This week we have finally begun staging for L@ Tr@viat@ (I do all those crazy symbols so that someone doing a google search for our local production won't come up with this blog. Hopefully) Monday we had our first rehearsals with our principals (so far we've just been meeting as a chorus) and when I first heard the tenor sing, 2 words in the midst of us singing, I nearly fell to the floor. He is amazing. His voice just fills the whole auditorium, and when he sings you can hear it echo off the back wall. With no microphones. THAT is singing. I just want to lay down on the floor and listen to him sing. But instead I have to try to remember my notes. In Italian.
Our tenor, our baritone, and our director have been flown in from Italy. This makes me more than a wee bit nervous about my awful pronunciation. As if worrying about hitting the right note was not enough stress in my life.
The staging, however, is fun, and the combination of the lights, and the amazing talent, and the energy of creative people on a stage is invigorating. The director speaks mostly Italian, and others translate for him. Sometimes. Sometimes we are left to try to figure out exactly what he means. He is very expressive, and uses his hands a lot, and so if you pay attention you can get the general gist of most of it. At one point when he was showing me where to stand (by snapping and pointing, apparently this is a universal sign) he paused, looked at me and said "How do you understand Italian?" I repeated "How do I understand Italian?" (to make sure I had it right) and he nodded and I said,very simply "I don't" There was much general laughter. But I took it as a compliment, that I am paying attention enough that I can figure out what is going on. The same can not be said for everyone.
I have always thought that being in the chorus is a hard and often thankless job. Harder than having a lead, in fact. For me, acting wise, there is very little worse than having to fake a conversation with some other chorus person while the real action happens elsewhere. Not for vain reasons, nor for a want to be the center of attention, but for the want of DIRECTION. Give me a character and some lines, and a wee bit of background and I will tell you what my character wants and her relationship to everyone in the play and how she goes about achieving her goals, etc, etc, etc. But tell me "you're a partygoer" and make me fend for myself, while mouthing words to someone who is equally as lost as I am, and frequently far more disinterested, and it's not much fun. Then try to carry on a fake conversation in something that looks like Italian in the late 1800s. It's not easy. But I'm trying. Hard. Yesterday our lead soprano complimented me, saying I was so "cute" and that it was really fun to watch me because I had expression while everyone else was just singing with a bored look on their face. So maybe all those years at acting school have paid off.
This has been truly a learning experience, which is what I knew it would be when I signed up for it. I don't think that I will ever do an opera again. I have enjoyed this, although I find it much less satisfying than a play, and it is very time consuming for something I am not passionate about while not getting me much closer to my own career goals. But fascinating it has been, and I have a much deeper appreciation for a style of music I was, before this, nearly ignorant of. And I am hitting notes I have never hit in my whole life. And I have my first stage kiss with a girl. But that's another post.
**REMINDER FOR MONDAY MISSION** Monday's Mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write a post in the style of a News Article