How I became Britain’s 1st Award Winning Operatic Comedian

Balloonphotoshopped2

My name is Sarah-Ann Cromwell and in 18 months of hard graft, focus and craziness, I went from unknown Opera Singer, to Britain’s 1st Award Winning Operatic Comedian, sold out my own produced show Diva Gigs: A Week in the Life of a Diva, successfully toured the Edinburgh Fringe and went on to become the 1st Female Singer (in 30 years) of Cantabile: The London Quartet! LQprofilepictureHere’s my mad journey in blog chunks (click on the title which interests you)

How I became Britain’s 1st Award Winning Operatic Comedian

‘Make mistakes, take risks, never put limits on your potential’: Diva Gigs: The beginning

Ground breaking, why being unique is a marketing nightmare….(but so worth it)

Becoming a Female Comedian without fear! (with a little help from Grammy Award Winning Lady Rizo)

How to lose your voice and what to do about it!

This is what a successful crowd sourcing campaign looks like 

Advertisements

Diva Gigs does Ludlow Fringe: Final Stop!

I have been touring Diva Gigs: A Week In the Life of a Diva since 2012 and have stopped off at: Monmouth Festival, Buxton Fringe Festival, Ingestre, Middleton Hall, Deptford, Edinburgh Fringe, Battersea Barge London, Birmingham mac, the Kitchen Garden Cafe, Birmingham Pride and LAST STOP: Ludlow Fringe. This was a very special Diva Gigs for me as it was conductor Patrick Larley  who offered me my very first professional engagement contract with Ludlow Choral Society at Ludlows St Laurence Church . I met Anita Bigsby (the Fringe co-ordinator) at a stall in the Edinburgh Fringe sandwiched between Melbourne Festival and Brighton Fringe (most respectable) and when she called to invite me to perform at the Ludlow Fringe I jumped at it!

Social media marketing is powerful…only most people in Ludlow have a land line…and that’s it. The phone reception is shocking. Nope, I had to go at it ‘Old Skool!’ The budget for the marketing machine was a fantastic size zero and without the good will of the Ludlow volunteers I’d have had nill reach and even less resonance! Anita kindly put my face on the front page of the Ludlow Fringe Festival Guide which was then disseminated all over Shropshire and even featured in the Primary Times!

IMG_3800IMG_3571

The voluntary Ludlow Fringe Team: Ben, Darren, @SittingRoom, Ashleigh, Iran, Michael and the pianist Steve Dunachie showered Ludlow and the surrounding villages with my my flyers (kindly printed as a gift by @ResourceHousing) and my on-line Box Office was managed by Tony and Ros at the Ludlow Assembly Rooms, who even RTed some of my tweets!

IMG_3993

 

Now don’t go thinking I was sat on a chaise long eating strawberries! I spoke with Kate Tebby of BBC radioWM (sent them mp3s, blurb the lot) but was pipped to the programming post by Fascinating Aida and lets be fair, there’s no way that clean cut Diva Gigs is going to compete with a vivacious,  piano playing granny…who sings about Dogging! I seemed to be making headway with Simon of the Shropshire Star, but despite performing annually at St Laurence’s with the LCS and Ludlow being the catalyst for an Award Winning Operatic Comedian, I just wasn’t local enough..and the story never made it to the papers (booo). I emailed the Friends of the Ludlow  Festival who (to quote their website mission statement): wish to attract a range of performances and audiences to Ludlow and asked if they

“would be so kind as to include me on your website listings?”

and was informed that

“it would make more sense if you were promoted via the Fringe website rather than the Friends as you are part of the fringe programme?”

which felt an awful lot like; we want to encourage new artists and audiences….just not YOUR sort (I may be wrong of course, I AM a DIVA & my ego couldn’t take much more clobbering)

I drove over to Ludlow on Tuesday evening (3 hours round trip) and crashed the Ludlow Choral Society rehearsal with an elevator pitch followed by a quick Ludlow Gold with Anita and Steve and finally (the personal touch, because Ludlow’s worth it!) two days later I headlined the Ludlow Fringe VIP event at the Globe  (fabulous bar and eatery created by Adam) which is no mean feat following Bella Accappella, @Travotori and actors from the Ludlow Shakespeare Festival!

