Lara Martins, the longest serving Carlotta Gudicelli in the history of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera in the West End at Her Majesty’s Theatre, stars in The Opera Makers brand-new opera, Hopes & Fears as part of the Arcola theatre’s Grimeborn Opera Festival 2021.
Created with Shine Cancer Support UK, this compelling new opera includes an original libretto based on a collection of stories of people living with cancer, by Olivier Award nominee and Off West End Award winner Becca Marriott, set to the beautiful and haunting music of Claude Debussy. It features a delicate new musical arrangement by award-winning pianist and musical director, Panaretos Kyriatzidis.
Hopes & Fears is at Grimeborn Opera Festival from 1 – 4 September 2021. Tickets are on sale here.
You’re starring in Hopes & Fears at Grimeborn Opera Festival, what can you tell us about the show?
Hopes & Fears tells the story of two women living with terminal cancer, and of those who surround them. A mother who fears she will not see her son before she dies, and two lovers who struggle to say goodbye.
The libretto was written by the wonderful Becca Marriott , set to the gorgeous music of Claude Debussy with a new arrangement by Panaretos Kyriatzidis and beautifully staged by director Jorge Balça.
What do you admire most about the way writer, Becca Marriott, has tackled this difficult subject?
Becca is a very gifted writer, and she has done a remarkable job with the libretto. She interviewed people who have been directly affected by cancer (i.e. patients, family, friends, people in remission…). These testimonies have provided Becca with plenty of inspiration, which allowed her to skilfully transform the originals into a very honest and real account of what it is to be affected by cancer.
One of the things I most love about her script is that it is real and crude, but at the same time poignant and witty; one moment you are crying and the next you’re smiling.
You’re the longest serving Carlotta Gudicelli in The Phantom of The Opera, how does it feel to be taking on a new role, and what do you like most about the character?
After such a difficult year for the performing arts, I am very grateful to be back in a rehearsal room, being creative along with other amazing colleagues. The cherry on the cake is that I was offered a great role to explore.
I play the role of “Lover’, the partner of one of the women dying with cancer. The Lover, is an eternal optimist; she believes until the end that everything will be ok, even when it is clear that this will not be the case.
She is catholic, with a strong faith, but estranged from church because of her sexuality. When there is nothing else to turn to, she turns to God and waits for a miracle that can save the love of her life.
And how would you describe Claude Debussy’s music to those who may be unfamiliar with it?
Claude Debussy was a French composer from the beginning of the 20th Century. He is the father of the Impressionist movement in music. This movement tried to move away from the extremes of the romantic period, known for its orchestrations for large vocal and instrumental forces. The impressionist movement focused on mood and atmosphere; on music as a vehicle to convey emotions.
Debussy’s music is very subtle, with gently-moving patterns and changing atmospheres. For Hopes & Fears we are focusing on two of his relatively-unknown cantatas, which have been very seldom staged. The cantatas are La Demoiselle Éllue and L’Enfant Prodigue. Both of these works are of great musical beauty and emotional power. Expect to recognize Clair de Lune, one of the most identifiable pieces in classical music.
What have you enjoyed most about working with The Opera Makers?
I loved the collaborative spirit of the team. This has been a very intense and humbling process. The subjects addressed by this opera are very real for all of us. There are tears every day in the rehearsal room, but also intense joy for taking part in the creation of this new work, tackling a subject that affects so many people in such different ways.
What would you say to anyone thinking of coming to see Hopes & Fears?
Be brave and give it a go! I know that after the last year and a half, going to see a show about cancer is probably not on most people’s priority list, but I assure you, this is really worth it. There is something incredibly cathartic about it and maybe a good cry is all that we need at the moment!