A day in the life of a Deputy Stage Manager

Ever wondered what it’s like to be a DSM? Well, I caught up with the lovely Anni who is currently very busy with Tamerlano rehearsals down in London!

My name is Anni and I am the Deputy Stage Manager for Tamerlano. A normal day involves setting up the rehearsal room ready for when everyone arrives with the relevant props and costume in place. Once rehearsals begin it is my responsibility to keep note of the movements of the company in each scene and any technical requirements we will have once we are on stage. All this information is kept in an annotated score which we call a ‘prompt copy’ or ‘prompt book’. The notes I make I also distribute to the production team daily to ensure that they know how the creative process is progressing. When we arrive at the theatre I will add information like changes in lighting or elements of flying set to the prompt copy, and then I will cue every performance from this book.

The role of DSM is a really exciting one, to be able to observe and help facilitate the creative process is a privilege. I have been lucky enough to work with some incredibly talented singers and creative teams in my career so far. Every day brings a new challenge, no two rehearsal processes are ever the same. I am very proud to be part of what the Tamerlano team are creating at the moment and will look forward very much to sharing it with audiences at Buxton Festival.

Anni Butler DSM Tamerlano 

Tamerlano is on at Buxton Opera House on 10, 14, 17 (matinee) and 21 July.

An interview with mezzo soprano, Imogen Garner

The end of May marks the beginning of opera rehearsals in London. Before things get under way, I managed to catch up with Imogen Garner who will be joining the opera chorus this year. Imogen studied at the Royal Northern College of Music and has been a member of the Buxton Festival Chorus for the last few years. To read more about Imogen, click here.

Have you always known you wanted to be a singer, or did it develop over time?

I’ve always loved singing and as a child I was drawn to singing based films and programmes. I didn’t realise quite how important it was to me until I reached my twenties, I then applied for a postgrad at the RNCM and was very fortunate to be offered a place.

How did you land your first opera role?

My first operatic role was Annina in La Traviata for Wilmslow Opera.

What made you apply to audition for the Buxton Festival Chorus?

I’ve worked with lots of singers who’ve relished their experience of working in the Festival and so I went along to watch and really enjoyed the atmosphere and feel of it.

You are all covering a role in one of the Festival’s operas this year. Could you tell us a little more about the role?

I’m covering Irene in Handel’s Tamerlano. I’m really enjoying her; she enters the opera expecting to marry Tamerlano but after discovering he has chosen another, she disguises herself and vows to win him back.

How do you start learning a role? Do you approach a role differently each time?

I always intend to approach a role in a systematic way starting with the notes and the music and building layer upon layer but often it becomes less structured and more organic.

Is there a particular opera in this year’s Festival programme that you are looking forward to performing in?

I know most about Tamerlano so the production of that is most intriguing to me at the moment.

For people who are less familiar with opera, is there a particular album or show that you’d recommend?

My first experiences of opera in my late teens were La Traviata and La Boheme at Opera North which I loved.

What has been the most memorable opera production or concert that you have performed in?

I think the most memorable experience to date must have been The Mastersingers at ENO, the audience’s response at the end of the first night was overwhelming.

What would be your dream operatic role and why?

I’d love to have another opportunity to perform Mrs Grose in The Turn of the Screw.

Is there a particular opera singer you really admire?

Kathleen Ferrier. I admire her as she seemed to be someone who remained completely true to herself with very natural and effortless sounding singing and performing

The Tamerlano cover show is on Tuesday 19 July 2-3pm at the Palace Hotel.

Lily Bracegirdle Executive Assistant