• SianLewis

After eight episodes, three extraordinary songs and countless hours of teamwork behind the scenes to bring the production from script to life, viewers can now enjoy the entire series of The Soprano on our YouTube channel.

Inspired by the challenge of a cancelled UK care homes tour, The Soprano shares the joy of opera with those who feel isolated, alone or lonely.

Yet, it’s not only viewers who have benefited.

At the production wrap party (virtual, of course!) the Health:Pitch team shared their experiences of being involved in The Soprano.

As well as many firsts, mostly connected to fathoming out the technology required to record episodes in their own homes, the team all agreed on one thing – being able to create together was a huge boost.

The unexpected joy of being able to do something new, creative and collective in lockdown felt like a massive positive for the entire Health:Pitch team. And one, they had not dreamed possible given the very real barriers of lockdown.

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

Maya Angelou, American writer, poet, and civil rights activist, 1951-2014

There was creativity aplenty on this Health:Pitch project. Scriptwriter Dr Helen Eastman’s script summed up how so many felt when their lives were suddenly put on hold. The three singers, Francesca Lanza, Louise Crane, and Tom McVeigh brought that script to life with a light, fun touch from their homes in Italy and the UK. Their passionate performances of Là ci darem, O Sole Mio, and Nessun Dorma struck a chord (sorry, I couldn’t resist) with viewers across the world.

Jane Mote, Connor Whitfield and Joshua Kershaw, from video production company beechtobeach took a team of tech beginners to new heights of smartphone mastery and taught (remotely, of course!) the singers how to record their performances. Justin Lavender re-imagined Nessun Dorma for the series finale as a thank you to frontline workers and gave viewers across the world goosebumps in many different languages.

To create when the creative arts were curtained, to perform together (albeit remotely) when no one thought it possible, to bring to a brand new public an original piece of music theatre when no one thought it possible felt incredible.

Harnessing the power of creative people to channel their talents felt like a daily positive in an often numbingly negative news cycle. Proving that (with a little help from technology, and lots of friends) original performance can reach those whose lives and minds can be the hardest to reach felt incredibly powerful. It also made the entire Health:Pitch team realise the vast future potential for taking music theatre production to an even wider audience.

As Albert Einstein, may or may not have said, “Creativity is contagious. Pass it on!”

We couldn’t agree more.

11 views0 comments
  • SianLewis

How do you find the words to say how you feel when you have never lived days like these before?

New experiences, often challenging, fill our thoughts. We need new words to share them.

Music can cut through a wall of emotions and touch the soul. Which is why, now more than ever, we need music to express how we feel. New Words for New Times.

This is what moved international tenor Justin Lavender to re-imagine the much-loved Nessun Dorma as a thank you for frontline workers everywhere. And you can enjoy his version in the finale of The Soprano, which goes live on our YouTube channel on Saturday 11th July, at 3pm. A standalone video of Nessun Dorma will be available on the same channel from 3.30pm that day.

“Inspired by the work of Health:Pitch, which I have seen close up, and by the unstinting commitment of frontline workers around the world, I decided to write new lyrics and an arrangement for the familiar Nessun Dorma," Justin explains. "We all saw the emotional images of singing from Italy, and I wanted to capture that for this production."

The Health:Pitch team strive to make world-class music available to all, which during COVID-19, with a tour of care homes cancelled, has meant learning new skills too. Justin, who is also a professor in vocal studies at the Royal College of Music, was also on hand to help his wife Louise Crane film, in their home, her duets with Francesca Lanza for episodes five and seven.

For the final episode, Tom McVeigh will join Francesca and Louise to sing Justin’s new Nessun Dorma. Will you be there to enjoy it?

All episodes of The Soprano are free to view on our YouTube channel. If you need any help sharing them with those in your care, please get in touch. We would be happy to help.

The Health:Pitch team could not have bought The Soprano, a digital music theatre production featuring well-known opera, into care settings and peoples' hearts without the invaluable support of incredible partners.

As the three opera stars sing out their thanks to frontline workers, we would like to thank Dr Helen Eastman for her fun scripts that perfectly capture the mood of our times. We would like to thank the National Activity Providers Association, the National Care Forum, One Housing Group and the talented team at specialist media production company beechtobeach, who helped our stars to master the technology that made The Soprano possible.

Even with a driven team of volunteers, funding has been an essential element of this project. Thank you, Arts Council England, for believing in the power of music to connect us all. Thank you for helping us to enrich the lives of those who have enjoyed The Soprano, and who can continue to enjoy the videos on our YouTube channel. Thank you for your ongoing support to help us reach those in care.

Don’t worry… we’re not going to sing! We’ll leave that to the professionals.

6 views0 comments
  • SianLewis

Music fuels human connections at a profound level. When people are isolated, and feel alone, the Health:Pitch team find a way for them to enjoy world-class music.

When international opera singers are locked down in their homes, unable to tour care homes, we find a way for them to perform and record together.

Where there is a way to be creative, we will find it; so we can share it with those who need it most. It’s what we do.

“Never were such healing joys more needed,” says soprano Emma Kirby DBE. Emma and her husband Howard Williams, professor of conducting at the Royal College of Music, London, both saw the previous Health:Pitch piece, The Audition in Codford last September.

“Having already enjoyed The Audition, I am delighted to see and hear Francesca again,” says Emma of The Soprano, the current Health:Pitch musical theatre production. “She is such a sparkling performer but also warm and funny, wonderfully without pretension.”

The latest episode of The Soprano, written by Dr Helen Eastman to reach those who are or feel isolated due to COVID-19, is all about connecting.

How do we stay in touch when we cannot see each other? How can we share the pleasures of life, food, friendship, music, and creativity, with family and friends when we cannot be together? Technology holds the key. From the stage at La Scala to a smartphone video in front of her sofa, soprano Francesca Lanza has shaped her performance to capture the sheer delight of opera to share across the world. The Soprano is music, in this case, much-loved opera, for our times.

In the latest episode, Far Away Friends, Francesca and her friend Louise Crane, a former - and hopefully future - performing partner, find a way to sing together. They even master the technology required for their digital duet.

From Saturday 4th July, co-star Tom McVeigh will join Francesca and Louise. Is it possible to audition virtually? Tune in to find out.

“It is no surprise that Francesca, Louise and Tom engage so well with audiences everywhere,” explains Emma Kirby. “And that they have in particular bought the power and humanity of opera to vulnerable listeners, with often extraordinary results. It’s truly a case of music as a balm for the soul!”

“The therapeutic power of music is of incalculable help,” says Howard, echoing Emma’s sentiments. “At a time of limitations to live performance, there is a new need, namely to find and communicate with those whose loneliness is currently made so much worse by the pandemic. These entertainments will certainly bring delight and comfort to many.”

Sharing the healing power of music with those whose lives and minds can be the hardest to reach fuels the Health:Pitch team. In our times, technology is our friend.

However, if technology is not your friend; if you need a helping hand sharing The Soprano with those in your care, then please get in touch. We would be very happy to help.

19 views0 comments