Archive | August 2013

Best audience yet!

Guest blogger: Helen Ross – Social Media and Marketing Diva

Hello from #divagigs at Surgeons Hall outdoor bar!

Tonight was our 8th performance (sleep depravation made that a very hard calculation!) here at #edfringe and we have just had our best audience yet! So thank you to everyone that came and made our night brilliant! We, #divagigs couldn’t do it without you!

Lots of love, #divagigs


Diva Day Off: Being a civillian!

The meaning Diva is a ‘High maintenance women’ but the simple truth is: I’m an opera singer, my body is my instrument, if I knacker it I’m out of work. This usually means:

No caffeine: It’s dehydrating, increases speaking speed, makes you cough A  LOT and creates phlem = loss of voice

No sugar:  Instant high followed by an instant energy crash, tiredness compromises technique = loss of voice

No wheat: Bloating and tummy ache: diaphragm hits stomach: acid rises and coats vocal folds = loss of voice

No Alcohol: dehydrating, makes you cough, speak too much and too loudly = loss of voice

Fatty foods: Chip, Pastry, creamy, anything fried, acid reflux coats vocal folds = loss of voice

Yesterday I had my first proper day off….since January….I decided to be a NORMAL PERSON FOR THE DAY! It was brilliant!

I drove to Portabello with Davina my Diva PA. Edinburgh people don’t seem to like Portobello but I bloody loved it. It’s like Blackpool only cleaner and without the stag dos!  We had chips, covered in ketchup in a COB whilst walking along the sea front.  We ate full fat dairy chocolate ice cream whilst dangling our feet off the sea front wall. We went to the FUN PARK (an oxymoron) it was dark, smelt of old  chip fat and housed half filled, broken and stiff coin pushers (you know like the ap you can get on your phone…only…real!)….which kept paying out

and we used our winnings (a whole £2) to play the old fashioned shooty game, ie not a fancy computerised 3D thing but creaky puppets, wheelies and levers that (surprisingly) still spray you with water when you hit the bulls eye.

In the evening I watched an Opera and ate a massive pie from the The Pie Shop and then at 11:00pm filled with sugar, pastry and wheat I passed out… was a great day…my voice’ll pay for it tomorrow….blurgh…Diva x

Becoming a female comedian without fear

I was in our Diva Flat in Leith when it happened. My fiance’s name flashed onto my phone. I’d just left him on a bus travelling to the airport back to Brum so I presumed he’d forgotten something insignificant, like his plane ticket. His opening sentence was:

‘Your review’s up’….

‘Is it bad?’

‘Have a read’

‘You’ve not raced back with a bottle of wine so it can’t be that bad’

My Diva team are über efficient and hit their mobile internet at the merest whiff of anything Diva-ey,  so before I’d hung up Diva PA Davina had googled Broadway Baby and was shreeking ‘do you want me to read it for you, do you want me to read it for you?’ as if I had any choice in the matter….

Sarah-Ann Cromwell, a Birmingham lass who has discovered that ‘you don’t have to be posh to sing opera’, chats and sings up a storm in Diva Gigs. Charting her opera journey, which has taken her around the UK and Europe, Cromwell summons several colourful characters to tell her story, including a disdainful opera coach and Rhydian, of X Factor fame. With the help of a skillful pianist [Ana-Maria Andritoiu] who isn’t afraid to join in the fun, Cromwell blasts out the numbers that have shaped her career, accompanied by hilarious explanations of the operatic story-lines, with the disclaimer ‘it sounds much more romantic in Italian’.

Cromwell breaks free from the yoke under which many female comedians find themselves – the idea that women can only be funny if they are making jokes about being women…

REWIND<<<<<<<< excuse me…

Cromwell breaks free from the yoke under which many female comedians

…..hang on…female what…shit it says I’m a what….?…PANIC ATTACK!

I’ve been quite clear about the ol’ comedienne title…I have long ago accepted that between me and my sister, she is the quick-witted, sarcastic one who has verbally sparred with many a pub pollock. In a stand up heckle situation she would trash them…I would die a stomach turning, headache invoking, nightmare terrors inducing death….and now the words Cromwell and female comedian have just been scribed in the same sentence and committed to print……farrrrrrrrkkkkk.

My fear was this: does this give people permission to descend upon Diva Gigs and heckle throughout the entire performance? Are people going to expect a 50 minute show of gags and be mightily confused when I actually ‘do’ sing opera? Added to that is the knowledge that I’m at the world’s largest arts festival surrounded by extraordinarily brilliant comedians and writers (some of which I have had the privilege of chatting with), whose craft I respect and admire. Putting myself into the same category feels…well, like someone reliably and proudly informing me that their 16 year old daughter is “an opera singer just like you” which is bloody remarkable as she managed to achieve this status without committing 10 years worth of continuing hard graft, technical study, coaching and lessons…why did I bother?