 

IMG_4002 IMG_4005IMG_4004 IMG_4012IMG_4013

 

The next day I called Ros at the Assembly rooms:

Me excitedly: How many tickets sold?!

Ros respectfully: 4

Me deflated: I wish I could drink……..

Saturday 21st arrived and I thought, what the heck! It’ll be a tiny audience so lets make it personal. Within 30 minutes Ana, my fiance and I had turned the Ludlow Methodist Church Cafe into Ludlow’s First Cabaret Bar (which included a £3k piano..Ana was beside herself with excitement). Ana and I legged it over to LCS’s Monica’s to change and then meandered back to the church cabaret bar. Ben’s head popped out of the door…he was mouthing: ‘its FULL”……SAY WHAT!!!!! I walked through the cafe door and was hit by a full house…A FULL HOUSE!! Holy cow! What followed was by far the greatest Diva Gigs we have ever done. Finally in a cabaret setting Bernstein’s Dina waltzed with a member of the audience, Semele rested her head tearfully on another’s shoulder and we pulled off the fastest Mozart alleluia yet…oh and there was laughter….so much laughter. Ludlow Choral Society and their conductor Patrick and Gill Larley were there, Anita popped her head in despite stage managing another show that night, Ashliegh found the time to take some photos, Adam left his bar for the evening to watch and even Phone Whore (Cameryn Moore: I am one of those people, not that into opera, but I REALLY enjoyed your show!) not only gave us a twirl but shrieked with laughter (I  ❤ her).

sarahandanaatludlowfringe

 

So there you go. Diva Gigs final A Week in the Life of a Diva….a resounding success! As I said in my show:

There are 1000s of Opera singers and only 100s of Opera Companies. Even if I were the best Operatic Soprano in the world, I would still be joining a pool of 100, of which there are only ever 10 jobs at any given time (possibly 11 thanks to Tamar Iveri)…so what’s a Diva supposed to do?..Well…I could bitch and moan about it..or…I could write a recital, tour it round the UK, pick up a few Awards, get rebranded as an Operatic Comedian…and you know what? I HAVE NEVER HAD SO MUCH FUN!

Thank you for sharing your evening with me, thank you  for being so wonderful, have a safe journey home and Good Night!

 

KISS KISS xx S-A: Diva x

 

How not to die on stage

Image

Sarah-Ann Cromwell: Diva Gigs first ever Birmingham PRIDE at Fox Bar for Ladies

I entered the back of the tent and the Diva Team walked through the front, I knew within minutes that Diva Gigs was in the right place but the wrong venue. Now, I know my team are hot. I don’t mention it as I value their performing, playing, PA skills more than their pretty faces. Within seconds Dav and Ana were accosted, not by a hello but the question (friendly, smiling, expectant, excited): ‘Are you lesbians?’  Simultaneously at the back of tent, I venture towards the sound crew, extending my right hand to the lady at the desk and (warmest smile in tow) and say:

‘Hi, I’m Sarah-Ann’ and was greeted with a warm, firm, wide eyed, response:

‘I’m her girlfriend’

Her girlfriend turns around and fixes me with a stare at which I continue (hand stretched out to her)

‘well, nice to meet you, her girlfriend, do you have a name as well?’

My mind is saying: ‘shit,  people are not here to listen to an operatic comedian, they are here to get laid’

Image

At the end of last year I attended a performance psychology workshop with the extraordinary mental skills practitioner Karen O’Connor. During the open discussions one of the delegates (who is writing a PHD linking Stage Fright with Childhood Upbringing) shared that brain scans show that standing in front of an audience and performing has the same physical and psychological effects as running away from a tiger. Yes, performing in front of an audience induces the same symptoms as the brain realising that it is in mortal danger. I had never experienced this….until now.

Thanks to Dr Steve Peters I recognized the symptoms immediately,  Have you seen X men or No Ordinary Family where both Professor Xavier and Daphne are overwhelmed by the voices in their head? The emotional and the human parts of my brain were having a full on war and for a nano second I wasn’t sure if I was going to run! WHAT DID I DO!?

