Fleur Snow: From Freshers’ Musical to main scale opera

30 June 2022

This Season we welcomed Fleur Snow, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff Directing Fellow to the creative team of Migrations. We sat down with her to find out more about her creative development.

‘I started learning the piano age 4, and the first pieces I played were arrangements of famous arias and Overtures and the first opera I remember seeing was Opera Della Luna’s HMS Pinafore which toured to Cardigan in the early 2000s. My parents bought me the DVD on the way home, and I watched it so much I think I wore it out!

While an organ scholar at Oxford, I was asked to take charge of the jokingly prestigious Freshers’ Musical. After having produced, co-written, designed and directed a Lord of the Rings adaptation set to ABBA Gold, then Les Milibandles a year later and finally The Sound of Brexit, I was hooked on putting music, words and action together.

I decided to continue my studies at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff and as part of the course, we had the opportunity to engage with Welsh National Opera. We were invited to observe rehearsals, attend dress rehearsals, and then I was brought on board via the Director Placement. With no family background or prior professional training in the theatre world, the knowledge and confidence given to me first through the teaching at the College and then in practice at WNO has been crucial in continuing to follow the dream. Another important aspect of my time at WNO has been the chance to meet more fellow Welsh-speaking opera creatives, from singers and dramaturgs to stage managers and marketers.

I feel extremely lucky to have worked on Migrations. The nature of the show meant we were often working in multiple rehearsal rooms at once, each with their own directorial style. From the swiftness of Sir David Pountney’s expertly honed vision to the gritty conversations with Madeleine Kludje, exploration with Abdul Shayek and the detail in Melody Squire’s work, it was a privilege to be in the room and part of so many different conversations.

My main mentor throughout the process, however, was Sarah Crisp, who did an unbelievable job of keeping such a big machine moving. The role of staff director is not always easy, especially in a production with so many moving parts. Sarah’s gift for the Tetris that is scheduling, as well as her organisation and forward thinking, have taught me a lot and I will definitely be borrowing her techniques when I come back as her assistant for Migrations in the Autumn.

Migrations is an epic spectacle with laughter, beauty and thrills within, but it also takes a very hard look at stories that are rarely told on the operatic stage, that are colossally sad in their scale and implications. Even after six weeks of working on the opera every day, I am still coming across new questions, and it is a piece that I think will haunt me as I head into new projects.

If I didn’t follow a career in music, I think my secret other life would be as a detective. The required skills are surprisingly like directing – leading your team, following the clues left either by criminals or by the composer/ librettist, maintaining a rigorous process where no detail is left out and being able to work very long hours!