Alma Deutscher: Finding Cinderella imagine...


Alma Deutscher: Finding Cinderella

Alan Yentob meets musical prodigy Alma Deutscher. Aged 11, she is staging her first full-length opera, Cinderella.


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PIANO INTRO

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VIOLIN AND PIANO CONTINUES THEN FADES

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SWING SQUEAKS

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MUSIC PLAYS - SOLO VIOLIN AND ORCHESTRA

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MUSIC CONTINUES

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SHE VOCALISES

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SHE VOCALISES

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SHE VOCALISES

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-RADIO:

-The time is now 24 minutes past eight.

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Alma Deutscher wrote her first opera at the age of seven.

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She wrote a violin concerto at nine.

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And this year, her full-length opera of Cinderella will be premiered

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in Vienna. She's just 11.

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I started playing the piano when I was two.

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And the violin when I was three.

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And actually, I started to compose when I was four.

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So, writing things down on paper.

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You just found that the music was coming to you?

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Yes. I didn't even know that it was called composing them.

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I'd just sit at the piano and play the ideas I had in my head.

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When you think of musical proteges, the names Mozart,

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Schubert and Mendelssohn come to mind.

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But here's another. Alma Deutscher.

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HE SPEAKS GERMAN

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SHE SINGS

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A very young classical composer in England is now living

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her very own fairy tale.

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Alma Deutscher began playing the piano

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when she was two and the violin a year later.

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And now she has written and composed her first opera

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at just 11 years of age.

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Who's that down there?

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That's my younger sister, Helen.

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Look at the little monkey.

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So, with Cinderella,

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it's really interesting, the way you've changed the story.

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You see, in my opera,

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I don't have a shoe because I think the shoe is a little bit silly.

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The Prince doesn't find Cinderella

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with the shoe, but he finds her with a melody. So, you see,

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now she isn't just a pretty girl who cleans and keeps quiet,

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she's actually clever and she's a composer.

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And the Prince is a poet, and so what happens is that,

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as part of the plot,

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Cinderella finds a poem that was written by the Prince.

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She doesn't know that the Prince wrote this poem.

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But she loves it.

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And she's inspired to put it to music.

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And so in the ball, she sings it to the Prince.

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But she doesn't know that he wrote the words,

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and he doesn't know that she wrote the music.

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And so it's all a bit of a muddle, but in the end they find each other,

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like lyrics finds music.

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PIANO PLAYS

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Alma's opera, Cinderella, has just begun rehearsals in Vienna.

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WOMAN SINGS IN GERMAN

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What do you think? Because they're really going to play, like everybody...

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HE HUMS A MELODY

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CONVERSATION IN GERMAN

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-Glad to see you.

-So am I!

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-Hello.

-Hello.

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-Nice to see you.

-Nice to see you.

-Good to see you.

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Um, from measure six.

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PIANO PLAYS, SINGING RESUMES

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Alma's progression as a composer has been carefully recorded

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by her father, Guy.

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So, this is Alma aged seven, in Berlin,

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waking up first thing in the morning

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with a melody that she had in her head and just playing it all.

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SHE SINGS

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So she's singing one of the singers and her right hand is playing

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the other singer.

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WOMAN SINGS A SIMILAR MELODY

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SINGER AND ORCHESTRA PLAY THE SAME MELODY

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You can hear this little girl on the piano with a...

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And then you hear this, this is what was in her mind.

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You know, it's almost bloodcurdling, isn't it,

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when the opera is so dramatic.

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And it doesn't maybe look it when a little girl gets up in the morning

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and plays something on the piano.

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But that's what she would have had in her mind.

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IN GERMAN:

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Ah, yeah. So, she was playing in a concert in the north of Israel,

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so this is a type of violin course

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and masterclasses and a concert in the end.

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And we had a very long car journey back home

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and the moment we came back home,

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she essentially ran to the piano,

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she very quickly wrote just a few bars of the beginning.

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ALMA SINGS

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And this turned into the main aria

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of the opera where Cinderella composes

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music to the Prince's words that she finds.

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SHE SINGS THE SAME MELODY, IN GERMAN

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You have all the text, that's good.

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OK, perfect.

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You've got the whole score in front of you?

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Oh, yes, of course, the whole orchestral score.

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And Helen is helping you?

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Yeah, Helen is turning the pages for me!

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Because, because, you see, because it's all the orchestra,

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I'm reading all the orchestra.

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There's much more pages to turn all the time.

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When they sing it, does it sound like when you practised it?

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Quite often it sounds, you know, even better,

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even than how I think about it.

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So especially, you know,

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the duet at the end between the Prince and Cinderella.

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I think that was amazing.

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You know, singing so beautifully together.

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-You want to have one of them?

-I don't like chocolate.

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You don't like chocolate!

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I don't understand that. Alma, please.

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I'll get you your own one.

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No, no, no, I'll get Alma her own one.

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Alma brings something new,

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and you can hear almost every composer, but in her own way.

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It's her own way of composing

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and I find it beautiful and really,

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I've never heard something like that before.

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-I thought about it more natural, as if you're, like, speaking.

