I have been chosen to become an Opera Scout!
Last year the Opera on the Rhine introduced their first opera scouts - characters about town who are known to an audience not immediately associated with the opera. People from various areas of Düsseldorf city life - such as the master baker in the fourth generation and former Carnival Prinz Josef Hinkel; Christiane Oxenfort, director of the wonderful performing arts festival Altstadtherbst, Heike Billardt, press officer of Zakk, the multi-cultural arts centre so many of us enjoy concerts at; Patricia Gall, sales manager of Düsseldorf's top hotel Breidenbacher Hof. There are also fashion designers and advertising executives; students and actors; museum directors and gallery owners.
15 in all. They visited the premieres and followed up with an casual exchange about the performance, gave press interviews and wrote their personal impressions for the Opera House website. The project, the first of its kind in Germany, was a great success, bringing in numerous new visitors to the House. So much so that the 15 are now to be 20 and I have asked to be one of them!
This year most of the scouts are remaining, the students are being replaced by new students and there are one or two other additions. So then doubly pleasing for RhineBuzz - when Tanja Brill, press officer for the Rhine Opera, met me to discuss my new involvement in this project she asked if I would maybe know of a young person who could join us. I'd recently met Caroline Hobbs, a young, Australian cello player studying for her masters at the Robert Schumann Music School. Looking for new people to meet and things to do, she had found us on the web and joined us for one of the Ballet on the Rhine performances. Caroline was very happy to meet some of the RhineBuzz community and was keen to be take part in more RhineBuzz events.
I suggested Caroline to Tanja. I asked Caroline to write about her recent experience at the Ballet without explaining what it was for, and I asked for this by the end of the week!
Caroline came up trumps, wrote a great piece, sent it in on time(!) and Tanja liked it very much.
So here we now are! Caroline Hobbs cannot believe her luck, she is incredibly excited about this and I am thrilled to have helped this warm young woman find a link to to the opera house, the city and people she might otherwise not have had contact too. I'm sure her reviews will enrich the Opera Scout project enormously and hopefully encourage more young people to come and join us in this wonderful house.
Caroline and I will be writing in English so that you can all discover what is happening at the Opera House. The scouts got together at the Opera House on October 18th for the first time. They met Christoph Meyer, artistic director of the Opera on the Rhine and Martin Schläpfer, the award-winning artistic director of the Ballet on the Rhine and spent the evening meeting one another and then observing a part of the dress rehearsal for the scouts' first premiere of the season this evening. I couldn't be there myself on Monday, so I look forward to bringing you Caroline's first impressions all the more.
Thank you Tanja Brill and all at the Opera on the Rhine. I'm always greeted by warm, smiling faces when I pop in to the offices. It's been a great partnership for RhineBuzz this past 15 months, the House is pleased with the new people we have brought in and the RhineBuzzers have experienced some wonderful performances. Becoming an opera scout is an added treat I am thrilled to accept, I love opening the doors of this wonderful house to those who might not have visited had they not heard about the opportunity with us. This can be due to so many reasons - some don't wish to go alone, others have never been to the opera or ballet before or maybe they simply missed the German information and didn't know that the Opera House was there.
My personal thanks also to dear friends Leandros Taliotis and Kurt Helbig, both I met in December 2008 and who, since then, have given me insights to the workings of an opera house and those that work there, which I just knew so very little about before.
Our first premiere as scouts is tonight - we will see Dialogues des Carmélites. Caroline and I are so looking forward to our new roles!
You will be able to read about it here and on the Opera House website very soon.
Now on the Opera House site to download, the Opera Scout reviews are the first piece on this page.