Joanna Foote reports on her toulouse experience
Posted on 19 December 2013
When Joanna Foote, armed with a grant from the Foundation, recently attended the inaugural Academy of French Song and Opera held in the French city of Toulouse she wasn’t sure what to fully expect. It turned out to be a great week which she described in a recent letter to the Foundation……. ‘I knew that Florence Daguerre de Heurea was an inspiring and thorough French coach, Caroline Dowdle was a wonderful teacher and mentor and Jean-Paul Pruna a wonderful pianist and coach. On this occasion they formed the perfect team to lead this inaugural 7-day French Academy. Though I have had good french coaching in the past, I was hoping to come away with an even better command and understanding of how french language works in song and opera, and especially get a better ear for the rhythm of the language, so I may confidently do my own work. I also wanted to come away with some solid new repertoire. All of which happened. Most of the work was spent reciting the text throughout the week. This is work I’ve always enjoyed, so I had great fun bringing the characters of the songs to life through declamation in classes and public masterclasses - bringing even more colour and character to the songs. Even since leaving the course 3 weeks ago, I still find myself without even thinking
reciting the text on tubes and buses or anywhere around London. Florence not only worked on the text, but also shared her complete enthusiasm and knowledge of the composers and poets. Her energy is contagious, and all these people were so brought to life. I’m now obsessed even more than I was, and hoping to put together a french themed recital in the not too distant future. A big emphasis was on bringing these works and the poetry to life in your own unique and individual way. Caroline emphasised this in her music sessions as well. There was a public masterclass half way through the week. Local people kept talking to me in French after hearing my declamations - insisting I know and speak the language (though I unfortunately don’t very well). A final concert was held at the end of the week, in the venue’s converted barn which is now their concert hall. It was full and the audience were very happy.
I thank the Foundation again for its’ vital financial assistance in making my attendance possible.’