Presented by Royal Academy of Music alumni mezzo-soprano Avi Green and soprano Ashleigh Charlton – hence AA – this relatively new podcast features our two hosts interviewing a variety of people from the world of opera. Although interviewing feels like too grand a word – it’s more like a chat between friends over a cup of tea and is much the better for it.
Avi and Ash are very genial hosts. They clearly get along well and share a real love for their artform. Having met backstage at a rehearsal for Cunning Little Vixen (Janáček, 1924), they are embarking on their own careers as professional singers. They are keen to find out what it takes to make it in the world of opera, and that’s where this podcast comes in.
Ash and Avi talk to a huge range of people working in opera. Some recent guests include stage manager Nicola Candlish, who is CEO of British Youth Opera and founder of Opera UK, a new support organisation for the UK’s opera community, baritone Simon Wallfisch, post-production colour specialist Keith Shapiro, director Olivia Fuchs and soprano Samantha Crawford. And that’s just a small sample – there are episodes going back to September 2019.
The insights, advice and information shared by such guests is fascinating. You feel like you’re accompanying Ash and Avi on their own journey of discovery and I’ve certainly learnt a lot along the way.
AA Opera Podcast is really aimed at people working in the arts and especially those just starting their careers. But there’s plenty here for the more general opera enthusiast. It offers a wonderful glimpse into the world, lives and work of those employed in the sector. Much of the advice given for those starting a career in the arts can be adapted and used by anyone – especially that relating to mental health.
The coronavirus pandemic, lockdown and how this is affecting opera and the wider arts industry, as well as the wellbeing of those working in it, has been a hot topic, for obvious reasons. There is much here that many of us will relate to. Thoughts on how to make the most of this time, as well as not putting pressure on yourself to do everything, is relevant to us all.
It’s also a reminder of just how difficult this time has been for the arts. As I write this theatres are still shut, but there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon. I can’t wait for them to reopen, to be allowed back into venues, and it does seem like that will be happening soon. In the meantime this podcast is a good way of getting your opera fix. It’s also a way of supporting two artists working in the industry (Ash and Avi run a Patreon for those who have the means to contribute).
As well as the interviews, each episode has a ‘catch-up’ with Avi and Ash, where they check in with each other, relating what they’ve been up to. This is very informal and particularly appealing during these days of lockdown in which we all have come to appreciate such interactions with friends.
This is a really enjoyable podcast. Episodes last around an hour and are available every Friday. Anyone thinking about a career in opera or just setting out will learn a lot, but those with an interest in or just wanting to know more about the artform will also gain a huge amount from having a listen.
An informal and informative podcast that can be enjoyed by those who want a career in opera and those who simply love the artform alike.