  • Step one: I am leading a Diva Team and I need to appear strong, relaxed and in control..so…admit to somebody I trust that I am scared witless (the fiance)
  • Step two: Talk it out
  • Step three: rationalize!

What’s the worse that can happen?

I get booed….big freakin whoopdi do. It may hurt Diva’s ego but it doesn’t stop Diva Gigs being a great show..it’s just in front of the wrong audience.

The audience might throw stuff…they did at Macaulay Culkin’s gig and I really like my Diva dress…hmmmm…evidence so far suggests that: the staff are wonderful, from the owner, (Andy) to the bar staff (some of which have worked there for 15 years) the tech crew (Glen, Her GF and Her GF) to the front door security, they are an awesome, friendly, positive team. If the audience boo I’ll receive a puppy look and possibly a stroked head but if anybody dares to throw stuff…the culprit’s will be chucked out of PRIDE faster than they can inhale the breath that’s been knocked out of them.

And finally: if people don’t like Diva Gigs, they’ll move to another bar….the feeling of fear subsided.

WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED….?

Image

It was the weirdest gig I have ever done. I stepped up onto stage and received an appreciated wolf whistle. I began my Diva Gigs spiel and after 60 seconds the middle of the room turned their backs to me and their focus towards who ever they were chatting up. I sang O Mio Babbino and the room went temporarily quiet…immediately followed by a doubling in chatter volume. I thought to myself: ‘man, is this what it’s like to die on stage but not as Dido’?’ I finished…….and the whole room erupted with applause…..ay?  Song number 2, after some very quick mental re-scripting I talked about Semele, who she was and the scenario in which she was about to burst into song. I dropped the joke at the end of the story and through the loud chatter I heard from the back of the tent, a shriek of laughter….are people actually listening?? I figured the whole set wouldn’t be appropriate and signaled to Ana (who is uba flexible and used to Diva Gigs going off at another angle at a moments notice) to wrapped up with the final song…and that’s when it happened……..it started as a faint hum, a mumble, a dim of the chatter and when I hit the chorus, I had a full tent sing-a-longa Time to Say Goodbye on my hands…which is an absolute first for Diva! I couldn’t work it out. Some people were facing me, fixed attention but the majority seemed to be absorbed in other tasks or people and then I realized…I am in a tent full of women…woman who can text, talk, scan a room, clock clothes, clock people, flirt, plan their dinner, add things to their mental ‘to do’ list, all in 60 seconds without batting an eye lid…and these multi tasking officionardos were SINGING ALONG, not throwing objects or even boos! Damn, not-to-self: always take your phone on stage….

Image

At the end a transvestite or a person of transgender came up to me, took me by the hand and said: ‘that was a very brave thing to do and you were wonderful’….I looked he/she in the eyes wondering how I could possibly be braver then he/she and accepted the compliment with the greatest  sincerity. My Diva Team were great, the Pride Team were brilliant, the audience were awesome. I’m pleased I didn’t run away.

Image

Opera Singer sells out

Fantastic news!! Diva Gigs is celebrating its first ever SELL OUT GIG!!!! Yup Award Winning, Comedic, Operatic Cabaret: Diva Gigs; A Week in the Life of a Diva (sung by moi Sarah-Ann Cromwell with Pianist Ana-Maria Andritoiu) at MAC Birmingham, 27th April at 3:00pm is SOLD OUT! This is a unique position for the Diva Team. Compared with the number of  miles walked, phone calls, texts, e mails, facebook statusi, Instagram shots and Tweets needed by the Edinburgh Fringe, this gig has been a bit been a bit of a breeze!  …ermmmmm now what??

Well we get to create this thing that the Ed Fringe termed: A BUZZ…how on Earth do we do that?

