Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A new stage

Monday night I started rehearsals. It's wonderful to be back on a stage again, but even in this I am starting a brand new adventure: I am in the chorus of an opera. (Verd*s L@ Tr@viat@ for those who care... I don't want anyone to google our local production and find me, therefore, lots of weird symbols. Sorry.) I have never been an opera fan. I consider myself an ACTRESS who can carry a tune. I'm not really a SINGER. I only do musicals rarely. It has been over 3 years since I've sang in another language or in any group that required me to learn anything other than the melody. Yet this summer I did a general audition for a theatre, and the artistic director asked me how my Italian was. I told him it was non existent. Yet somehow he still offered me a part in this opera. I decided there was something to be learned from this, both theatrically and vocally, and decided to make the leap. I am a wee bit petrified about all of this.

I've been listening to the recording for well over a month now, I watched a videotaped performance, and last week I sat down with the score to try to start learning my part so that I wouldn't make a total fool of myself at the first rehearsal. Instead, I became so frustrated I nearly cried. Italian? Not only do I not know what it means (they do provide you with a vague translation, but it's a translation that is designed to be sung with the music, so it's not word for word or even phrase for phrase, it's sort of "vague idea and fits with the timing") but I can't pronounce it. So I'm trying to learn the alto part and read a language that causes me to stumble. I can't look at the words, try to pronounce them, pick out my notes on the piano, and sing all at the same time. OK, I think, I will listen to the recording for the pronunciation, and then I will come back and sing it with the piano. Can I impress upon you how quickly they sing? I hear something like this "blah blah blah bio blah chay blah bio". I throw up my hands in frustration and decide that I will just have to figure it out at the first rehearsal.

At rehearsal it becomes clear that I am a bit out of my league. Everyone around me is talking about their voice lessons and the choirs that they are a part of. A good number of them raise their hands to say they've done an opera before. I can only wonder what I am doing there.

However, our choir master's enthusiasm is contagious. Just watching her lead us with such great energy and an obvious love of the music is infectious. There is nothing like working for someone who LOVES what they are doing. She is positive and kind. I have managed to sit myself next to fabulous singers who help to carry me through the rough spots. After two rehearsals I am getting better at hearing my part and pronouncing the Italian (although there are still parts that I sort of slur my way through... how do they fit all of those consonants in?!?) I am, frankly, doing better than I feared. And there is something freeing about being the weakest person in the room - because there is only one way to go, and that is up. Hopefully.

30 comments:

Susanne said...

Oh dear. And oh yaay too. You'll be doing great in no time. And I tell you a secret: even people who know how to speak Italian don't know how to sing it because with all the consonants words that are two or syllables when spoken become one syllable when sung. So the slurring is exactly the right thing to do.

(And which opera do you rehearse? And maybe you could find someone who wants to practice the part with you?)

And nobody understands opera singers anyway.

crazymumma said...

Bella!

Sing your heart out....anyway to post it? A recording of your voice I mean?

carrie said...

Just the thought of performming on stage (even in front of preschoolers) gives me high anxiety!

You, you will be brilliant!

niobe said...

You make this sound like so much fun. I so wish that I could see your performance. It's so unfair that you live soooo far away. (Or maybe I'm the one who lives sooo far away, but, in any case, the end result is the same.)

Rimarama said...

Oh, that sounds like so much fun! I can only imagine how hard it must be to learn the alto line in another language. Is there any way you could obtain a recording of just the alto line? I'm in an amateur choir, and whenever we start learning a difficult piece, our director always provides us with a recording of just our part, but she plunks it out on the piano herself. Maybe you could look into it on a choral website or something.

You are going to do great! You got cast for a reason, you know! Keep us posted, please :)

flutter said...

I am so proud and jealous!

nomotherearth said...

My singing teacher was always trying to get me to do Opera, so I know EXACTLY what you mean when you talk about trying to read the words and the music, and just keep up.

I always say, though "What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger." It's good to feel like a fish out of water sometimes - it will make your other acting stronger. And you can show those Opera Junkies how to ACT for once. Good for you!

Sober Briquette said...

I can relate to the Italian part of it. My husband's father was from Italy, so my husband has a bit of Italian. Whenever we go somewhere where they speak Italian, the people understand him. However, when I go to these places myself and try to make myself understood, they just frown at me, shake their heads, say "NO!" and correct my pronunciation. I swear, it's the same as his.

ewe are here said...

I had a good friend from University who sang Opera. Amazing stuff.

Any way to get the music/lyrics spelled out phonetically? It might help... although I'm convinced you'll do just great!

Magpie said...

That sounds like fun!

Lots of luck.

Victoria said...

That sounds absolutely amazing! And fun! And nerve-wracking! LOL!

slouching mom said...

You're right -- nowhere to go but up...that is freeing.

And...I love "wee bit petrified"; heh.

Beck said...

That's so brave of you - and I'm sure that you'll be amazing at it in no time at all.

Christine said...

that sounds SCARY!

but good for you for sticking it out. i bet you are doing better than youa re giving yourself credit for.

Furrow said...

That's fabulous! It's incredibly scary stepping out of your comfort zone, but I bet you'll love it and learn lots.

Julie Pippert said...

How exciting!

I can imagine it seeming a bit daunting, but also possibly (knowing the theater just a little) people can also shine themselves up to cover their own worries and insecurities and, as a bit of technique, to threaten the competition a bit (sometimes).

It sounds great, especially the choir master. I know you'll be great. :)

Julie
Using My Words

Heidi Hyde said...

Oh, I'm so jealous! I miss the singing, I miss the chorus, I wish we had these opportunities here! Good luck to you-- although it doesn't sound like you'll need it!

-HH

Stacy Michelle said...

i'm so so so so sorry to post this, but...silly me...all i could think about as i read about your italian issues was "masimo the luuurve god, the italian stallion."

okay, and now for seriousness...this sounds amazing. i know you can do it! i wish i was...erm...in the same *country*...i'd totally come see you.

you'll be fabbity fab fab.

:)

thailandchani said...

I think it's great that you are involved again at any level.. and hope you will focus on the sheer joy of doing it. :)

You'll do fine.. with time...


Peace,

~Chani
http://thailandgal.blogspot.com

soccer mom in denial said...

Brava mia cara! Bravissima!

I studied Italian in college. Wish I could help you out. But you'll be terrifico.

Alley Cat said...

You are brave! I think I would shrink away in the face of such a challenge.

Hey Teach! said...

good luck and more power to you...the idea of performing in front of anyone is beyond me...

aimee / greeblemonkey said...

You're gonna rock da house! Go get em!!!

aimee / greeblemonkey said...

OK, and I typed that BEFORE I saw the BlogHer ad. Weird.

amanda said...

I am in awe and so completely jealous... Tr@viatta is one of my favorites- enjoy yourself and get lost in the tale.....

Mad Hatter said...

Hey, that's fabulous that you're getting back on stage. Keep us posted.

Wayfarer Scientista said...

yay for you!!!

WorksForMom said...

A singer? Wow, why am I not suprised.

Amy York said...

How fantastic! Have fun with your new venture... :)

Flower Child said...

As a member of the chorus you'll have the best seat in the house - for one of the best operas you'll ever hear. Nothing like a woman with consumption madly in love with a man to bring out some wonderful music.