Sonia Ennals shares her experience as a member of the chorus

This is now my 4th Blackheath Halls Opera chorus preparation and at least I now know what to expect!

So to begin with we have had to learn all the chorus music and words. In my case this meant downloading the Alto note bashing CD onto my I-phone and zoning in at every possible opportunity. This has mostly been when I commute to Waterloo from Greenwich on my trusty Brompton (pictured above). I am imploring and adoring and afflicting pain all my way to work when all my pains melt away and I honour the holy man. As a result of listening to Rose Ballantyne singing on the rehearsal tapes for an hour a day for the last few weeks means, I have got it sorted!

Musical Director Nicholas Jenkins has got us through the music rehearsals and the chorus is now really sounding professional and rousing when we are standing still! He really knows his stuff and is entertaining as he manages to sing all the parts so beautifully from Bass to Soprano so we can pick up our leads.

I was relieved that the recent email to a handful of chorus members asking them to change their evening gown costume colour from red to some other colour was not applicable to me. My only worry is that my dear husband took my very orange robe into the Dry Cleaner who has gone on holiday for two weeks! What was he thinking of? This could be a crisis in the making.

We are now well into the Production rehearsals, which means that we have to sing, surge not only once but thrice, and walk and in fact not only to walk but also to emote whilst we are singing and walking! So we need to implore, adore and sing and walk and to remember which bench we sat on and which door we came in from. How do I sing and greet someone, hug them when they are singing something quite different and remember where I go to next? I guess you get the picture. However, I am now a dab hand at finding the correct door to exit from, but Harry (Fehr, Director), it is true that acting and singing simultaneously is still a bit of a challenge – but honestly I will have it sorted by the time we go public.

Just when we think we have it taped, then other complicating factors will play in to the equation. For example the Principals will be joining us from Saturday. That is genuinely exciting. To have real talent who are literally all singing and dancing in our midst really gets us to raise our game. Then add to that the children who want perform and swarm around us plus with the big guns from the Orchestra, every rehearsal from now on includes new complicating elements. I don’t know how Harry (Fehr) does it?

I am very much looking forward to it all coming together and singing everything through in the right order and every year the chorus sounds better and better boosted by the very fine Trinity Laban music students many of whom are acting as chorus leaders. My main concern is whether I will eat too many of Jay Hassan’s opera fund raising cakes to fit into my dress. I may just have to fit in a few more visits to the gym around the very busy rehearsal schedule. But as I am due to retire on 30th June, yes honestly, then I should be able to get it cracked.

Sonia Ennals, Alto Chorus Member


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