Reuben Pace

Blog 83 - Maria Grazia Grech

'Blat' has definitely been the highlight of my learning journey so far at School of Music. Firstly, as a Maltese person, I felt very proud to take part in an opera written in the Maltese language and about a local historical event. What I also enjoyed is that the libretto explored and dissected wartime experiences from different perspectives, including that of the poor and the 'common' people. Moreover, it presented a realistic view of the consequences and effects of being part of the British Empire, something which at school seems to be glossed over and I am glad the project did not present a rose tinted view of events. 


Another thing I found interesting was that the opera explored relationships and the fact that love may transcend political affiliations and social standing, with the ensuing challenges that may occur. 


Musically, learning the choir part was challenging as this was a style I am not regularly exposed to. However, after several sessions both with Mro R. Bianchi and with Mro. R. Pace himself, it became clear to me, just how intricate this work is. Moreover, it is peppered with various interesting references, including the British national anthem,  Addio del Bel Passato from La Traviata, the use of the 'Devil's Triad' on referencing death amongst others. 


Being able to sing such a complex work gave me a deep sense of accomplishment, knowing that through participating in this project I also strengthened many aspects of musicianship skills. This has been of great benefit to me in later projects and auditions I have participated in since this experience.


The recording experience was fun even though it was demanding. I have mainly had experience interpreting live music, so I definitely learnt a lot about the process of recording, which has a different set of challenges from live music but also its own perks such as the use of click tracks, being able to adjust the volume of voices to focus on whichever area is useful etc etc.


Finally having taken part in the filming of Blat was an amazing experience in and of itself. Yes, the hours in the shelters were long and exhausting and other filming locations presented interesting challenges such as walking in a field with heels. However, not only was it a very educational experience, I also ended up getting to know a fantastic group of people who I am now proud to call my friends and colleagues and with whom I have since collaborated with in other projects. So another benefit of this experience was networking and developing further opportunities for career progression.


It was also a very educational experience being exposed to different filming techniques, working with a technical crew, hair and make-up etc et, things which we do not normally cover in our singing curriculum. It is also a very different world from theatre, which is where most of our singing training is focused on.


I am genuinely looking forward to see the final product and I am definitely excited to hopefully be part of the third opera in the series.


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