It’s about getting the word Diva Gigs said, heard and seen 7 times. Yes, people that’s the magic number! I learned this from the Buxton Festival (where I won my Spirit of the Fringe Award) Marketing Pack . If you see something 7 times: Poster, Facebook status, tweet, magazine advert, message board, bumper sticker, E mail, T shirt, Tube ad, Side of a bus, flyer, text, phone call…it moves to the forefront of our brains. Even if we haven’t read a review about it, whether it’s a show or a chocolate bar, we suddenly think: oh I’ve heard of that, it must be good, maybe I’ll buy it. Unfortunately Diva Gigs doesn’t have corporate sponsorship which can spread my face across the billboards of Birmingham, so we’re going to have to get clever. Here goes:

No.1: Forget I am creating a buzz about me. I just can’t do it. I care too much about being mistaken for one of those self absorbed, arrogant, in your face, supposed business gurus that get onto The Apprentice. The ones who are instantly recognizable as making excruciatingly, painfully watchable TV rather than making good business decisions. Nope, I have to switch my brain and market in the third person, I have to create buzz about Diva , not Sarah! As Helga Henry said to me: ‘The hardest sell is to your self!’

No.2: Write a blog about ‘Diva Gigs first SOLD OUT GIG (ta dah) and mercilessly tweet it.

No.3: Hand write letters and cards to people in my working network ie journalists, councillors, business associates, who would appreciate a bit of Diva in their lives. It takes time because there’s no cut and paste, my only legible hand writing is Arial and my dyslexia causes poor spelling and missed out words BUT, it shows that I value their opinions, their presence and their chatter.

No.3: Call the local press: Express and Star, Birmingham Mail, Birmingham Post. Artists under estimate their local newspapers desire for local news stories. Buzz Buzz BUZZ!

No.4: Heres the bit that has been taking my time: RADIO! I have e mailed, tweeted and facebooked: Howard Goodall, Myleene Klas, Chris Evans, Elaine Page, WM Radio, Caroline Martin, Womans Hours, Classic FM, BBC Radio 3 and Heart. First thought, OMG

I am going to have to write a subject heading/tweet/Facebook that stands out from the 100s of others that they receive but which doesn’t make me come across as a bit of a TW*T (see No.1). Blandness doesn’t work, what choice do I have? Quick reminder to self: I am marketing Diva, not Sarah! I do a brain search of all the feedback I have received over the passed 24 months and start to construct the following, personalized headlines:

Music teacher quits school to become Opera singer, ends up award winning Operatic Comedian! 

Pro Opera Singer smashes the class divide with Award Winning Comedy: Diva Gigs

Black Country spawned, Brum resident Opera Singer smashes class divide with Winning Comedy: Diva Gigs

Award Winning Professional Opera Singer smashes the age and class divide with up close comedy

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little bit sick in the stomach at these, but none of it is slander, it’s all, a bit, cleverly worded!

No.4 Call the radio stations! (GULP)

No.5. Gorilla flyering! Taught to me by my Sister and adopted extraordinarily well by Davina and Helen in Edinburgh. The art of leaving a flyer as if you have read it and discarded it ie Restaurant, Pub, Hotel, Club, Cafe, Bar Toilets, tables, chairs, window ledge, menu (bit cheeky…don’t get caught) train seats, train tables anywhere where people queue or fill in forms: Post office and Bank tables use your imagination. Also works well with stickers in crowded places.

No.6 Birmingham Central library do a fabulous service. If you leave them 40 flyers they disseminate them amongst all their libraries. How nice and big community!

No.7 Exclaim Diva Gigs success at the next Birmingham Music Network Meeting – 4pm Thursday 24th April 2014 – See more at: http://birminghammusicnetwork.com/#sthash.3FC378Jh.dpuf

That’s as far as I’ve got for now. There must be a prolific blogger somewhere or well read online newspaper, I just need to find them. If you, you wonderful reader, have any ideas for creating buzz, I’d love to hear them. Meanwhile…..I’m off to re-jigg some of my script as, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Britains First Award Winning Comedic Operatic Cabaret, Diva Gigs: A Week in the Life of a Diva, rated 4 stars at Edinburgh Fringe by TIMEOUTLONDON, Broadway Baby, ScotsGay and Fringe Guru, is performing at Mac Birmingham, Sunday 27th April at 3:00 and IT HAS SOLD OUT!! YIPPPEEE!

http://www.sarahanncromwell.com/diva.html

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sarah-Ann-Cromwell/189610854384421

Diva Gigs talks sex

Image Last week I performed my first Diva Gigs collaboration at Concert Ingestre.

