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.