June 1, 2022 - By Lama Almugbell
Marco and Erica met with Award Winning Artistic Director Cameron Menzies and talked about his story and his work at the Northern Ireland Opera
In our new season of Humans of the World, our presenting duo went to Belfast, Northern Ireland and met with many wonderful humans. One of them is Northern Ireland Opera Artistic Director, Cameron Menzies.
Cameron Menzies is an Australian artistic director and he joined the Northern Ireland Opera in 2021 mid-way through the pandemic. Our presenting duo had the chance to sit down with him one day before his show debut in Belfast and get to know more about his story in a candid conversation on stage: When and how did he become an artistic director? Why did he join the Northern Ireland Opera?
“I know how actors and singers feel because I was in their place, that is why I became a director”- Cameron on why he became a director
Cameron Menzies started his artistic career when he was a teenager when he started acting and singing. “I did some shows and I thought this is what I would like to pursue,” Cameron told Marco and Erica. He then went to a singing teacher who identified something in him he did not know about himself.
He started as a countertenor but he didn’t know what it was called until later on. “I saw the light and thought I want to be a director,” Cameron said, explaining how he decided that he wanted to be a director. From Cameron’s point of view, he was able to become a director as he used what he learnt as a singer and an actor. Therefore, he had an understanding of what the singers are going through on the stage and how they have to prepare themselves.
Working with Northern Ireland Opera
Although Cameron started in musical theater, he sings Opera mostly.
What is interesting about how he joined the Northern Ireland Opera is that he was called to join them in the middle of the pandemic. “I am the artistic director of the company, which means that I run the company and I artistically create what we do as a company.” Cameron explained.
As an artistic director, Cameron wanted to do something in 2021 “I wanted to do a production that would bring Opera back to Belfast and Opera back to Live audiences,” – “in 19 months, we have not been able to do anything live,” he explained to Marco and Erica. While they have not been able to perform live, they have worked on other projects like films and YouTube videos.
With La Bohème, Cameron and the Northern Ireland Opera brought back to life the live performance after 19 long months. Undoubtedly, both of the rehearsals and the show had to go under COVID and social distancing rules. As Cameron said, they rehearsed with masks on for the entire time. For the audience, they are socially distanced in the auditorium.
Stay tuned for this episode of Humans of the World to discover more about how Cameron has chosen a Church that is iconic for Belfast and how it also reflects the french vibes of the Opera original setting.
Choosing Art over Law
Cameron, the artistic director who has loved singing and acting since he was a teenager, studied in Law school.
Cameron told Marco and Erica that he studied to be a lawyer for a while, but he could not do it. His heart was calling him to pursue art. He also told Marco and Erica how every artist has no choice when they become one. He explained how artists have different challenges on their way and each one of them gets through them to pursue what they feel is right.
Thank god he chose art over law! Cameron Menzies in fact is an award winning director who has directed different shows all around the world delighting audiences in multiple cities and countries, the most recent is Belfast, Northern Ireland where our presenting duo met him and where he has been at the helm of bringing Opera back to Belfast with his show debut La Bohème.
The Irish appetite for new things made Cameron work on musical shows and other extraordinary cinematic experiences
Cameron was called to work for the Northern Ireland Opera in March through the pandemic, when everything was shut down so he did not get the chance to discover Belfast right away. Luckily, things are now getting back to normal and Cameron had the chance to feel the vibe of Belfast.
“Now all is coming back to life, it is nice to bring live performance back” Cameron expressed how happy he is that life is going back to normal. “But what I like the most about Belfast, is that there is an appetite to get out, to see things and to try something new” he continued, commenting on what he likes about Belfast the most.
As life is coming back to Belfast and the Irish have the appetite for new things, Cameron did not only work on the first live performance after the pandemic. He worked on Irish songs and used them in their online content, and in addition to this he made a film entitled ‘Old Friends and Other Days’ where he took songs by Irish Composer William Wallace and his contemporary William Balfe to create a new and emotional cinematic experience that premiered at Belfast Film Festival this past 10th of November.
In this new season you’ll get an exclusive first taste of Cameron Menzies’s production of La Bohème, its extraordinary setting and discover other exciting things to see and do in Belfast!
We are sure you’ll love this interview because it is a genuine sneak peak into an emotional and empathic Cameron who brought to life a sensational version of La Bohème. Getting to know how much passion has been injected into this show right from the mind and soul behind will make you fall in love with this Director even more.
Cameron understands how singers feel on stage as he directs them, he deeply felt their emotions when they were rehearsing again after a long period of not being able to perform live, and he feels the emotions of each piece he chooses to bring on stage or on tape bringing up and nurturing extraordinary talents who live and breathe Opera.
Keep your eyes peeled on our new season of Human of the World’s episodes that kick started in Belfast, Northern Ireland and get ready to be inspired and dive deep into the stories that make Belfast and Northern Ireland a truly special place to live and visit.