This past year has affected everyone; even if you have not had Covid-19, you will know someone who has. However, there has also been a ripple effect as so many people have been affected in other ways; they may have lost their jobs, income, and consequently their general wellbeing. Covid has had a devastating effect on the arts and no section more so than opera. Opera singers train long and hard to learn this art form and so when public performances were closed down, their income dried up too.
I have been so inspired by the way these young opera singers have reinvented themselves and found other ways of sharing their passion via performances on YouTube and online lectures. They have also rolled up their sleeves and developed other skills. Needs must.
I have written before about Opera Prelude, a charity supporting young, aspiring opera performers. (Click HERE to read the article.) Opera Prelude has been stretched this past year, supporting their young performers both financially and mentally. It has been incredibly tough, so whilst they have had support from their patrons, it became clear that they would need another form of income.
Fiona Hamilton, one of the two co-founders of Opera Prelude, was not going to be defeated by the pandemic, but she knew she had to do something to help these performers. So, following the success of the cards they sold online, the Opera Prelude team encouraged Fiona to launch an online gift emporium. Many of these gifts are musical-themed.
She has found British artisans. With them, she has developed a range of products specifically for Opera Prelude supporters, opera lovers and anyone who wants to support this art form.
I recently caught up with Fiona. I use the phrase caught up on purpose as Fiona is never still and is always thinking about how she can help others. When we met, she was housing some cattle for a friend and had fallen for ‘Buttercup’, who was about to face her final hour, so Fiona was negotiating to keep her so that Buttercup could spend her remaining years in glorious grazing.
Back to the opera singers. Fiona has been so conscious that she must help these young stars of the future. However, she was also impressed by how they wanted to turn their hand to other things to earn a living. The shop is well named as an emporium as it truly is. On every page that you click on, you will find beautiful and inspirational gifts either made by British artisans or some produced by the Opera Prelude performers themselves.
Emily Burnett, a Soprano, extremely talented at singing, can also make the most delicious Brownies, which you can order from the Opera Prelude shop. A box of these Letterbox Friendly Triple chocolate Brownies (£12 for 6) would make a wonderful gift for a friend. Click HERE.
Amy Lyddon, a mezzo-soprano (a ‘warmly expressive’ mezzo-soprano (The Guardian)), has turned her hand to producing luxury hand sanitiser, hand cream and stunning candles, all made with 100% pure essential oils, with her lifelong friend Katie, a musical theatre actress. Their company is called Posy and Pear. 5% off all products when you enter discount code OPERAPRELUDE at the Posy & Pear checkout. Go to Posy & Pear by clicking HERE.
And coming soon: Mark Austin, a conductor, will be reviewing books related to opera. These books will be available through the online emporium. A review from someone completely independent who also knows the subject matter is invaluable when choosing a book for someone who loves classical music. Currently, there are some books already available that are recommended; however, Mark’s reviews are not there yet. Click HERE for the book page.
Meanwhile, the artisans that Fiona has found have produced items for Opera Prelude, and the profit from these sales will continue to support the opera performers until their professional lives can resume. Fiona has a wonderful eye for choosing gifts that are both unusual but also of high quality. The artisans that she has chosen still value traditional skills and use local, natural or recycled materials
I am ordering some of the picnicware (middle row, right of pictures below), perfect for all this al fresco dining in all weathers that we have embraced. Don’t worry if you find something is not in stock as I did with the Duke of Gloucester tin plates as I am assured more stock is on its way.
As for all of us, life has temporarily been on hold for all of the Opera Prelude performers. However, if we care for opera and want to see this next generation reach their goal of performing to live audiences, then we can help by visiting the Opera Prelude Gift Emporium and purchasing gifts for our friends or even for ourselves.
If you want to listen to the podcast I made with Fiona Hamilton when she explained how Opera Prelude works, you’ll find it HERE.