-OK.

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So, you know, it's not artificial, it's natural.

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That's Alma.

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So, Guy, I want to ask you, is it true that Alma learnt to read music

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or understand music before she learnt to read?

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Yes, that's true, she could read music when she was three,

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or just shortly after that.

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But she didn't learn to read

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until she was...until, you know, four and a half.

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So, in this hat here, I have notes,

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if you could pick four notes from this hat.

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And then, I will improvise a piece based on the notes.

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All right, hand me that, then. I'll close my eyes.

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Yes, close your eyes.

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That's one.

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SHE SINGS THE NOTE

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SHE PLAYS THE NOTE ON THE PIANO

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Two.

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SHE SINGS THE NOTE

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SHE PLAYS THE NOTE

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Three.

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SHE SINGS THE SAME NOTE AS THE FIRST CHOICE

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SHE PLAYS THE NOTE

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Four.

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SHE SINGS THE NOTE

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SHE PLAYS THE NOTE

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Hmm, difficult!

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-Really?

-Yes. So I'll just take a minute to think it over.

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And then, barely 40 seconds later...

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Alma magically transformed those four random notes.

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SHE PLAYS THE FOUR NOTES

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SHE PLAYS A CONTINUOUS MELODY WITH ACCOMPANYING CHORDS

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SHE CHANGES KEY

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MELODY CONTINUES

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SHE DEVELOPS THE ORIGINAL THEME WITH A FASTER TEMPO

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SHE MODULATES TO A NEW THEME

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ORIGINAL THEME RETURNS

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PLAYING STOPS

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This started extremely early on, improvising these melodies,

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and she was around four, and in the beginning, we didn't understand.

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I remember sort of thinking, what is it she's playing,

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which tune is she trying to play?

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Because it didn't... It wasn't familiar.

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And at some stage I asked her, "Actually, what is it you're trying to play?"

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And she said, "No, no, no, it's my melody," you know,

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"it's something I hear in my head."

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It's rather fascinating, the way she's become attached

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to her skipping rope.

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Well, she got it for her birthday from her auntie.

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Before that, she used to wave various twigs and sticks around,

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and then she got that nice pink thing.

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And since then, she's never parted with it.

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I'm not a psychologist, so I don't know why it is,

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but it is a fact that she says,

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"I can't dream without my skipping rope."

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ALMA LAUGHS

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-That's good.

-Yeah, I think that's nice like that. A little bit.

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A little bit.

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And just something, for the King, if on where you started on bar 154,

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just try it if you just sung those two bars an octave lower.

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Well, Alma is really a force of nature, isn't she?

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I don't know that I've come across anyone

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of that age with quite such an astonishing range of gifts.

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Yes, and now sing it up. Once more.

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It's natural for her, it's play.

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And I think it was play

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for certain brilliant composers.

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Young composers like Mozart, like Korngold.

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These are very unusual people who have this.

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Is it "machen"? I don't understand.

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This is the infinitive.

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You have to turn it into...

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-VOICEOVER:

-She wanted to learn to read and we always promised her,

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well, soon you're going to school.

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And they'll teach you how to read and write.

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And then she went to the first induction day

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and she came back crying.

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And we asked, what's wrong?

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And she said, "You promised that they would teach me to read and write,

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"and they didn't teach me anything."

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And what do you think she's...

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"Wherefore art thou Romeo," what do you think she's sighing about?

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-Why are you Romeo? Why aren't you someone else?

-Yes.

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Why can't you be called Matthew?

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-Or John.

-Yes.

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Why aren't you a Capulet?

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Yes, why aren't you a Capulet?

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Wherefore art thou Romeo?

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The idea of home-schooling was not some pre-planned, ideological thing.

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I mean, it was an adaptation to her, essentially.

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Just says, "Oh, I don't like..."

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Oh, never mind. There are plenty of other environments.

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Exactly, exactly.

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She's not very interested,

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but he's been full of praises about Rosaline.

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Exactly. Because he says he sees other ones

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-but they're just like crows to his swan.

-Exactly, darling.

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And when he's in love with Rosaline...

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-She's pretty good.

-Yes, she's very good.

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What do you do, Helen, when Alma is here, composing?

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Do you leave her in peace, or do you play around?

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Well, sometimes I leave her.

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You'd better ask Alma that.

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I've got a tree climbing school

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which I teach her how to climb trees.

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And Helen goes every day to it.

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I have lots of climbing steps.

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And handstands.

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And handstands on the tree.

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And I've got five swings.

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The first one is called a padadicicha.

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-Guilerotom.

-Guilerotom.

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And then majotte, balonnaire and toudemonde,

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which is a flip in the tree.

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Helen is just learning toudemonde right now.

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INDISTINCT REPLY FROM HELEN

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Majotte, toudemonde,

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this list of made-up words was my first introduction

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to Alma's imaginary world,

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which began when she was very small.

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I was telling Alma stories about characters

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that I just had in my head.

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And I was feeding Helen at the same time.

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So, in order, in a way,

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that Helen didn't get all the attention

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from me, I would make sure that I told Alma stories.

