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tv   Take Me to the Opera  BBC News  August 8, 2021 10:30am-11:01am BST

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hello, this is bbc news. the headlines. another golden moment for teamgb cyclistjason headlines. another golden moment for teamgb cyclist jason kenny, headlines. another golden moment for teamgb cyclistjason kenny, making him the country's most decorated olympian. the us women's basketball team when their consecutive gold medal with a victory over home team japan. reports from afghanistan say there is heavy fighting where government forces are trying to push back taliban militants. new changes to the uk's covid restrictions come into force from today. thousands
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flee their homes in greece as forest fires burn out of control. the country faces its most intense heatwave for more than 30 years. and thousands take to the streets of amsterdam as the city celebrates the 20 anniversary of its gay pride parade. now, gina badawi meets two opera stars who are grappling with the new world of opera. —— zine app by dalloway. —— zine app by dalloway. 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.
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i was in love with opera from the beginning, but i actually did not know there was opera, ijust thought it was music. 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.
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passionate singing 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
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leading opera houses. i was singing as a child. my mum said i was a singing baby, so i would sing my name 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,
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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 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 l of training and coaching, which is often intense i 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 opera house, sir antonio.
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yes, you have got tojoin the ideas. the way he has 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. that is very important in opera. how warm is your voice now? could you give us
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a part of any song? she sings. 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
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don't know, or sometimes they do not understand the language, but they should feel it. they should feel what i am saying. my 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
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appearing before the three judges, well, she certainly doesn't show it. applause. 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.
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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 out and moved us most. i from south africa, _ masabane cecilia rangwanasha. i am very happy. masabane cecilia rangwanasha. 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.
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but winning is important, right? winning is also important! cecilia's talent shines through, 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,
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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. 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, 1960s, �*70s, 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,
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that the males would have to blacken their face to play othello. how does that make you feel? 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,
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so i think it is going there, and i think there is a future for young women like me, black women, in opera. 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.
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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. 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.
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they have got to look at the conductor for cues, and they must also act the part. between the performances i speak 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.
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carrie—ann is now artistic director at san francisco opera centre. 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.
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so that's our shorthand for saying don't kill the mosquito, please. 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,
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on hitting the bag. this is extremely important for me, to find a sport that goes also very well with my singing. 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.
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benjamin is from the next generation of superstars, but he is concerned about the pressures of the internet age on opera singers. 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, i am 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 lockdowns, 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
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of creativity post—pandemic? well, technology is already providing new creative possibilities for opera. 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.
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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 the world can see my shows. but there are concerns that too much opera is being streamed 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 very 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.
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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 of an audience, or the excitement of watching a live performance. some things will never change. hello, hello everyone. i hope you're doing all right. with a presence of heavy showers across much of the uk today and sunny spells, you mightjust catch a rainbow out there and although that sounds quite nice, some of the showers won't be. as with yesterday, slow—moving, heavy, thundery downpours,
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and the reason why we're seeing these is down to this hello, hello everyone. area of low pressure. now, very slowly this is moving towards the north, and in doing so, i think some southern parts of the uk should see something a bit brighter and drier today. the south east seeing some sunshine initially and some scotland as well. then the showers swirling around that low, i think will reach most parts. but as with yesterday, some sunny spells in between. quite windy at times, especially across southern parts, thanks to that low again. and today's top temperatures, well, nothing too dazzling, between 18 and 20 celsius. as we head through towards this evening, the low pressure is still with us, introducing further, heavy, slow—moving showers. some of these, as you can see, bunching together into longer more prolonged spells of rain and through today and this evening, some of them could lead to localised flooding. more in the way of drier weather starting to creep in, though.
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temperatures tonight down to 13 or 1a celsius. tomorrow, the low pressure is still nearby and is still likely to introduce more of those showers a couple of weather fronts drift across the uk which in turn will bring some spells of rain across southern parts, you can see one here draped across northern ireland, the north of england, into southern parts of scotland. these will bring showers and more of those showers will tend to build through the day. but i think many of us, especially across parts of england and wales, will see more of that sunshine and brightness tomorrow and those top temperatures, as you can see, in a similar sort of place, may be getting to 19 or 20 celsius at best. now, as we cast an eye upon tuesday, the low is slowly creeping away from us, and we have a little ridge of high pressure trying to build, so, a better day. this is en route, however, another weather front will swing towards us as we head towards wednesday. introducing some rain into northern ireland, western parts of scotland at first — it looks like we will see it moving across more eastern parts of the uk. again introducing cloud and some rain as well.
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temperatures potentially climbing just a touch as we head through the middle of this week, but it looks like things are likely to turn a bit less settled once more as we look towards the end of this week. we'll keep you posted, of course. that's the forecast. stay safe, see you soon.
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this is bbc news — i'm lucy hocking in tokyo on the closing day of the olympics. team gb cyclist jason kenny successfully defends his keirin title to become the first briton to win seven olympic gold medals. lauren price wins the women's middleweight final becoming the first welsh boxer to claim olympic gold. the us women's basketball team win its seventh consecutive gold medal with a 90—75 victory over home team japan. in other news: reports from northern afghanistan say there's heavy fighting in the city of kunduz, where government forces are trying to push back taliban militants. new changes to the uk's covid travel restrictions come into force.


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