5 Inspirational Opera Moments

  • By Natalie Bradshaw
  • 31 Jan, 2016

As Natalie prepares for her upcoming shows, what inspires her to study the art of opera?

Katherine Jenkins Opera Blog
Katherine Jenkins - Classical Crossover Queen
The first performance of  Natalie Bradshaw: The Operatic Experience  is just around the corner, and it's all systems go at Full Beam HQ to rehearse all of the songs, nail lyrics and prepare costumes. Starring Full Beam Productions co-owner, Natalie, it is set to be our biggest selling show of 2016 - but seeing as it's a Sunday, and we enjoy having some down time, we've had chance to find out what inspires Natalie to perform opera and classical crossovers. Here are her top 5 inspirational anecdotes - enjoy.

"Opera is when a guy gets stabbed and, instead of bleeding, he sings." - Robert Benchley

Opera is the strangest thing I think exists in the musical world. It's certainly personal taste as to whether you could sit through a whole bunch of arias, in multiple foreign languages, and come out the other side saying you thoroughly enjoyed it. But I think what has always captivated me is the surreal feel that you get from watching an opera singer. Here is this person, singing in such a way that their voice needs no amplification, and the person opposite, to whom they are singing, is staring at them with the same solid look which they would have if they were simply talking instead. I love how flippant this Robert Benchley quote is, because opera really seems just like this; someone gets stabbed, and this voice comes gushing out in place of blood. It's massive, and grand, and breath taking, and quite bizarre all at the same time. I think that's what first drew me to opera - it's the closest I could get to the dramatism of ballet. It has a draw with me, like the tale of Swan Lake did when I was a child. I wanted to be a ballerina for the big stories, and now, I love being a classical singer for the big notes. I love how it feels when my voice soars out to hit the high notes - it's a satisfying timbre in my ribcage, and I just love it. Quotes always inspire me, and there are so many good ones. This is my favourite, but I also enjoy the ones which laugh at opera slightly. It's a strange thing to be involved in, so it's good to be able to laugh at it in a way.

"I watch them at 3am, with my headphones in, when I can't sleep..."

Youtube is this phenomenal place, where people post all sorts of videos - and there are thousands of opera clips, masterclasses and exercises to look at. They get quite addictive to flick through! I've found some fantastic warm ups, some great pieces of advice, and I try to put everything I've learnt into my singing. Even if I'm not singing when I'm watching them, I soak in the information, and try to put it in to practice the next time I get chance - I watch them all the time! I watch them at 3am, with my headphones in, when I can't sleep. Jim doesn't know that, if he woke up, I would look like a complete fool, I've got these massive Beats headphones, and Joyce DiDonato chatting to me through them! Currently, I'm learning to perfect my trill - it's slowly getting there, but I was getting frustrated - which is when I fell across this video (below) of a student being taught how to trill by Joyce. She's such a knowledgable lady, and actually, her exercise works, I'm nearly there with mine now!

"They have revolutionised classical music!"

Bond String Quartet
I first fell in love with string music - like girl group Bond.
Classical music isn't just "boring" and foreign anymore. There are some amazing people out there who are making it more marketable for today's generation - and they are succeeding. I think researching different styles of classical music, not just opera songs but piano, violin, concertos and everything else that falls under the classical bracket, not only extends your knowledge in your art form, but ignites a passion for it. I first fell in love with a girl group called Bond, who played as a string quartet like they were the next members of the Pussycat Dolls! They were phenomenal - I love all their albums, and especially their Winter Sun song. It's so uplifting, and makes me want to dance. I also love Josh Groban, Hayley Westenra, Charlotte Church in her early days, and of course, Katherine Jenkins. They have revolutionised classical music! I love the idea of classical crossover -  Bring Me To Life  is one of my ultimate favourite songs to perform - Evanescence were great with the original, but Katherine Jenkins made it even more amazing! I would definitely recommend to any budding classical singer that they extend their music knowledge, and explore what is out there - they don't have to stick to older classics anymore.

"It's about acting the words, singing the songs and moving the moves, all at the same time."

Elina Garanca is brilliant to watch, because she capture opera on stage perfectly. Her characters are believable and understandable - even though she is singing in French in this video, you know exactly what she is trying to achieve.

I remember, when I was learning opera, that my singing teacher encouraged me to completely separate my voice from my movements. She had me folding laundry, and doing fouette turns whilst singing Caro Mio Ben, in a bid to make my voice unaffected by movement. Opera is the clever mixture of a foreign language running through you brain, and coming out in big, bold notes, at the same time as moving around as if you are just walking down to the shops for a pint of milk, and whilst you're there, looking like your dog just died. It's difficult to portray everything when you don't naturally speak that language, so it's important to read into what you're singing about, and focus on the movements as well, for the full package - just don't let those grand notes be ruined. It's a fine art to master, and one that takes time. It's about acting the words, singing the songs and moving the moves all at the same time - and that's a lot to ask!

Katherine Jenkins
Jenkins is my ultimate inspiration - look how far she has come!
My most important inspiration is my idol - and for me, it has to be Katherine Jenkins. She is, to me, perfect, and setting my goals against hers aren't entirely out of line. She has achieved so much, and done so much for music, and I love the fact I can sing her songs.  The Operatic Experience  really celebrates her as an artist, she is the main focus throughout the show, and actually, just thinking about her performances helps me shape my own.