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-While you were feeding her?

-While I was feeding Helen, in the evening.

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So that she would feel part of it, you know.

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So she was inspired by that, I think,

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and she wanted to make up her own stories.

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So she started talking about her country, Transylvanian,

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later she had another country, Golfen.

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These imaginary countries, countries which existed somewhere, but...?

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Exactly, like parallel worlds.

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And she was talking about this and I thought, well,

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I should write it down.

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So she would talk to me about it and I would write it down on a scrap

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piece of paper and then in the evening I just wrote up exactly what

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she said, without any editing or putting in full stops.

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So, here we are.

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-Aged four?

-Aged four.

0:23:430:23:45

Author of the tales of Transylvanian, Alma Deutscher.

0:23:450:23:48

-Yes.

-I love that, too, Transylvanian...

0:23:480:23:52

-Tongue.

-Tongue, that's the language, you see.

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Table, mudge.

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Chair, chack.

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Little chair, kantamish.

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Tree, zaka.

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Flower, zing.

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Toys, ruing.

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And she would remember these things.

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I mean, she also associates colours with notes.

0:24:050:24:07

And...

0:24:070:24:09

But it's consistent, she will remember the same...

0:24:090:24:11

And with letters of the alphabet, too. Certain letters. And it's always the same.

0:24:110:24:15

Nice, very nice.

0:24:150:24:16

Delotung.

0:24:160:24:17

Nice.

0:24:190:24:21

Majotte. You've been practising, obviously.

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That's the second swing of the dryads.

0:24:240:24:26

Majotte is the third swing of the dryads.

0:24:260:24:28

Nice.

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And balonaire is the fourth swing of the dryads.

0:24:290:24:33

-And it's in dryad language?

-Yes, dryads' language.

0:24:330:24:36

-Balonaire...

-You can't flop over.

0:24:370:24:39

Doesn't matter.

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Up.

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Go down as far as you can, try as far as you can.

0:24:420:24:45

Fluster is Alma's friend in Transylvanian.

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Aurelia is Fluster's daughter.

0:24:490:24:51

These are all imaginary names?

0:24:510:24:53

Absolutely. And the cast list has swelled!

0:24:530:24:56

I try to keep track of it as best I can.

0:24:560:25:00

-So, this is Shell?

-This is Shell.

0:25:020:25:03

She was a big character.

0:25:030:25:05

She was a powerful lady and a singer and a figure of glamour.

0:25:050:25:08

And Alma used to dress up as Shell, although don't tell her

0:25:080:25:10

that I said it was her dressing up, because she thinks it was Shell.

0:25:100:25:13

So Shell used to arrive in our house, I should say.

0:25:130:25:16

And we used to greet her

0:25:160:25:17

-and treat her with due courtesy and respect.

-Yes.

0:25:170:25:21

Her sort of heroines, or the people she's into, they're all women?

0:25:210:25:25

Yes. They are composers,

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they are women and they are glamorous and free

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and in charge and allowed to say whatever they want and...

0:25:300:25:35

do whatever they want!

0:25:350:25:36

And never have to pick up their socks or tidy

0:25:360:25:39

their room or anything like that.

0:25:390:25:41

And there are servants available?

0:25:410:25:42

Yes, exactly! It's that sort of operatic world.

0:25:420:25:45

So, a fairy tale world

0:25:450:25:48

and magic.

0:25:480:25:49

And I think music was part of that magic...

0:25:490:25:53

..because it was something that you could create out of nothing.

0:25:540:25:57

So, Antonin Yellowsink, he composes mainly in the romantic style,

0:26:010:26:06

more like Schubert and Tchaikovsky,

0:26:060:26:09

and...and Dvorak and those people.

0:26:090:26:13

But Ashley is more like Bach.

0:26:130:26:15

She composes fugues.

0:26:150:26:17

And Shell is very much like Mozart.

0:26:170:26:19

She writes sonatas like that.

0:26:190:26:21

And so does Flara, actually.

0:26:210:26:23

And Green Silver, she also writes more how I write,

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so, in between Mozart, Schubert,

0:26:300:26:32

that kind of styles.

0:26:320:26:35

You see, they each have their own, their own...

0:26:350:26:39

personality.

0:26:390:26:40

-This is Chaplona.

-This is Chaplona, the teacher.

0:26:480:26:51

You have to understand, the person who is playing is Alma.

0:26:510:26:55

The person who is speaking is the teacher.

0:26:550:26:58

Right. I've got it.

0:26:580:27:00

Did you hear?

0:27:020:27:04

And then she is talking to me, because the teacher is talking to

0:27:050:27:09

the father, telling him what to do.

0:27:090:27:12

-As a real teacher would sometimes do.

-Yeah.

0:27:120:27:15

Now, the semiquaver...

0:27:210:27:24

-This is the right way.

-And she's getting better.

0:27:270:27:29

So, not, actually, here is not too loud.

