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11th July - 7th August 2021

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Humour in Opera: Arias to Make you Laugh not Cry

On 8 April 2021, Marlborough College Summer School hosted an online webinar with former opera singer, Helen Astrid. You can listen back to the full lecture, including some wonderful musical clips selected by Helen here.


Webinar Recording | Humour in Opera: Arias to Make you Laugh not Cry


Most opera is deemed long, serious and unintelligible. The humour is often overlooked and is as understated as it is spiced with ambiguity, embarrassment and clashes with the moral values of the characters portrayed. In this intriguing talk, Helen Astrid examines a handful of opera arias from 1816 - 1967 where comedy takes centre stage. Let's not forget the words of George Bernard Shaw, 'Opera is when a tenor and soprano want to make love but are prevented from doing so by a baritone.'


Our Expert for the Evening

Helen Astrid is a former opera singer and has performed with English National Opera, Garsington Opera Festival, The Linbury Studio Covent Garden and Chelsea Opera Group. She has performed in several UK premiere's including Die ägyptische Helena and Daphne, both Strauss conducted by Normal Del Mar and in Terrible Mouth, Nigel Osborne and in 'Tis Late, It's Ten PM for Tête à Tête Festival. In 2017, Helen produced The Juniper Tree by Philip Glass, receiving its UK premiere in London to great critical acclaim.

She has considerable experience giving talks on the history of opera both online and in situ and her Ted Talk, 'Tell me the Truth about Opera' has been viewed by thousands. Helen lectures for Bishopsgate Institute, Cambridge University, Imperial College London and International School of London. She is Director of Corporate Singing Workshops delivering innovative and bespoke training sessions both online and face-to-face, for companies and organisations around the world.

Helen launched Opera Live at Home in September 2020 and is thrilled to be providing a highly rewarding and nourishing experience for both audiences and artists. It is also a rare chance for the stars of tomorrow to be seen and heard especially during these unprecedented times. She lives in Twickenham and is the proud owner of an Arabian mau cat, Riesi.

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