Described by Mag North reviewer Fiona Georgiou Hunt as: “a simple tale… [that] also carries a deeper commentary on the human condition, the circle of life, the importance of nature and man’s connection to it”, one of the shows in Opera North’s current season is The Cunning Little Vixen by the Czech composer, Janáček. Appearing in the show as a Squirrel is Berta Admetlla, 23, who is currently in her final year at the Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds.
Berta explains how she became involved with opera and with this particular show: “I’ve been dancing for over nine years, I started when I was 14 years old with my ballet training in Barcelona, and two years later I was introduced to contemporary dance. When I was 19, I moved to Leeds to start a BA in Contemporary Dance.
“When I heard about this show with Opera North, I decided to audition because I thought it would be a good opportunity to get in touch with the professional world, make connections, gain performative skills, go on tour, discover a new artform and explore different ways of working. To be honest, I was also keen to try new things and discover myself a bit better. I thought overall it could be a really gratifying experience and I wasn’t wrong!”
While no stranger to appearing on the stage, the only opera Berta had seen prior to The Cunning Little Vixen was Mozart’s The Magic Flute: “it was a great experience being in the audience, but actually being part of an opera has been even better. I really appreciate all the work which goes into each show now.”
Not only did the role require adjusting to the world of opera, but the set is also very tricky for the performers to negotiate. Designed by Maria Björnson, it looks like a woodland landscape complete with hills, dips and hollows, making it all too easy for an unwary dancer to slip or - worse still - fall. It means Berta has to remain fully focused throughout, but she says: “I’m really enjoying this experience. It’s been a pleasure to work in such a professional environment with very talented and inspiring people who really care for each other.
“One of the most memorable things was opening night, because I hadn’t experienced what was it like to be involved in such a big opera production before. Everyone was so thoughtful, writing sweet messages to each other and giving chocolate and candy. It was definitely a very special moment.”
While dancing will always be her number one passion, Berta has definitely been impressed by the opera and what it offers artists and audiences alike:
“It’s a whole immersive experience. The music is amazing, the singers are great and this production involves lots of acting and dancing as well. The set, the characterisation and the costumes are definitely worth seeing. The lighting, the props…everything is perfectly designed. What particularly surprised me with this piece is that you can also find references to really relevant and current topics, like feminism, sexual awakening and the cycle of life and nature.”
There’s still time to catch Berta in The Cunning Little Vixen at Leeds Grand Theatre, with performances on Friday 3 and Saturday 4 March. After completing its run in Opera North’s home city, the production tours to The Lowry at Salford Quays, Nottingham Theatre Royal, Newcastle Theatre Royal and Hull New Theatre.
Tickets are available by clicking HERE with special discounts for people coming to the opera for the first time through Try It ON and for Under 30s.