0:27:350:27:38

At the earlier periods,

0:27:390:27:40

it was incredibly important for her to believe that we really believed

0:27:400:27:46

that these are different characters

0:27:460:27:48

and she would get extremely upset at any sign

0:27:480:27:52

that anyone might doubt that, you know,

0:27:520:27:55

maybe this is actually Alma herself.

0:27:550:27:57

Hello, we're your guests.

0:27:580:27:59

Hello.

0:27:590:28:00

We tried always to go along with that imagination.

0:28:010:28:05

This is my daughter, Helen.

0:28:080:28:10

Helen...

0:28:100:28:12

We live with these people, they were part of our life.

0:28:120:28:14

And so... And we did go with it.

0:28:140:28:15

And she needed it as a way of coping

0:28:220:28:23

with life, I think. She really needed it.

0:28:230:28:25

Never did Antonin get tired of making his melodies even more beautiful.

0:28:320:28:36

Here is some sprightly music he composed.

0:28:360:28:39

It ends with a flourish.

0:28:390:28:41

SHE VOCALISES A MELODY

0:28:410:28:43

Now, Helen, you understand this.

0:28:490:28:51

Antonin loved experimenting and getting into mischief.

0:28:510:28:54

Actually, he was very mischievous when he composed.

0:28:550:28:58

He didn't care for the rules, much to Herr Zischab's surprise.

0:28:580:29:01

I also remember the time, she was just beginning to understand

0:29:050:29:08

about death and...

0:29:080:29:10

You know, there is a lot of talk in here about the underworld.

0:29:110:29:15

Because she understood death as the underworld.

0:29:150:29:17

There is a wonderful bit about Elizabeth Schwarzkopf,

0:29:170:29:20

who she knew was dead,

0:29:200:29:21

and she devised this idea that you can get a ticket back

0:29:210:29:25

from the underworld, to come back to life again.

0:29:250:29:28

-As if the imagination...

-Can take you there.

0:29:280:29:30

Can take you there and can take you out of it, as well!

0:29:300:29:33

Can get you out of it.

0:29:330:29:35

"Elizabeth Schwarzkopf lives in the dying place, the underworld.

0:29:350:29:40

"She has a ticket to come back here again.

0:29:400:29:42

"And if a ticket says no, then you don't come back again.

0:29:420:29:46

"And if it says yes, then you can come back again.

0:29:470:29:50

"You don't have to, but you can."

0:29:500:29:52

Gosh! Where did she get that from, though?

0:29:540:29:56

Did you talk to her about it, or was it just from books?

0:29:560:29:59

-What, death?

-Yeah.

-Well,

0:29:590:30:00

from books and family members suffering and dying.

0:30:000:30:07

So, she was aware of pain...

0:30:070:30:08

..and coping with it.

0:30:100:30:12

-Yeah.

-You know, just very difficult.

0:30:120:30:15

And if there was something scary or unpleasant,

0:30:150:30:17

she could absorb it into her world.

0:30:170:30:19

I mean, she could be very, very concentrated and fierce

0:30:190:30:24

when it was about her art and her work.

0:30:240:30:27

And in ordinary life, not at all.

0:30:270:30:29

So, she's very gentle and sweet-natured and good-hearted.

0:30:290:30:36

But when it came to her work, she absolutely knew what she wanted.

0:30:360:30:40

When you discover this imaginative life that she has got very early on,

0:30:430:30:48

-what did you think?

-I thought,

0:30:480:30:50

here's an imagination and the music and the words

0:30:500:30:53

are all part of the same imagination,

0:30:530:30:56

it's not a separate thing at all.

0:30:560:30:58

And I just wanted to give her...

0:30:580:31:00

just develop it and give her the space to...

0:31:000:31:03

and the freedom to develop it.

0:31:030:31:05

Because it was something that was so important to her,

0:31:050:31:08

it made her so happy, and I just felt that she...

0:31:080:31:10

she needed it at a very fundamental level.

0:31:100:31:13

CONDUCTOR VOCALISES THE RHYTHM

0:31:160:31:18

Drei...

0:31:230:31:24

-Perfect, danke.

-Very staccato.

0:31:260:31:29

The King is mocking the Prince

0:31:290:31:30

and almost mocking the orchestra, because he thinks

0:31:300:31:33

that you are siding with the Prince.

0:31:330:31:35

Recht. Drei...

0:31:350:31:36

Right, drei...

0:31:470:31:48

Perfect, OK.

0:31:570:31:58

And the bassoon has to play loudly, louder, otherwise you can't hear it.

0:31:580:32:03

Yes. Yes, yes, yes.

0:32:050:32:06

CONDUCTOR SPEAKS IN GERMAN

0:32:060:32:09

Just... Did the flute play this?

0:32:140:32:15

-Yeah, but he played really...

-You should be able to hear that.

0:32:150:32:19

James, 113.

0:32:190:32:22

-Also the clarinet.

-Yes.

0:32:220:32:23

-The clarinet played a little bit louder.

-Yes, OK.

0:32:230:32:26

HE SPEAKS IN GERMAN

0:32:260:32:28

Yes, OK. Danke, danke.

0:32:450:32:46

OK. Passe, passe.

0:32:480:32:50

OK.

