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Visit to The Royal Opera House


12th October 2023


In advance of our eagerly anticipated visit to the Royal Opera House, eleven of us met for supper at Cote, Covent Garden, and enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with each other’s news over a delicious meal. Rachelle then guided us to the Royal Opera House, just a short walk away. En route to our seats in the Clore Studio, we were fortunate enough to hear snatches from that evening’s performance of Rigoletto being streamed, and glimpsed examples of posters, costumes and headpieces from previous programmes.


This special event was entitled “Underscoring the Royal Opera House”, presented by Ian Skelly, with Kate Shipway and

Susanna (Susie) Stranders comparing and contrasting their respective roles of “playing the piano” there. What an understatement that is!  We had no idea of the diverse range of skills they needed to bring to their performances.

Indeed, Susanna thinks of herself as an orchestra with ten fingers, the notes of the piano substituting for the instruments.


Kate works for the Royal Ballet Company; Susanna for the Royal Opera House ~ two companies under the one roof.

Kate explained the many facets of her role working with choreographers, dancers, conductors and musicians. In a similar vein, Susanna works with conductors, orchestras and singers and gave us an insight into the preparations involved prior to rehearsals and performances.

To end our evening, we were privileged to hear Kate and Susanna play a duet together, Dolly Suite – Berceuse (Faure), for the first time.

Both Kate and Susanna said it was a privilege to work for their respective companies; from our perspective, it was a privilege to hear them in conversation.

Many thanks to Rachelle for securing tickets for such an interesting talk ~ a wonderful way to end her year of Office.


Susan Brennan

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