Throw Diva Gigs (Sarah-Ann Cromwell) Tenor Lawrence Olsworth-Peter and West End Pianist Ed Bussey into a practice room for a week and after much corpsng, howling with laughter and piano wizadry the winning comedic, operatic, cabaret: Diva and Divo Dating: A comedic chortle at relationships in the UK (8 scenarios from the real world) was born.

The show was an enormous success. The Diva Gigs ethos is to come straight out after a show and chat with our audience (unless someone is experiencing vocal difficulties, see previous blog) There were two 12 year old girls who were full of questions – who were the characters? Why did we miss out Mr Angry from internet dating? Could they see my engagement ring? They were confused and gutted that Lawrence wasn’t my real fiance…it was like admitting I’d shot Santa and cancelled Christmas. The 16-23 years old in the audience told us (eyes to the ceiling) that they’d recognised many of the characters we had performed from their personal dating experiences, which was positive feedback as all our performed characters were based on real people and real relationship stories, only characterised so we couldn’t be sued! At the very end a couple came to thank us for the show and left saying: ‘goodness me, we’re going to have some interesting discussions before bedtime…’

And this started me thinking. Laughter, opera, cabaret, dating, relationships, interaction, discussions….have we hit on something here? This was the most diverse set of conversations I’ve ever had after a Diva Gig. Why did they flow so easily? Can we learn from them. Have we stumbled upon something important? I thought back to my life before opera singing when I was a full time head of secondary music in Walsall (I had a fantastic time)…and remembered….sex education….that’s what this is…so what’s changed, what’s happening now and how does Diva Gigs and Diva/Divo dating fit in?

I googled sex education UK. This was the top hit:

BBC 8 January 2014 Last updated at 00:40 Schools urged to teach about consent in sex education (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-25637566)

Schools are failing to prepare young people for “pleasurable, equal and safe relationships”, according to the Sex Education Forum A third of 900 children and young people aged between 14 and 25 surveyed by the sex education forum said they had not been taught about the notion of consent, and only 43% said they had learned about what was “good and bad about a relationship” in lessons.

I was shocked. Are you trying to tell me that in the age of the internet, mobile phones, social networking, MSM, PING, Catlin Moran, Girls, East Enders, Holly Oaks and the Kardashians, that young people are not having discussion regarding what constitutes a : PLEASURABLE, EQUAL AND SAFE RELATIONSHIP???? I mean…REALLY?

When I was a full time teacher my colleagues hated teaching sex ed. I wondered if anything had changed and so posted the FACEBOOK status:

Any teachers out there prepared to talk to me about sex ed in schools? ie who teaches it, what age groups, do teachers like or dread teaching it?

The speed of which my facebook,  mail and phone went mad was a testimony to how passionately teachers feel about teaching (or not teaching the subject). Many teachers were told about it at the last minute (for example that morning) handed a wad of information but not given time to turn it into a lesson. They were then shoved into a pool of pupils (some of which, thanks to the internet, know more about sexual practices then the teachers) and expected to deliver an OFSTED excellent standard lesson. Not too surprisingly, they hated it. Teachers with more time to prepare concurred that the provided resources were useless so they spent their free time re-writing and preparing their own. They all agree that there is a lack of guidance concerning what they are supposed to be delivering. I perused of some of the resources on offer. There is an astonishing amount of info regarding contraception, STIs, pregnancy, puberty, masturbation, abuse, all of which is reflected in the media, internet and advertising: but I didn’t come across anything that highlighted or promoted discussions about ‘healthy, pleasurable, equal and safe relationships’. 

It seemed I’d stumbled across a big problem but if it wasn’t that high on the political agenda, maybe the Sex Education Forum statistics were just shocking me. A quick Google of this year’s headlines suggested otherwise:

Charlotte Church: “Girls are encouraged to present themselves as hyper-sexualised, unrealistic, cartoonish, as objects, reducing female sexuality to a prize you can win ” (Telegraph Tuesday 25 March 2014 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/music/music-news/10378821/Charlotte-Church-female-pop-stars-told-take-clothes-off-show-youre-an-adult.html)

Children as young as five are committing thousands of sexual offences as online pornography is warping youngsters’ views of “normal behaviour”, the NSPCC warned today. (The Telegraph 24th March 2014 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/9905727/Children-some-aged-five-commit-thousands-of-child-sex-offences.html)