0:32:500:32:51

Much better now, right? With the clarinet, and...

0:32:530:32:55

-Yes, yes.

-Perfect. All right.

0:32:550:32:57

-No, no, no. Start again.

-OK. It's all right, yes?

0:33:020:33:04

We're just going to stop again, yes?

0:33:040:33:06

All right. Once again.

0:33:060:33:07

No, no, no. It's...

0:33:130:33:15

Perfect, all right. Thank you, thank you.

0:33:150:33:17

Yes?

0:33:180:33:19

The bassoon is coming one bar too early.

0:33:200:33:23

-No, he's playing over here.

-Yeah, I know.

0:33:240:33:26

But he's not... This only comes on this bar.

0:33:260:33:29

He's playing...ta-ta-ta-ta-taa

0:33:290:33:31

already here, I think he is playing it wrong,

0:33:310:33:33

-in the wrong time.

-No, no, no, he was playing wrong?

0:33:330:33:36

-He was playing wrong.

-You mean this one?

0:33:360:33:39

-Yes.

-OK.

0:33:390:33:40

HE SPEAKS IN GERMAN

0:33:400:33:42

BASSOONIST REPLIES IN GERMAN

0:33:420:33:44

OK, yeah.

0:33:500:33:51

OK, direkt...

0:33:510:33:54

Drei, und...

0:33:550:33:56

Yeah, that's right.

0:34:010:34:02

Tempo.

0:34:090:34:10

OK, perfect.

0:34:140:34:15

HE SPEAKS IN GERMAN

0:34:150:34:16

ALMA SINGS IN GERMAN

0:34:200:34:21

CONDUCTOR SPEAKS IN GERMAN

0:34:340:34:35

And can...

0:34:390:34:41

I really want the horn to play quite a...TA-tum!

0:34:410:34:46

-Yes, of course.

-I couldn't really hear it.

0:34:460:34:48

Yes, yes, yes. Of course.

0:34:480:34:50

Yes, that's good!

0:34:540:34:56

So, thank you all very much.

0:34:570:34:59

We did a very good job on the first act.

0:34:590:35:02

-Bravo, Alma.

-Thank you very much.

0:35:020:35:04

Bravo to you, you played really nicely.

0:35:040:35:06

And I'll see you all tomorrow.

0:35:060:35:09

Danke!

0:35:130:35:15

That's the bassoonist who got such a grilling.

0:35:150:35:18

I wonder what he thought of it.

0:35:180:35:20

Alma in action.

0:35:210:35:23

You know, it's amazing.

0:35:230:35:24

She's 11 years old, she writes amazing music,

0:35:240:35:28

and she knows everything about the music, every single note.

0:35:280:35:32

It's...

0:35:330:35:34

I have no words for this.

0:35:340:35:36

It's outstanding.

0:35:370:35:38

We're not necessarily geographically close, but we're all in touch.

0:35:450:35:48

Yeah, yeah.

0:35:480:35:50

INDISTINCT CONVERSATION CONTINUES

0:35:500:35:53

How is your German now, Alma?

0:35:590:36:01

Well, I'm learning all the grammar now, so...

0:36:010:36:04

Ich bin nur ein Anfanger

0:36:050:36:08

aber ich verstehe ein bisschen.

0:36:080:36:12

I understand a bit.

0:36:120:36:13

You were pretty good with all of them.

0:36:130:36:16

-Thank you.

-Who is in charge, by the way?

0:36:170:36:19

Well, the conductor is really in charge.

0:36:190:36:22

But I was giving tips about musicality and interpretation

0:36:240:36:27

and tempo and things like that.

0:36:270:36:29

Hmm, I thought you were in charge.

0:36:300:36:32

THEY ALL LAUGH

0:36:320:36:33

Now, how much of this is actually hard work and how much of it is fun?

0:36:330:36:37

It's all hard work!

0:36:370:36:40

Can it be hard work and fun at the same time?

0:36:400:36:42

-Is that what it is?

-Well, you see...

0:36:420:36:44

First of all, the fun bit was really getting

0:36:440:36:47

a melody, getting inspiration.

0:36:470:36:49

I love that, that's not really the hard work.

0:36:490:36:51

That's the nice bit.

0:36:510:36:53

But the hard work is then making the modulations go

0:36:530:36:57

to the right place,

0:36:570:36:58

developing the melody, continuing it...

0:36:580:37:00

and all that.

0:37:000:37:02

And do you ever think to yourself,

0:37:020:37:05

is this a gift, where does it come from?

0:37:050:37:06

Why have you got this ability?

0:37:060:37:08

Well, it's a mystery, I don't even know if I can answer that myself,

0:37:100:37:15

how I get the melodies, the inspiration.

0:37:150:37:19

But just sometimes...

0:37:190:37:23

I have an inspiration in my head, it just pops into my head.

0:37:230:37:25

Sometimes I hear it being played by... being sung by a voice,

0:37:250:37:32

or it being played by an orchestra,

0:37:320:37:35

or sometimes I've got a melody just for two horns.

0:37:350:37:37

So, you see, I have this imaginary composer, in Transylvanian.

