La Sonnambula, 2019

Directors notes for the Auditions

Audition Date 7.30 pm Weds. 18th July 2018

Widcombe Junior School Pulteney Road Bath BA2 4JG

To register for an audition contact Jane Clark by email or telephone 01935 425 689.

For details of the audition format and audition fees please see Bath Opera's audition policy.

Rehearsals will start in September and will initially be on Sunday mornings in Bath with Wednesday full company rehearsals as it starts to come together.

The work

Our plans for the main production of 2019 are for Bellini's La Sonnambula (The Sleepwalker). We will all have a lot of fun doing this.

First of all - it is a Bel Canto opera and so the singing is superb for everyone. The music is really beautiful and not intrinsically difficult to learn or sing.....but it is difficult to bring off successfully - particularly in English where the word rhythms are all wrong. So don't think you are going to have an easy time ! there will be a lot of work to do on musical style and precision to replicate the drive energy and articulation which the Italian language adds to the music

The story revolves around the village favourite, engaged to be married but who blots her copybook by being found in someone else's bed . Only when it is discovered that she is a sleepwalker ( La Sonnambula) does she get let off the hook by having a plausible excuse. Its all rather silly, but good fun.

It is supposed to be set in a Swiss village in the early 19th century with a family who own a Mill where the villagers all know each other, gossip madly, are sentimental , suspicious, credulous, change their mind at the drop of a hat and get very easily confused. These characteristics are vital for the story to work but I am sure that we all would welcome a change from the 'middle European Peasant' look, so I have looked for other locations where these characteristics could be found and I have decided to set the opera in a modern day retirement home/village.

We will have a full staff of carers , nurses, physios , caterers etc and the principal roles have been changed to reflect this. So :-

Amina... is now a nurse

Elvino... is now the inhouse doctor

Teresa... is now the cook in the retirement home (and is also Amina's real mother although Amina thinks she has been adopted)

Lisa... is now the care home manager

Alexis... is the physiotherapist

The Count... is now retitled and is an inspector for the Care Quality Commission who has turned up unannounced to do an inspection. It turns out that there is every likelihood that he is actually Amina's father following a fling he had with Teresa in their youth

Don't think that the retirement home setting is going to be staid though, I am planning it to be a fairly riotous place with lots of naughty behaviour.

The only English translation in published scores is absolutely dire, so I have rewritten all the libretto where the new setting is relevant and where more generic words are appropriate Graham Billing has very kindly allowed me to use a translation he did a few years ago for White Horse Opera. I have written any word changes in the audition pieces, ( soloists onlyat this stage so chorus lines may not fit), but I am very aware that it may need some coaching sessions to fit the words to the colluratura music and so if you want to audition in Italian that's absolutely fine by me and also has the advantage of helping you get a feel of the correct phrasing, pulse and energy . Obviously if you prefer to do the English translation that will be fine too - it s up to you. Where the audition piece is a duet it will be safer to do it in English so that we know both parties will be in the same language!

Audition pieces, vocal and character notes


Coluratura soprano, High Tessitura with frequent top C's and often very florid style. Range low C to Eb above top C

Character - a bit sugary sweet and frankly a bit wet but every now and then we see a steely defensive side to her. She believes herself to have been an orphan and this perhaps gives an air of vulnerability and a particularly strong urge to get married and be happy ever after.

Amina/Elvino Duet 1 | Amina Aria | Amina/Elvino Duet 2


Also coloratura soprano with high tessitura. range up to top C.

Character - very spiky lady. She is the boss of the care home and at the start of the opera we learn that she has just been jilted by Elvino in favour of of Amina, one of her employees, so she is not a happy lady and she vehemently shuns the advances Alexis makes towards her Then its back on again with Elvino , then its off again so the poor woman doesn't know whether she's coming or. going. Compared to Amina though she's much more business like and rooted

Lisa and Alexis Audition Pieces


Lyric Tenor. High Tessitura and needs to be able to do florid style incorporating high C

Character - He's a doctor but seems to me to be a bit of a spoilt brat. He waxes very romantically. about his dead mother but his betrothals are on and off on a whim

Amina/Elvino Duet 1 | Elvino Short Aria | Amina/Elvino Duet 2


Mezzo, quite a lot to do but no big stand alone aria

Character - nice motherly type. Everyone thinks she took Amina in as an orphan but when the inspector turns she is thrown into total panic as her secret might come out that she is actually Amina's real mother and the Inspector is probably the father. Shows steel when she is fighting her boss Lisa on behalf of Amina. Lots of scope for acting particularly when the Inspector is reminiscing about having a fling with someone at the home many years ago not realising it was with her.

Teresa Audition Piece

Inspector (Count)

Bass with range from low G to top E flat. Needs big enough voice to cut through the chorus going at full pelt.

Character - a bit self important he has some power over the home by virtue of his report, and he knows it. Still a bit of a lecher he tries it on with both Lisa and then Amina before some inkling of recognition and decency holds him back.

Inspector Aria | Inspector 2nd Audition Piece


Bass baritone. Mainly sings with the chorus but starts the opera off by leading the residents in a 'physio 'chorus, setting up the scene with Lisa and then leading the chorus in a welcome chorus to Amina so its apart with considerable presence. As a physio he has to look moderately fit!

Lisa and Alexis Audition Pieces

If you have any difficulty reading my writing then please do not hesitate to contact me

I look forward to seeing you at the auditions

Neil Kirkman

^ Back to Top