show it. applause.
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is it your ambition to move people to tears with your performances? yes, you know, it makes me very happy... to make somebody cry! to cry in a good way. to cry in a good way because then you know that you have done something with your music. i am delighted to say- that the winner of the 2021 cardiff singer of the world is a unanimous choice, - it goes to the singer who reached
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out and moved us most. - from south africa, _ masabane cecilia rangwanasha. i am very happy. i am very happy to be part of this amazing contest. i am going to be honest, the main thing, yes, is to win. but why i go to the competition is to learn. most of the time in these big competitions there are people who are established singers, so you learn how they behave on stage. but winning is important, right? winning is also important! cecilia's talent shines through,
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and is bringing her recognition. but it has not been an easy path for black opera singers. the royal opera house is one of the busiest theatres in the world, and it is also leading in its drive for greater diversity and inclusion. black opera singers, mostly african—americans, are among some of the best—known names in opera history. but over the decades, performers of colour have faced major obstacles in securing big roles. for many, many years it was very hard for black singers to make it in opera, and particular through the '50s and '60s, when suddenly there was some real talent coming out. these amazing sopranos, like marian anderson who was a real pioneer.
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she had to iron on her own clothes before going onstage because nobody would do it for her. it was seen as beneath people to service somebody from that background. but she created such a stir when she was on stage and broke through many barriers. it is very important that we embrace diversity, not least because it sits within a tradition of diversity on our stage. we are proud of the fact that singers of colour were performing on our stage right back to the 19505, 19605, �*705, some really famous names in there. grace bumbry being just one. it's important we carry on that tradition. i met grace at a competition and we didn't have much time, but we did take pictures and she did give a talk to encourage everyone to say how well we are doing. we know that performers in the past in opera, that the males would have to blacken their face to play othello. how does that make you feel?
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the stories we are telling does not discriminate, does not choose who or how you look like, where you come from, and it doesn't matter who is telling the story. it is the story of the character we are telling that should be important. # she wasn't wearing slacks...#. cecilia would like to be seen as a role model for black artists wanting to make it in opera. so, i think slowly but surely, we are going to have more people of colour singing in these big houses, so i think it is going there, and i think there is a future for young women like me, black women, in opera.
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would you like to see centres of opera elsewhere in the world, in africa, for instance? yes, i know in south africa now it is getting, people now know about it, than when i started. because we have the culture of singing, which is choral music and african music, which is actually not farfrom opera. in the autumn of 2021, cecilia is taking a major step in her career when she becomes a house soloist with the swiss national opera in the capital, bern. cecilia is a special talent, and it's notjust because of her voice, which is of course glorious, and especially for her age as well.
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she is an outstanding talent, considering how young she is. but it is also the fabulous warmth she brings to her performing. there is a real humanity and depth of experience which belies her age, and that's what communicates to an audience, and why they are so excited when they see and hear her on stage. now meet french tenor benjamin bernheim, who has big ideas about the future of opera. he is already in great demand at opera houses all over the world.
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i think benjamin bernheim is one of the most exciting of our younger tenors and he is rightly making a name for himself all over the world. one of the main reasons is because he combines an extraordinary vocal talent with a thoughtfulness on stage. when an opera singer is performing on stage, there is so much they have to think about. the singing and breath control is paramount, but there are lots of other things they must get right. they are possibly singing in a foreign language, so they have got to get the correct pronunciations and stresses. they have got to look at the conductor for cues, and they must also act the part. between the performances i speak
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to benjamin at his home in paris. we have a tonne of things to do on stage. we have to fall in love, we have to lose our beloved ones, we have to die. we have to get out of the stage, we have to fall, we have to get hurt, stabbed, we have so many things that we have to be ready for and convincing at. the person benjamin regards as his mentor is his former vocal coach carrie—ann matheson. she accompanies him on the piano at a recent recital that was streamed live. carrie—ann is now artistic director at san francisco opera centre.
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benjamin has one of the most distinctive and beautiful voices that i have ever heard. somehow you can hear his soul through his voice. it has got this raw intensity, and yet incredibly flexible. i consider carrie—ann matheson my coach, but also my ears because she is one of the people in the opera world that knows my voice the best. what was it about squashing a mosquito that she would tell you? it was about finishing a phrase on a vowel, for example, and not closing my mouth. the music should continue after they have finished singing, and sometimes the release of the note is abrupt, and it sounds like the sound just goes bang, like that. so that's our shorthand for saying don't kill the mosquito, please.
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benjamin's fan base is growing and he keeps in touch with them through videos posted online. when he is not singing, benjamin enjoys a somewhat less delicate art of boxing. it is a solo game, a solo sport. you are alone with your gloves, and you are alone working on your body, on hitting the bag. this is extremely important for me, to find a sport that goes also very well with my singing.