0:37:370:37:41

He's called Antonin Yellowsink and he composes

0:37:410:37:43

lots of beautiful melodies.

0:37:430:37:45

I've actually stolen quite a few of them for Cinderella.

0:37:450:37:50

Actually, one of the most important arias in Cinderella is

0:37:500:37:53

Antonin Yellowsink's melody.

0:37:530:37:54

The ballad, the sad aria that Cinderella sings

0:37:560:37:59

when the step-sisters and mother have gone to the ball

0:37:590:38:02

and left her behind is actually...

0:38:020:38:04

the melody is taken from Antonin Yellowsink.

0:38:040:38:06

But did you invent...? Go on.

0:38:060:38:08

I noticed that also you had this motif

0:38:080:38:10

and you actually gave it to him to develop.

0:38:100:38:13

Yes, exactly!

0:38:130:38:14

Oh, yeah. So you see, I also, I had a melody.

0:38:140:38:17

A beautiful melody.

0:38:170:38:19

So I showed it to Antonin

0:38:190:38:20

and Antonin made a whole beautiful new version

0:38:200:38:22

of it, really beautiful, which is now actually,

0:38:220:38:25

is the starting of the overture of Cinderella.

0:38:250:38:27

Right. And is there also a kind of...

0:38:270:38:30

That's quite a sad bit, the bit you're talking about?

0:38:300:38:33

-Yes.

-Is Antonin able to deal with sort of darker things?

0:38:330:38:36

Yes, exactly. Because, you see, I am a very happy person,

0:38:360:38:39

so it's a bit strange that I get these very sad melodies.

0:38:390:38:42

And I think maybe that's because Antonin Yellowsink

0:38:420:38:45

sometimes gets them and then I take them.

0:38:450:38:48

You said, "I don't like being compared to Mozart.

0:38:480:38:50

"If I was an old man with a beard, then people..."

0:38:500:38:54

-Yes!

-What made you say that?

0:38:540:38:55

What's wrong with old men with beards?

0:38:550:38:57

I'm an old man with a beard.

0:38:570:38:59

No, but I mean,

0:38:590:39:00

people like Brahms, who have been dead a long time ago,

0:39:000:39:03

they are old and fat.

0:39:030:39:05

And, you know, they are taken extremely seriously because of that.

0:39:050:39:09

Well, nobody really took a young girl very seriously.

0:39:090:39:13

Also, isn't there something behind you, your piano at home,

0:39:130:39:16

you've got a picture of a woman composer?

0:39:160:39:19

Yes. Nannerl, who is Mozart's sister.

0:39:190:39:21

Because, you see, she was also very talented at composing but she wasn't

0:39:210:39:25

allowed to compose because she was a girl.

0:39:250:39:27

So she couldn't publish any compositions under her own name,

0:39:270:39:31

she just had to stay at home and knit and cook and do the cleaning.

0:39:310:39:35

And is that why you defiantly decided that

0:39:350:39:38

your Cinderella wasn't just going to be a girl who fitted the shoe?

0:39:380:39:41

Yes, exactly. Because I didn't want Cinderella to be just another girl

0:39:410:39:45

who looked pretty and keeps quiet and cleaned the floor.

0:39:450:39:48

But I actually wanted her to be, you know, clever,

0:39:480:39:50

and I wanted her to be a composer.

0:39:500:39:52

And as I had this melody already there,

0:39:520:39:54

with this special, haunting chord,

0:39:540:39:56

I suddenly thought that this... the Prince could be haunted

0:39:560:39:58

by this chord but not remember how it continues.

0:39:580:40:01

But then he has a brainwave that he will search

0:40:010:40:04

everywhere in the kingdom and sing the beginning of it,

0:40:040:40:06

and only the girl who can finish it with the right haunting chord is

0:40:060:40:09

the one he is looking for.

0:40:090:40:10

-You have to do quite a long one.

-OK.

0:40:390:40:41

-Like you suddenly remember something.

-OK, OK.

0:40:460:40:48

Frightening, isn't it?

0:41:230:41:24

Have you checked, is there a chip somewhere, hidden?

0:41:240:41:27

An incredible talent.

0:41:270:41:29

These kind of things, you cannot teach anybody.

0:41:310:41:34

I think it's a talent, and it's manifested

0:41:340:41:37

in an 11 going on 12-year-old girl.

0:41:370:41:41

Ladies and gentlemen, can I introduce you... Alma, come here!

0:41:440:41:47

Can I introduce you to Alma Deutscher?

0:41:470:41:49

Now, tell us about the piece you are going to play.

0:41:510:41:55

Well, I'm going to play with this wonderful orchestra and with Gareth,

0:41:560:42:02

this wonderful conductor,

0:42:020:42:03

a movement of my own violin concerto

0:42:030:42:08

that I composed myself when I was nine.

0:42:080:42:11

APPLAUSE

0:42:110:42:14

Just imagine, Alan, you're playing your own composition.

0:42:170:42:20

I could never write a song and sing it.

0:42:200:42:23

She has a very natural instinct.