For 2 days the review was a blessing and curse which lifted me and dragged me down in equal measures. I came to the Fringe to help define Diva Gigs as a brand and as a concept and I now felt more out of control, confused and scared than before I landed in Edinburgh…

Yesterday I attended the TO&ST in the Afternoon session at Fringe Central. I wasn’t exactly sure what it was, only that it was about cabaret, and as that’s what I now do I ought to give it a twirl. On the panel was Ben Walters, Phil Kay, David Bates and Lady Rizo. These people are passionate about cabaret, and having spent my entire life listening to people talk opera stories, roles, conductors, editions, interpretations, harmonic progressions, technique, bel canto, modulations, linguistics, translations, coaches, teachers and directors, it was fascinating to listen to 4 highly accomplished and established, industry experts talk with passion and absolute freedom about ANOTHER ART FORM. Engrossed and inspired the terrifying haze of confusion began to evaporate:

Phil: Cabaret is a one off undefined act

Lady Rizo: A cultured chaos

David: where the audience are invited to be part of the act without being the star


Lady Rizo: I am a female comedian cabaret superstar. I do not do stand up, a driven, linear attack style of comedy where you win or lose…

Davis: where everything is about getting the laugh…

Phil: where the intricate art of humour cannot be drawn out and explored (his hand movement reminds of my Sister when she is waterpainting)

Lady Rizo: When I say I’m a comedian and people say “tell me a joke then” I say “if you F**king pay me I’ll tell you a joke”

The Brits have a strongly defined idea of ‘cabaret’ (tits and tassels) and ‘comedy’ (stand up). In reality saying ‘I am a comedian’, is the same as saying ‘I am a musician’, only the question is usually: What do you play? Yet nobody asks: What kind of comedy?

Ben advised me that Diva Gigs is a grass-roots production and I should think carefully before I withdraw my associations from any specific genre. It was a thought-provoking point:

graphThe online definition of a comedian is: A person who amuses or tries to amuse…and the main point of Diva Gigs is to remind people that Opera can be funny! Therefore by definition, I am a female comedienne…no, I am a comedian….Diva Gigs is Britain’s first award-winning comedy operatic cabaret…..Ben told me to be careful about saying that too…but I’ve googled the heck out of it and so far I’m the only one coming up with awards…sorry Ben, I’m green….I’ll die of shame later….when I’ve figure out another way to hook people into Diva Gigs at the Ed fringe x

Full review:

And on the ninth day…

… #edfringe created naps. After 2 days off which only seems like 2 hours the Divas are feeling refreshed! Really? Who are we kidding?! We are massively tired but we are loving every minute of our first #edfringe

Guest blogger: Helen Ross – Social Media and Marketing Diva

Shakespeare, fire works and zombies! OHH MY!

Guest blogger: Helen Ross – Social Media and Marketing Diva

It is now the end of day 6 in the Big brother house… Wait no! The Divas are in Edinburgh and #edfringe madness may have just set in.

The Divas third performance went down a storm and we had a lovely audience! So thank you if you made an appearance tonight!

Shortly after the Diva team headed to Space on North Bridge for some culture to see Shakespeare’s The Winters Tale and caught the end of the Tattoo. We may have forgotten to eat, endured several scary and potentially zombie ridden Edinburgh roads and a late night food shop! But the Divas have had another successful day at #edfringe! Lets see what Tuesday can throw at us…

The Divas first #edfringe review

Guest blogger: Helen Ross – Social Media and Marketing Diva

Diva Gigs are very proud and honoured to announce that we have received our first review for our performances at #edfringe. awarded Diva Gigs: A Week in the Life of a Diva, a fabulous four star review!

Please follow the link below to read our review.

#edfringe day 3

Guest blogger: Helen Ross – Social Media & Marketing Diva

Today promised a busy day right from the off, with two of our divas heading off to ‘meet the media’ at fringe central!

Two and a half hours of sitting on a cold, dirty floor in a very long queue of performers and several symptoms of flu later, we appeared in front of the media to work our magic and queue once again for a very long time!

Two successful hours later we were off to premier Diva Gigs: A week in the life of a diva at #edfringe. That’s right our very first performance was last night and after a few slight technical hiccups, we smashed it in true diva style!

Two more hours later, we had also managed to see our friend from the media queue (Maddy’s many mouths), eat, see friends and fall into bed!

Now awake and refreshed we are ready for day 4!