Thisisabuse campaign: Would you stop if you could see yourself (from 2010 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzDr18UYO18) and:

SEX WITH SOMEONE WHO DOESN’T WANT TO IS RAPE 2014 (I am horrified that this needs to be a campaign in Britain in the 21st Century http://thisisabuse.direct.gov.uk/)

It might have been 2 years ago but even Cameron’s talking about it …

Guardian: David Cameron backs proposals tackling sexualisation of children. http://www.theguardian.com/society/2011/jun/06/david-cameron-children-sexualisation-commercialisation

In Britain we’re bombarded by sexual, provocative, suggestive images and sexualized stories: adverts, soaps, music videos (there’s also a rise in body image issues but that’s another battle for another blog). How can we challenge a young person’s perception of relationships when sexualised relationships are so heavily glamourised and re-enforced? The government can’t control the enormous fee flow of information without closing down the UK and it’s naive to think we can politely ask multi-billion pound movie, perfume, make up, music, clothes, food, drink, car, technology industries to “please stop using sex to sell products” and expect the response ‘Why of course dear boy!’ Teachers aren’t given the time, training or guidiance to write then teach a relationship programme, and the hierarchy of the ‘teacher’ ‘pupil’ relationship may not be conducive to delivering it effectively. Schools are burdened by the time consuming OFSTED excellent criteria and so relatioship training is way down on the agenda. Parents and carers don’t seem to be having these chats with their children either…maybe they don’t know where to begin? Is it any wonder young people are turning to search engines for knoweldge?

The Sex Education Forum has identified a fault line…and I’m thinking this is a gap which Diva Gigs: Diva and Divo dating could slot into? The show certainly opened a floodgate of questions and people weren’t embarrassed to share their relationship stories with us. I’m looking for advice from real-life qualified people (not just virtual ones!) to discover if our combination of comedy, music and story telling about real people and real relationship situations could fill this gap for schools. Would schools and government be interested in the Diva Effect, which appears to unlock curious minds and create a forum for honest and open questions of young people who are ill informed, pressured and uncomfortable when it comes to talking about respectful relationships….there’s no harm in thinking big?!

I left education for opera, opera lead me to cabaret, cabaret to comedy and now in a nice neat circle, it’s leading me back to school…hopefully to make a difference! And very exciting it is to!

If you have information or advise about the above please see the website and drop me a message

http://www.sarahanncromwell.com/diva.html

Sarah-Ann: Diva x

Diva and Divo Dating: Speed dating with Sarah-Ann Cromwell: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2WotgwHL7U

Internet dating with Lawrence Olsworth-Peter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BU_9Mjaph4

 

 

 

Tube strike #Divagigs

Thanks to the Edinburgh Fringe Diva Gigs was invited by Paul L Martin to partake in February’s Cheese n Crackers, London’s original variety and talent show (a TIMEOUT critics choice no less) which is on the first Thursday of every month. The last week of January I received a ‘this could possibly be bad news’ e mail from Ana-Maria and as I scrolled down I read the fatal words ‘tube strike’. As I pondered the consequences I realised that I have only ever travelled underground in London. I know what each destination looks like but the bit in between is a complete mystery.  I’ve sometimes been on a tube and wondered if I’m sitting still and the rest of London is re-arranging itself above me…which, in light of this present event,  would have been time better spent working out where I was going.

Wednesday arrived, the strikes were confirmed and it was with more than slight trepidation that I boarded my train from the beautiful art deco Birmingham Moore Street to London Marylebone. Something else was bothering me….something was niggling at the back of my head..what was it….oh yeah, I’m heading into a strike zone inhabited by a society of people who HATE waiting. I remember a friend of mine exclaiming indignantly because we’d missed the tube and now had to wait a full TWO minutes for another one…..yes people, two…whole…freakin’…minutes? Try 17:00  in Brum and the wait can be an hour or missing the bus in the Peak District and discovering the next one is scheduled for tomorrow! That was the niggle… London people do not like waiting and this happy-go-lucky Diva was about to get hit by a storm cloud of bad-tempered, irritable, negativity….you know what..?..I was absolutely wrong!