0:42:230:42:25

Who knows what the future will bring for her, but at the moment...

0:42:400:42:45

..life is her oyster, isn't it?

0:42:470:42:48

She can have anything for the future,

0:42:480:42:52

only if she takes care of it.

0:42:520:42:54

So, remember, Helen, on the end...

0:43:020:43:04

First time, you lead, is that it?

0:43:050:43:08

I want to go from, um...

0:43:080:43:10

Alma has written a piece for two violins, which she'll perform

0:43:100:43:15

with her sister, Helen.

0:43:150:43:17

There is a sense of phrasing which...

0:45:120:45:14

..many people two or three or four times her age would...

0:45:160:45:20

..would be lucky to have.

0:45:210:45:23

There is a sense...

0:45:230:45:25

I go back to it again,

0:45:250:45:27

this idea of what the tension and release is

0:45:270:45:30

and what the harmony does

0:45:300:45:32

that seems to be completely inborn to her.

0:45:320:45:35

This is not something you can teach.

0:45:350:45:37

And...I haven't really seen anything like it.

0:45:370:45:43

So, that's Nannerl Mozart?

0:46:070:46:09

Mozart's sister.

0:46:090:46:10

She was a bit like you two, she was...

0:46:110:46:14

she was what, sort of about 12 or something, and he was about eight?

0:46:140:46:17

Yes. She was his older sister.

0:46:170:46:19

And they went touring together, didn't they?

0:46:190:46:21

Exactly, when they were young, when they were children.

0:46:210:46:23

When she was a child, she was allowed to perform with Mozart.

0:46:230:46:26

But when she grew older, she wasn't allowed to any more,

0:46:260:46:29

and certainly not compose.

0:46:290:46:30

It's great that she is sitting behind you, not forgotten.

0:46:300:46:33

Exactly.

0:46:330:46:35

The whole family have decamped to Vienna

0:46:400:46:43

as rehearsals intensify and the first night looms.

0:46:430:46:47

Today's rehearsal is open to the press.

0:46:490:46:51

The legendary conductor Zubin Mehta is also coming.

0:46:570:47:00

-Hi.

-Hello!

-How are you, my love?

-I'm very well.

0:47:000:47:05

I'm very excited.

0:47:050:47:07

WOMAN SINGS IN GERMAN

0:47:070:47:09

Alma, I'm Katie. Very nice to meet you.

0:47:350:47:37

That sounded fantastic...

0:47:370:47:39

Well, I got...

0:47:420:47:44

I actually started it when I was eight and I was collecting

0:47:440:47:47

lots of material.

0:47:470:47:49

REPORTER SPEAKS IN GERMAN

0:47:490:47:51

I just get these melodies when I'm in...

0:47:550:47:57

called an improvising mood, I call it.

0:47:570:47:59

There were a lot of media there today.

0:48:090:48:11

How is she coping?

0:48:110:48:13

Well, it's... it certainly is intense.

0:48:130:48:17

More for Alma than for us because, you know, we just have to...

0:48:170:48:20

..stay in the background and let her do the speaking.

0:48:220:48:25

She doesn't terribly enjoy sitting and giving interviews as such.

0:48:270:48:31

But she is getting used to it.

0:48:310:48:33

But if she says, "I'm really too tired," then we won't do it.

0:48:330:48:36

And she knows that...

0:48:380:48:39

..well, essentially that is the way of making an opera known

0:48:410:48:46

to the world, so that's the real motivation.

0:48:460:48:49

She really wants her opera to be known and she wants it to be put on

0:48:490:48:53

in different places, so that's...

0:48:530:48:55

so that's the contribution of how to make it happen.

0:48:550:48:59

Crescendo.

0:49:070:49:08

There shouldn't be too much of a break to the...

0:49:170:49:20

between...tum and...

0:49:200:49:21

OK, OK. So not so much. OK.

0:49:230:49:25

HE SPEAKS IN GERMAN

0:49:250:49:27

-Danke, danke.

-Here, it wasn't together.

0:49:330:49:35

Yes, yes! So...

0:49:350:49:37

It's just the first violins and the second violins together.

0:49:480:49:51

It wasn't together.

0:49:510:49:53

HE SPEAKS IN GERMAN

0:49:530:49:55

I want the horn to be louder,

0:49:580:49:59

because no-one can really hear. That should be really loud.

0:49:590:50:02

And here...

0:50:020:50:04

I want the horn to play really forte, to be really clear.

0:50:060:50:09

It's extremely tiring now, because I'm working on everything.

0:50:140:50:16

I've got to listen to everything, the orchestra,

0:50:160:50:18

and whenever there is a mistake, you know, I have to correct it.

0:50:180:50:22

If the tempo is right, and listen to the singers as well.

0:50:220:50:26

So it's very tiring, but very exciting.

0:50:260:50:29

But I'm going to get it right, it's going to be a success.

0:50:290:50:31

Perfect. Sehr gut.

0:50:350:50:37

Check the oboe didn't come in twice, here and here.

0:50:400:50:43

Yeah, she just doubles...

0:50:430:50:44

-I get it now.

