Opera North Blog

Chris Bradley, Percussion Section Principal, Orchestra of Opera North

Three percussion players playing over 40 percussion instruments in The Adventures of Pinocchio. Along with my colleagues on piano/celesta, harp, mandolin & accordions we form a unique sound that is at the heart of the orchestration. It is both fun and challenging to play the percussion parts as they are so well written and suit the instruments. The story is about a boy made of wood, so as you can imagine a lot of the instruments we play are made of wood. But Jonathan Dove includes many other resonant percussion instruments and uses their sounds to colour the themes of the characters in the story. Listen out for the xylophone representing Pinocchio; the guiro & claves for the Cricket; the glockenspiel, vibraphone, marc tree for the Blue Fairy; and also, with the addition of a triangle, the five gold coins and the trip to the Field of Miracles; and there are many effects for the Pigeon! Family and friends that have seen the show rave to me about the set, the costumes and the characters in the story, as though I know what they’re taking about! I’m in the pit under the stage so can’t see anything happening above. I’ve seen clips on the internet and I’ve seen some of the costumes worn by the members of the chorus but that’s about it, although I did have a cup of tea with the Pigeon last week! Because The Adventures of Pinocchio is the first opera of the Autumn Season we, the percussionists, have been able to leave our instruments set up in the pit. This has its advantages as we can turn up for the performances at the same time as the rest of the orchestra. Normally, with the help of my colleagues and the pit attendants, we have to take all the equipment out of the pit ready to set the next show. Some of the instruments that are used in the other operas this season can be left but it takes at least 30 minutes before and after the show to re-set. To buy tickets and for more information, photos, video and reviews of The Adventures of Pinocchio please visit www.operanorth.co.uk/events/adventures-of-pinocchio/

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