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so do you bring that competitive spirit to your singing on stage? i would say that we are all in competition in the end because we all want to be loved by the audience. we want, in a way, to bring the best experience to the audience, and to be recognised for it. there are a lot of stories about competitiveness on stage. one great tenor, enrico caruso, at the beginning of the 20th century, he loved the limelight. he would be on stage singing, and then the baritone would come on and have his big solo and caruso did not want to be upstaged. so when the baritone came on, he would do something like put an egg in his hand, so the baritone would then have to deliver his solo with his egg, not knowing what to do that. so he might not sing quite as well as caruso, so he was still the star of the show. benjamin is from the next generation of superstars, but he is concerned about the pressures of the internet age on opera singers.
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you know, today we don't have time any more. before, we used to have time. cell phones exist, internet exists, streaming exists. we are in a hurry, lam in a hurry. this is why i call the opera business a jungle sometimes. the opera world is evolving rapidly. when a younger generation of artists have to embrace changes in the way opera is produced and enjoy. during lock downs, theatres were forced to close. after reopening, audiences have been cut back, production is pared down, and operas have been performed in concert form and streamed online. will this usher in a new era of creativity post—pandemic? well, technology is already providing new creative possibilities for opera.
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i do believe that both digital and the live experience can exist hand—in—hand. i think the way in which the pandemic hit us, obviously so severely financially, meant that we had to embrace ways of doing things that were maybe not quite as expensive. i think some of those ways in which we do things, for example building sets that aren't quite so extravagant. behind—the—scenes, this is the beating heart of the props department that makes all sorts of things for the stage at the royal opera house here in covent garden in london. we are already seeing a lot of virtual reality in opera, particular set designs. to actually do have these virtual sets, where you can design things, travel around, they are more flexible and versatile. moreover, it is now easier and easier to watch opera anywhere. i think the development in social media is great because that means my family from south africa can see my shows, and my friends from all over
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the world can see my shows. but there are concerns that too much opera is being streamed will stop the big problem i see is that if we give to the audience everywhere in the world all the content that we have for the price of a cup of coffee, it devalues our work. i think it is important not to make it expensive, not to make it out of reach, but do not go too far in a direction where you are not going to be able to come back. increasingly, opera singers will be aware that this is a global art form, and that they need to embrace that. it has the potential to inspire singers from different parts of the world, so it is an exciting time. the world of opera is clearly changing post covid—19 for both audiences and artists. but nothing can ever beat that rush of adrenaline you get when performing in front
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of an audience, or the excitement of watching a live performance. some things will never change. it isa it is a classic mixed bag today, changing from hour to hour and minute to minute across parts of the country, sunny spells and heavy downpours, cracks of thunder, and all brought along by this low pressure sitting over the top of us. it will be here today, tomorrow and be influencing us on monday as well.
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there is a lot of cloud across the uk with a few breaks here and there, but overall quite a cloudy picture and you can see the distribution of showers. end of the afternoon, really heavy ones across parts of scotland, northern england and northern ireland. in the south there are still some heavy ones around, but they still come and go, and the chance of a bit more brightness and also in the north—east of scotland here, not a bad day overall. so there are pockets of decent weather. here is the low pressure through the night, you can see spinning away on top of us. this is a slow—moving area of low pressure, spinning over is quite fast, but it is moving slowly, so the weather it brings sits over the uk for quite some time, and here it is again on sunday, in fact the centre has hardly moved. it has only drifted ever so slightly towards the north. that also means that the wind on the southern flank will be a little stronger across parts of england and wales, really quite gusty, a0 mph
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gusts. that might be a decent thing because it means any heavy showers will be blown through quite quickly. lighter winds will be across northern areas so here the showers will be slower moving, heavy showers more prolonged. temperatures are quite disappointing with all of this, not much change into monday, a scattering of heavy showers once again. there are hints that things are going to improve. from around tuesday to wednesday and thursday, we will be in between weather systems, there is more low pressure in the atlantic that this little bump of high pressure builds in, it is only a weak area, and it suggests that they will be slightly warmer area coming from the south, but mostly affecting south—eastern and eastern parts of the country, not super warm but warmer compared to what we have got right now. you can see the gentle rise, temperatures could hit 2a or 25 degrees in the south—east, so that is something. goodbye.
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this is bbc news with the latest headlines. gold medal number 20 for team gb — asjoe choong takes top spot in the men's modern pentathlon. there's a bronze forjosh kerr in the men's 1,500 metres — britain's first medal in the event since 1988. boxing gold for galal yafai — as he wins in the flyweight division. success in the pool, too. tom daley earning bronze in the 10 metre platform diving — his second medal of the games. in afghanistan, the taliban say they've captured a second provinincial capital in 2a hours. britain and the us warn their citizens to leave the country immediately. we are extremely concerned about the safety and security of people in cities under taliban
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attacks and what brutality would await them.


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