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Richard Cartmale and Opera Foundry

by on 8 February 2018

The Mozart Effect, at Ormond Road Richmond on Saturday 10th February

Richard Cartmale and Opera Foundry

Mark Aspen chats with ex-ENO singer and conductor, Richard Cartmale

Last year Opera Foundry presented The Language Series, which skilfully presented the essence of opera in the Italian, French and German languages in three separate productions. William Vine reviewed French Opera for Mark Aspen Reviews and Mark Aspen in turn gave a detailed critique of German Opera. Opera Foundry now returns to Richmond in 2018 with a brand new series, The Great Composers Cycle. Mark Aspen interviewed Richard Cartmale, the Musical Director of Opera Foundry after the opening of its new production in Guildford.


Richard Cartmale

Richard Cartmale                     Photograph by Emma Stow



Mark Aspen: Having had the great pleasure to review your German Opera concert last year in Richmond, I am delighted to hear that Opera Foundry is returning to Ormond Road this weekend with your new project. Could you tell me a bit more about your current project?

Richard Cartmale: It is very pleasing to hear how much you enjoyed Opera Foundry’s Language Cycle, and this year the intention is to follow the pattern of having three foci for our concert, as we did in turn last year with Italian, French and German Opera. Our Great Composers Cycle uses three anchors of the repertoire, Mozart, Verdi and Puccini.

Mark Aspen: I believe you put your toe in the water at Richmond a few years ago with a similar series.

Richard Cartmale: Oh yes. It was the first time we did this, in 2015. We presented an all-Mozart programme followed by an all Puccini and an all Verdi. Artistically this was surprisingly successful. In the case of Mozart, which we presented at St Mary’s Parish Church in Richmond, we had a large and enthusiastic audience.

Mark Aspen: Why do you say “surprisingly” successful?

Richard Cartmale: Well, Opera Foundry’s main raison d’être is the development of emerging opera singers. We are a highly regarded platform for advanced singer progression and our performances act as a showcase for our work.

Mark Aspen: So the concerts largely emerge from the development of singers already established in the field of opera?

Richard Cartmale: We try to retain a core of nineteenth century opera-house repertoire as something directly applicable to the development of our singers. In practice this means that our membership, which is selected from across the whole of Southern England, will be showcased in our Great Composers Cycle.

Mark Aspen: I once described your concerts as opera for the thinking audience. But does your audience have to be opera buffs?

Richard Cartmale: Far from it. We believe that Opera Concerts can be, and should be, a vital, engaging and richly satisfying experience for any music lover. If you are a seasoned opera-goer, our concerts are a wonderfully satisfying way to bridge the gap between trips to major productions. If you are new to the medium, then you can discover more music in one evening than you ever could seeing a single production. You will also hear more singers. A full Opera Foundry concert features at least twelve soloists. Sometimes it is more. You will hear duet trios, quartets, sextets as well as arias.


Sarah Quantrell

Sarah Quantrell, Principal Repetiteur                          Photograph by Robert Piwko


Mark Aspen: Richmond upon Thames is of course an area well known for its immersion in the arts. Hence, the potential audience that you have just described will be local opera goers and music lover.

Richard Cartmale: More than that. That audience can be as wide as it wants to be. Whilst we are not doing this from any crowd-pleasing perspective, we have gradually become aware that there are a decent number of opera-lovers within the Richmond area – people who actually appreciate an intelligent and thoughtful programme and high musical standards. The problem is always convincing them that they won’t be attending another rambling aria-fest of poorly-delivered favourites.

Mark Aspen: So what can we expect from The Mozart Effect, this weekend in Richmond?

Richard Cartmale: At least partially inspired by some of your comments on the Mark Aspen website, as well as discussions with colleagues, we are now presenting a more thought provoking mixture. In later concerts, Verdi will, in due course be presented in the context of his contemporaries, as will Puccini, but before that we are putting together an exploration of Tchaikovsky and the not so obvious relationship with Mozart’s music. This is against the backdrop of the three Mozart operas with Da Ponte libretti.

Mark Aspen: Then Richmond will be treated to an interesting insight into the way these famous operas came into being.

Richard Cartmale: We wish to contextualize the repertoire and expand the development opportunities of our singers, at the same time, as part of a more pro-active programming policy that will engage our audiences.

Mark Aspen: The Guilford audience loved The Mozart Effect, so now it is Richmond’s turn at Ormond Road on Saturday 10th February. We look forward to it.

Richard Cartmale: We can promise you, the highest level of musical and vocal preparation to give you rich, intense, intimate singing and intelligent, passionate and historically informed programming. It is opera by opera specialists.

Mark Aspen: I will be there, at glass of wine at the ready for the 7:30pm overture.

More details are on the Opera Foundry website.

Photography by Robert Piwko


From → Magazine, Opera

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