Image: Ana Fernandez Guerra as L’écureuil (the squirrel) in Samling Academy Opera’s production of L’enfant et les sortilèges. Photo by Mark Pinder.
Soprano Ana Fernandez Guerra, 21, tells us about the first Samling Academy 2015 weekend in Durham, in the second of a series of guest blog posts from participants. Ana graduated from Newcastle University earlier this year.
‘The first day back at Samling Academy this year was incredibly exciting. There was still a buzz from L’enfant et les sortilèges earlier this year, in which I got to play the part of L’écureuil (the squirrel) and La bergère (the chair). It was lovely to catch up with some of the other cast members and some of the opera’s production team during the weekend.
In this respect, Samling has not only impacted my singing, but it has also brought me close to other like-minded young people who are studying or live in the North East. We all value singing as an essential part of ourselves, and are willing to work hard to strive for this world of classical singing. We are also extremely lucky to have Samling Academy as a part of our young careers.
Last weekend, we had the privilege to work with director Martin Lloyd-Evans. He led stage-craft workshops, which used games to simulate the tensions and stresses that can happen onstage. In both the game and in real-life performance situations we need to stay calm, be precise and respond accordingly.
He also made us tap into our imagination: I really had no idea how powerful the imagination can be, and will be using it much more in my practice as well as in performance. But overall, I think what I will take away the most from Martin’s sessions will be the importance of being honest in your performance, really meaning it and speaking sincerely through what you are creating.
All the Leaders that we worked with last weekend impacted my singing in just three days: the same happens every time that I’m involved with Samling Academy, and it’s incredible. This wasn’t only because they worked individually with me: just seeing the way that Academy Leaders approach sessions with other students really influences me to work hard for this art-form that can be so beautiful but requires a lot of dedication and patience.
I’m really looking forward to the next Samling Academy weekend: in the meantime, it’s back to the day-to-day routine, as well as doing lots and lots of practice!
Samling Academy 2015 continues at Newcastle University from Friday 23 – Sunday 25 October, and culminates in a public concert at Sage Gateshead‘s Northern Rock Foundation Hall on Sunday 25 October at 7.30pm. More information about Samling Academy can be found on our website.