-And also here.

0:50:470:50:49

Yeah, yeah.

0:50:490:50:50

Yeah, you can't hear it.

0:51:030:51:04

Too soft, you can hardly hear it at all.

0:51:040:51:07

And...

0:51:070:51:08

-SIMON RATTLE:

-You don't have to be ten or 11 or 12 to be

0:51:120:51:17

an irritatingly exacting composer.

0:51:170:51:20

And it's interesting, she's come and listened to a lot of rehearsals and

0:51:220:51:26

she's also listened to what I've said to orchestras.

0:51:260:51:29

I'm sure she's gone to many other people's rehearsals and noticed,

0:51:290:51:33

"Oh, this made a real difference when you asked them to do that."

0:51:330:51:38

And so...

0:51:380:51:39

she's soaking it up like a sponge.

0:51:390:51:42

THEY SPEAK IN GERMAN

0:51:420:51:45

One of the things I most love is when a piece is being born

0:52:090:52:12

and you are hearing those sounds for the first time -

0:52:120:52:16

composer, conductor, players, this is a...

0:52:160:52:20

That's a holy moment.

0:52:200:52:22

Well, you know, I've heard it loads and loads of times in the rehearsals, of course.

0:52:360:52:40

But when it's on the stage and all the costumes

0:52:400:52:43

and they are all acting it, you know,

0:52:430:52:45

it really looks so, so real, so convincing.

0:52:450:52:48

You know, sometimes I forget and I almost think that it really is real.

0:52:480:52:52

Just put your fluffy boots on.

0:52:520:52:54

Gloves on. What about your violin?

0:52:580:53:00

I've got the violin.

0:53:010:53:03

What did you feel about an 11-year-old girl writing an opera?

0:53:200:53:23

You sort of stand in...

0:53:250:53:27

It's unbelievable. I mean, I can hardly put it together in my brain.

0:53:270:53:31

I cannot put it together.

0:53:310:53:32

It's something I've never experienced.

0:53:320:53:34

And also, I love the solution she found with, um ...

0:53:340:53:37

with the poem and the composition.

0:53:370:53:39

I think that is so...such a good development in the story.

0:53:390:53:43

It's extraordinary for a 12-year-old,

0:53:460:53:49

and yet she is capable of garnering some sort of...

0:53:490:53:53

some sort of core of emotions,

0:53:530:53:55

some sort of raw feeling in her music, which actually,

0:53:550:53:58

for someone with relatively little life experience,

0:53:580:54:01

you wouldn't think they would be able to do that.

0:54:010:54:04

-SIMON RATTLE:

-She's just at the beginning and she has a range

0:54:160:54:20

of gifts where she could do anything.

0:54:200:54:22

But it won't always flow so easily.

0:54:250:54:28

What experience does is to show you

0:54:310:54:34

just how difficult it is.

0:54:340:54:36

But we'll all be there for her when it gets hard,

0:54:410:54:45

and if it doesn't get hard, we'll be thrilled.

0:54:450:54:48

SINGING IN GERMAN:

0:54:490:54:51

It's amazing that after all this, you know, preparation,

0:56:000:56:04

essentially a whole year,

0:56:040:56:05

suddenly all this thing that Alma had in her mind,

0:56:050:56:09

now I can actually hear it.

0:56:090:56:11

APPLAUSE

0:58:540:58:56

CHEERING

0:58:570:58:59

-Thank you very much.

-Is it possible to make a photo?

0:59:270:59:29

Yeah.

0:59:290:59:31

Amazing, you did absolutely amazing.

0:59:330:59:36

Fantastic.

0:59:360:59:37

I watched it many times, but it was even nicer.

0:59:390:59:42

Thank you.

0:59:420:59:43

Oh, look at the picture.

0:59:520:59:54

"At the end of the evening,

0:59:550:59:56

"the little girl in the red dress received a standing ovation

0:59:560:59:59

"and hearty cries of 'Bravo!' rang out across the hall."

0:59:591:00:03

-That sounds like one of your...

-I know!

-..one of your biographies...

1:00:031:00:06

-I know.

-..biographies of Antonin.

-I know.

1:00:061:00:10

"Cinderella is a fairy tale with a happy ending.

1:00:111:00:15

"Deutscher's own fairy tale, you sense, is just beginning."

1:00:151:00:19

Terrific, darling.

1:00:201:00:21

Last summer, the sisters paid a visit to Mozart's childhood home

1:00:381:00:43

and played Alma's music on the young Mozart's violins.

1:00:431:00:47

Unlike Mozart's sister Nannerl, no-one is holding Alma back.

1:00:491:00:54

Alan Yentob meets musical prodigy Alma Deutscher. Aged 11, she is staging her first full-length opera, Cinderella. Composer, pianist, violinist... Alma learned to read music before she could read words. She began playing the piano aged two and at four years old she was composing her own music.

From a tree house in Dorking to an opera house in Vienna, imagine... spends time with Alma at work and at play. In the months leading up to the premiere of her opera in Vienna, we discover the inspiration and motivation behind a truly remarkable talent.