I listen to her every day - and other artists too, male and female - in order to give myself new ideas. It isn't about copying someone completely, it's about taking what they do, and moulding it into your own performance. Joyce DiDonato, Elina Garanca, Josh Groban and Hayley Westenra are also top of my list for listening to and watching. I take advice from all of their performances, and I always will.

Opera is a growing process - it won't happen overnight, and I don't think I will ever know when it has fully "happened". But I love working on our latest show, it's a great chance to show people what I can do, and I hope everyone enjoys it as much as we do!

 Natalie Bradshaw: The Operatic Experience is available for bookings from 1st February 2016.

What's Happening

By Natalie Bradshaw 10 Oct, 2017
Eastbourne is playing host to a BRAND NEW singing competition!

We need audience members for Shine Bright Tonight, which is happening on 15th November at TJ's Nightclub, Eastbourne! With six artists from the local area battling it out in front of our panel of three judges, it's set to be an amazing night - with a cash prize up for grabs for the lucky winner!

For the audience, it's a night to remember, filled with excellent music from hand selected young performers. You never know, you could be watching a future star! You'll get to hear feedback from our judges, including industry professionals and representatives from BBC, and mingle with owners of some of the biggest businesses in town.

On arrival, there's a complimentary drink, and then to sweeten the deal, all money from the bar on the night goes to Children In Need - supporting an amazing cause!

This is not a night to be missed, but tickets are limited - so make sure you visit the website to purchase tickets now!

See you there!
By Natalie Bradshaw 25 Aug, 2017
Once again, we have compiled a newsletter , so you can see what we are up to!
By Natalie Bradshaw 08 Aug, 2017
With August well and truly underway, we've been taking our Summer Fiesta show to care homes in Sussex. With a few more to go, we look at some of the highlights so far.
By Natalie Bradshaw 16 Jul, 2017
Natalie Bradshaw takes the time to think about the residents who have been with us from the beginning, who are sadly no longer here.
By Natalie Bradshaw 08 Jun, 2017
When myself and Jim decided to approach care homes with activities and entertainment, it was new territory to us both. We had worked hard, for many years, as members of teams at resorts worldwide - working our way up from Animation to Team Leader, to Management - and so we had a good idea as to how to put together performances targeted at certain audience types, but care homes presented a whole new range of obstacles to overcome.

We have been providing activities now for nearly two years, and working closely with some of the biggest care home providers in the UK has certainly helped to shape our business, performers, and the shows we put together - and now, we are pushing forward with putting Full Beam Productions at the head of a new era of care home entertainment; one which comes away from war time classics, and sleepy songs, and instead creates excitement, smiles, laughter and fun for that short hour in which we are invited into the lives of those being cared for.

It's a very rewarding business to be in, but it's also one which needs to be done correctly for it to be effective. Today, I'm breaking down exactly how Full Beam Productions works, and how our approach puts a refreshing new spin on activities, and hopefully takes a step towards shaping the future of entertainment in a care home environment.
By Natalie Bradshaw 07 Jun, 2017
Hello, and welcome to our very first Wednesday Wardrobe!

Each week we will be bringing you a different blog post, or video, or both (!), taking you backstage and behind the scenes of our wardrobe department, as we prepare for each of our upcoming shows. Learn with our step by step videos how to create our props and costumes - or follow our tips for how to find the best bargains for specific dance numbers and performances.

We really hope that you find our new blogs interesting and informative - and if you think of anything that you would like to see us talking about, let us know by commenting below! Don't forget to let us know if you try to make your own version of our feature each week too!
By Natalie Bradshaw 28 Mar, 2017
In June 2016, Full Beam Productions owners, Natalie Bradshaw & Jim Pyle, were introduced to Nicole Allen - a girl with so much energy, and so much enthusiasm for life, despite suffering from the illness cystic fibrosis.

Nicole travelled around all of the care home performances, and 14 consecutive showings of Miss V & The Beamers throughout Summer, with the company, and the creative team were quick to cast her as the lead role in the James Penguin: Christmas Impossible  pantomime that December too - there was nobody better for the tap dancing, Agent P role!

As Jim & Natalie sat down at the end of 2016, to discuss which charity should be chosen for fundraising the next year, it seemed like there was no other option as good as this one - raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust was the first, and final decision.

"Nicole was inspirational throughout the tour - she had completed a month away from home before coming to the final rehearsal, and hitting the road for 14 consecutive shows. She could have told us that it was too much, that she was tired - but she persevered until the very end, and continues to do so even now. She's a true member of the Full Beam Team, and we want to help her - and supporting this charity does exactly that."
By Natalie Bradshaw 09 Mar, 2017
Jim Pyle discusses the history of swing music, plus how to choose between tribute artists, vocal groups, or a spectacle which is not to be missed.
By Natalie Bradshaw 27 Dec, 2016
2016 has been a whilrlwind year for Full Beam Productions. We sat down this weekend, whilst enjoying a few festive days off, and managed to flick through some of our old photos and videos, from the past year, and we are amazed by how far our little company has come in such a short space of time. So we thought we would make a video, to show you how great it has been, and to say thank you for being there, every step of the way!
By Natalie Bradshaw 14 Nov, 2016
Edited February 2017.
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