“I honestly wanted to learn about every aspect of putting on and producing a concert. From contracts to ticketing, right through to the design and finale, I’ve never had a chance to be involved in every single aspect of a performance until now. That’s been a huge thing to achieve for me, bigger than the ticket sales alone.”
“Playing violin is not something I live with; it’s something I can’t live without!”
The Wild Swans at the Sydney Opera House
What originally started as a fairytale story by Hans Christian Andersen in 1838 has now evolved into a stunning ballet. Published in Andersen’s first instalment of Fairy Tales Told for Children, the Wild Swans is a famous tale that has been adapted to various media since its birth; including ballet, television and animated film.
Returning in July 2015 to the Opera House in a highly dramatic and haunting re-arrangement of the original music, the Wild Swans ballet performance has been re-imagined by Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin, violinist Victoria Jacono-Gilmovich and pianist John Martin to provide a dazzling backdrop to Andersen’s breathtaking story.
Adapted for the stage by the Wild Swans director, Rodney Fisher AM and narrated by the much-loved Australian actress Amanda Muggleton – star of Master Class, Shirley Valentine, Prisoner and The Book Club, the Wild Swans story has been transferred into a stage show like you’ve never seen it before.
The evocative and spine-tingling Wild Swans music was written by Elena Kats-Chernin and staged by the Australian Ballet at the Sydney Opera House in 2003, choreographed by Meryl Tankard. Later, as an orchestral suite, the music was recorded.
This new performance, which opens at the Utzon Room on July 19th, will be an exciting, poignant and unforgettable experience for audiences young and old.
In the lead up to this much anticipated show, I was lucky enough to have a chat with Wild Swans producer and violinist, Victoria. Discussing about all things music, her dream to produce such a high profile show and what this beautiful production really involves; here’s an exclusive ‘behind the scenes’ with the Wild Swans producer herself.
Q+A with Victoria Jacono-Gilmovich, Wild Swans Producer and Violinist
1. It’s a big dream to have, wanting to produce your own show at the Sydney Opera House! When did you first realise you wanted to do it?
For years I had been playing at the opera house, but always in a group under someone else’s direction. I guess I wanted to be the one to start a production from scratch myself one day. I wanted a performance to be led by my hard work and decisions, rather than just being a contractor to someone else. I always knew that there would be risks involved if I produced it, but I wanted to feel that for myself rather than always playing it safe working under someone else.
2. Have you produced any other shows previously?
Yes, I regularly put on concerts in different places with various colleagues and themes – but never at the Sydney Opera House.
3. What age did your music career start and what do you love most about playing?
I started playing music when I was 6 – the violin, and have barely had a day off music since! I know it sounds cliché, but I love that I can express myself without having to say a word. One musical phase has so many different options, emotions and colours – I love that variety and freedom.
4. How would you describe your relationship with music in one sentence?
Playing violin is not something I live with; it’s something I can’t live without!
5. Can you tell us, in your own words, what the show Wild Swans is about?
Wild Swans tells the story of the sadly neglected princess, Elise, and her lonely search for her eleven brothers who have been driven into exile by their spiteful stepmother. Rescued by eleven magnificent white swans and carried across storm-tossed seas, Elise’s adventures grow even more magical and mysterious, building to an enthralling climax at then end.
6. You’ve worked alongside some talented artists to get the show up and running; Amanda Muggleton, John Martin and Rodney Fisher what have you learnt from them and what’s the atmosphere like working together?
We’ve all come from such different backgrounds, both as people and as artists. We’ve had to work together to navigate through all our different ideas for the performance, some which have been easily agreed upon and others that needed a lot more negotiation.
I can honestly say that without the huge input of every one of us, this production wouldn’t have happened and wouldn’t be the way it is today – I think it’s perfect, but there’s no way any one of us could have done this without the other three.
“I’m pretty excited about the venture and working behind the scenes promoting and creating the show myself, it’s been such a joy.
It’s also been a struggle whilst balancing two young children, a business and running a household – but I almost get a kick out of knowing I’ve bitten off more than I can chew and it’s still working out ok!”
7. What’s been the lowest and highest points of producing your own show?
The biggest challenge for me has been about battling my impatience with getting the ball rolling – getting tickets sold quicker, sorting out all the replies to emails etc. I think I’m generally an impatient person and this has certainly proved to be a low point for me whilst producing the show.
On the flip side, the highest point was the first tickets selling on the first day the Wild Swans show went online. That’s when it all started to feel real – and it was amazing!
8. How have you juggled being a mum, running a business and producing such a high profile show?
Juggling is the key word and sometimes you just have to drop a ball in order to keep the others up in the air. But I’m ok with that, sometimes I Just have to put the kids in front of Dora the Explorer with a bowl of cereal for dinner because there’s other things that need my immediate attention. And other times, I won’t go near my laptop or answer my phone for days because my kids need me more. You just learn to prioritise, sleep less and take things on as they come. You can pretty much throw a strict schedule or plan out the window and just play things by ear!
9. What piece of advice would you give to anyone wanting to produce his or her own dance or music show?
Do your research – then dream! Do some more research, and then jump into it when you’re ready. It’ll never feel like the right time but with enough information and a little confidence in yourself, you can feel a bit safer to take the risk and just do it!
10. What inspired you to take on this leap and follow your dream, rather than just sitting back and ‘dreaming’?
I’ve been wanting to do this for so long, but last year when we performed at the Wild Swans to a packed house for ABC Radio as part of their Sunday Live Programs, I decided that if I did take this leap, it would be with the Wild Swans.
11. Is there anything you would change or do differently if you were to go back and do it all again?
Probably not – it’s all part of the experience. Having said that though, this is my first time so I’m yet to see whether things are being done right or wrong!
12. The creative process behind producing the Wild Swans must’ve been huge, what was the biggest thing you wanted to get out of this show from a personal point of view?
I honestly wanted to learn about every aspect of putting on and producing a concert. From contracts to ticketing, right through to the design and finale, I’ve never had a chance to be involved in every single aspect of a performance until now. That alone has been a huge thing to achieve for me, bigger than the ticket sales alone.
13. What can the audience expect from the Wild Swans show?
To be swept away by Elena Kats-Chernin’s beautiful music paired together with a magical Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. The audience won’t even realise they’re listening to a story and music that were composed in different centuries by two very different people, because it all just melts together perfectly.
14. What would you like your audience at the Sydney Opera House to take away from this performance?
A feeling of being transported to another time and another place, a feeling that fairy tales and magic still exist, and the feeling of a concert format that is pretty unique to anything else that’s out there.
15. What’s next in store for you? More shows?
Absolutely! We have already started work on the next one, but I can’t give away any details just yet!
Want to see the Wild Swans in Action?
You can find all event details here.
There will only be two Wild Swans performances at the Sydney Opera House (Sunday 19th July at 3pm and at 6pm), so make sure you get in quick! Tickets are $40 for adults and $25 for children under 12. Group and concession discounts are also available.
Want to Win Some Freebies?
Thanks to the Wild Swans, I have 5 CDs to give away! The first 5 people to comment on this post with “I want a free CD!” will be the lucky winners.
The CD’s are a collection of works by Australian composers including pianist John Martin and violinist Victoria Jacono-Gilmovich, giving you a little taste on the musical flavours to be expected for the Wild Swans performance.
Please note, you must have an Australian postal address to enter. When commenting, please provide your email address on the form (don’t worry, this won’t show up to the public), so I can contact you directly for your postal address.