Our run of Virginia

December 13, 2010 at 12:19 am (Music) (, , , )

Done. FLUSHHH! That was the music going out of my brain.

Both performances of Mercadante’s Virginia have passed.

Opening night was pretty much a trainwreck.  Personally, I was on fire.  I knew my music, I had good ideas for my character, and I tore the stage up, especially my first scene, which is mostly just me: my aria and cabaletta, with some minimum dialogue with Marco.  Since I’m self-sufficient in the scene, and freshly optimistic since it’s the first scene of the opera and nothing had gone wrong yet, I had a lot of positive energy and really went all-out with it.

The second act is where things really got messy.  There is a lot of “scene” in the second act, ie a lot of each character saying one line here or there while the accompaniment plays music under us.  As opposed to, you know, an aria or a duet or an ensemble.  The thing is, these “scenes” are the hardest thing to learn when you don’t have enough rehearsals, because you have to worry so much about your entrances- when you say what, what line is next, where to find your next note.  Unfortunately, they are also the part that people spend the least time working on.  So things can really fall apart, especially if not many people in the ensemble really know the music, or if you have no conductor, or if the pianist isn’t strong in their part.

So, that’s basically what happened.  I had learned my part thoroughly, enough to stay on track even when other people didn’t sing their lines.  Largely because I knew we would be under-rehearsed, and honestly I was pretty sure not everyone would know all their entrances- or, they might know them, but not enough to get them even when the person before them missed their cue.  I had prepared for this.  But, I really only had a few lines in these scenes, so there wasn’t much I could do to help.  So yeah, there was a lot of everyone standing on stage looking at each other.

See, in theater, when you forget your line, there is some TORTUROUSLY uncomfortable silence, and either someone will look at you/give you a hint, or someone will improvise something, hopefully either paraphrasing your line for you or otherwise getting around it, maybe just skipping over it if it wasn’t important.

In opera, if you forget your line, the music keeps going.  Hopefully it doesn’t go long before someone figures out where they are and jumps back in with the singing.  In this case, it went quite a long time.  It was pretty awful, one time I was really convinced that Ralph was going to cut us off and just start the scene over, on-book.  But eventually we got to a part where everyone knew where we were and got back on track.  The day was saved!

The rest of the opera pretty much went better, but it was a trying day.  I needed a drink after that, but everyone was like, “next week, next week, I can’t tonight.”  I did talk the mezzo and, with much prodding, another soprano, into going to El Vez for margaritas and guac.  Then the mezzo was going to play in an open mic, so I went with.

It was really fun!  There was no “open mic drama” about too many people wanting to play, having to fight for a decent slot, only getting to play two songs.  Even though we got there late, the girl running it let me skip forward in the list so I could make my bus back to NY, and we were each allowed to play four freaking songs!  That’s a lot for an open mic, that’s like half the length of most of my sets in New York!  The audience was very responsive and I even sold a CD.  So that made up for the lousy opera performance.

Today was the second and last performance.  I’d say it went a lot better overall.  There were still people missing lines, but at least we knew what to expect.  I learned that, as the person who knew the score best, it was actually very useful to look intently (and in character) at people who were supposed to sing next so they felt assured that it was their turn.  (Some people in this cast are inexperienced, so that kind of hint can go a long way.)  In some of the big scenes, when people forgot lines, I would hum them just loud enough for the other cast members to hear- at least to help everyone know where in the music we were.  I know over-helping can be obnoxious, but I think in this case it was needed.

I definitely felt less energized today.  I guess that’s normal for a second performance.  Or maybe I was just jaded from the rough show last week.  I perked up a lot during my final duet with Icilio, that came out fierce.  The rest of it I was a lot less animated than last week.

Ralph did finally thank me.  I was a little peeved he didn’t say much after the first performance, but this time he specifically thanked me for coming in last minute.  So, OK. I still wish he would just give me better roles.  Every show I do for him I show up first rehearsal, off-book, sing circles around everyone, hold the scenes together- and he’s still never given me a better role than Frasquita (replacing another Frasquita).  Sigh.  Who wants to be booked to sing in a church basement for free three years from now, anyways.

Nobody wanted to go out after this performance.  I didn’t even really ask, everyone sort of bolted for the door.  LAME.

The perks: got to do my first pants role, which I think went well.  I did pretty decent man make-up, but no one got any pics!  I got to learn some really nice new music.  Yeah, I made fun of it, but there is some really nice stuff in there.  Got to meet some new people.  Sold a CD to the mezzo.  Made good impressions on people.  Now no longer have a gap on my resume for 2010.

Anyways, I’m glad it’s over, as my iPod is too full and now I can delete it and put something else on instead. :)

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