We’ve worked with a lot of musicians over the years and they are all unique shoots. But US-born mezzo Tamara Gura and her accompanist Adrian Kelly were particularly memorable both for their approach to performance and to the filming process itself.
London audiences will have last seen Tamara in Christopher Alden’s dramatic and sometimes disturbing staging of Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream at English National Opera in May 2011. She has an incredibly deep and rich mezzo colour which worked perfectly in this acoustic and Adrian brought real sensitivity and thought to his accompaniment.
What made the day such a gift was that they arrived to make a film, not to record some arias and an interview. There is nothing wrong with the latter but they wanted this to be a creative statement on who they are as musicians, not just a document of Tamara’s voice. This small shift in emphasis gave every conversation a whole new perspective. We talked about space and how to move in it. We stopped worrying about creating the perfect conditions for recording audio in favour of discovering the most honest and personal interpretation, regardless of where the microphones were placed. Tamara wasn’t in a studio. In all respects she was onstage. We just happened to be the sole audience members that day.
The whole session became about finding that perfect ‘moment’ where all the various elements of music, interpretation, performance and movement came together for the cameras. We’re writing this a few days after the shoot and just before we get started on piecing together the footage. The film could go in a hundred directions at this stage. We just need to keep an open mind, try new ideas and make sure that when you hit play you see and hear something that captures the essence of Tamara and her performing identity.