moorestreet

British people in general are known for sucking it up and getting on with it, albeit with a lot of complaining. I have learned that Londoners are the epitomey of resilience. Tube strike in full swing, everybody suffering an average increased journey time of 100%, I expected to walk into an enormous, every-man-for-themselves, umbrella twirling, bag swinging, bus queue fight! What I was actually confronted with was people having ‘passing the time’ conversations, which was a bit like being back in Brum. There were periodic eye darts towards bus stop signs, presumably checking for digital signage…which didn’t exist…though it happened so frequently that even I glanced at the metal post even though I knew it was impossible for the digital information to suddenly appear (Erving Goffman’d have a field day).

busstop

Woman and families were the most overtly worried. It was dark and there was recurrent apologising as ladies, mothers and fathers craned their necks through passengers and towards bus windows and doors, hoping to recognise anything that may signify home. One guy on the train platform took his whistle out of his mouth and ushered people onto the train in a whispered tone so as not to disturb the startled looking baby (way passed its bed time) wrapped up in a blanket, hugged close to its mother’s cooing  face (what a hero!).  I don’t know why tfl employees decided to strike, but, as I sat on my snail paced bus, I hoped that they had a good reason to justify placing their cities woman, children and families into a vulnerable situation.  I wondered how much the economy had suffered yet people had benefitted from London having to work at a pace more akin to Derbyshire. From the outside, London is viewed as cold and unfriendly. But, when faced with something out of it’s control, I didn’t see any fights, I didn’t walk into a cloud of despair, people eventually got home and the on the whole, the city was flooded with understanding and kindness. It took me 4 hours to undertake a 3 hour journey. Me and Ana had a great rehearsal and knowing that our trip to her flat would be delayed, we went to the pub…well, it felt good to do my bit for the London economy……

2014 #DivaGigs

I do hope that January has been splendid for all of you? Here is an update on the year so far for Diva Gigs and Sarah-Ann Cromwell:

I have many identities: Sarah-Ann Opera Singer, Diva, Fiancee, Auntie, Friend, Leadership coach, Teacher, Lecturer and Plate Spinner Supreme!  This year is full of wonderful opportunities, fabulous people and for many of my Kickstarter pledgers, babies!…who could ask for more? Well? How about some Diva dates for your diary, including not one but TWO midlands Diva Gigs!!!  A week in the Life of a Diva and a brand new Diva Gigs: An Operatic chortle at dating in the UK today with Tenor Lawrence Olsworth-Peter and Pianist Ed Bussey:

The Edinburgh Fringe Diva Gigs comes home to Birmingham:

  • Saturday 15th March 2014 Concert Ingestre
  • NEW: Diva/Divo: An Operatic chortle at dating in the UK today! Sarah-Ann Cromwell (Diva Gigs) and Lawrence Olsworth-Peter (Aeneas/Dido&Aeneas 2013)
  • Box office TBC

And for those of you who like a bit of the serious stuff:

  • Saturday 8th March 2014 7:30pm
  • Magnificat, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, Gloria, Antonio Vivaldi, St Lawrence’s Church, Ludlow, 7:30pm, Ludlow Choral Society. £15 & £10.

This next one I am very excited about! Not only does it show case the finest operatic soloists in Birmingham, but (I am also honored to say), I will be singing with my buddies!:

  • Wendy Dawn-Thompson: New Zealand’s 2005 Cardiff Singer of the World
  • Mitesh Khatri: Grange Park Opera and Longborough Festival Opera
  • Byron Jackson: Welsh National Opera
  • Saturday 5th April 2014 7:30pm
  • Seven Last Words of our Saviour on the Cross, Haydn, Missa Brevis, Kodaly. Elgar Concert Hall, B15 2TT, Birmingham, 7:30pm, Birmingham Festival Choral Society.

In between will be the usual rehearsal, marketing, poster creating, box office manning, teaching, coaching and the addition: cooing at new-borns! What more could a Diva possibly ask for?!

Thanks for reading, thank you for believing in #divagigs and have a simply marvelous 2014

Hope to see you soon!!

Sarah-Ann: Diva x

http://www.sarahanncromwell.com/

http://www.sarahanncromwell.com/diva.html

http://www.divagigs.com