Of course the catch-22 is, the more you have to blog about, the less time you have to blog. I’m in Geneva, NY, on the Finger Lakes, sitting on the back patio to our dorm and enjoying a cool, sunny breeze off of Seneca Lake. In an hour or so I have to be at the theatre to prepare for opening night of The Impresario and Trial by Jury.
So here I am again with American Landmark Festivals. Remember, last year we did Fledermaus up here. Last year was a whole nother animal- I still had my blog on MySpace!
I know I haven’t blogged in awhile, and even if I gave you any pretails about this show they were probably spotty and a long time ago. So let’s back up.
First, there was all this drama because we didn’t know what opera we were doing. I was told Orpheus in the Underworld, and dumped a lot of money on recordings, DVDs, and a score. But 1. I was confused over what part I was supposed to do, because I thought I was doing Eurydice, but the other soprano I know from this company was told she was doing Eurydice, and then 2. They scrapped the whole plan and eventually settled on Mozart’s Impresario and Gilbert & Sullivan’s Trial by Jury, much to my dismay. I didn’t want to do Impresario because I’ve already done Madame Herz, and I didn’t want to do Trial by Jury because I’m sick of Gilbert and Sullivan. I tried to suggest Entfuehrung instead of Impresario but they thought it was too big or hard or something. So whatever, I’m still happy to do it because Madame Herz is a good role for me and the production I did of it last time was just this tiny thing with like one rehearsal, so I thought it would be nice to be in a big fully staged thing. And I love being up here in Geneva, and I love American Landmark Festivals, and I was- well, I THOUGHT I was going to have a slow year but you know how these things are, everything popping up.
I was sick for so long, remember, so I couldn’t even practice my music. I was actally quite relieved to find that my high F’s were back several solid weeks before rehearsals started- between the double-header cold that wouldn’t quit and forcing myself to squeak out Sorcerer all those times, my voice was pretty gone. I still don’t feel back to normal above a G, but then who really needs to sing above a G anyway? So I haven’t even really been trying, not when I need my voice for more important endevors.
There was some iffiness over whether or not the proposed Silberklang could be up here for the rehearsal schedule, so when the producer brought up replacing her, I mentioned my friend Sara Thomas, who would be perfect for the role (she is a soprano who sings coloratura stuff, but not the extreme coloratura stuff like I do- ie, an ideal Silberklang to my Mme Herz), and who I happened to know was free those two weeks. So I referred her for an audition and she got the part, and I was happy.
So a little under two weeks ago we drove up to Geneva (I love friends with cars) and I’ve been having just a wonderful time. I just love it up here. It’s a picturesque lake town and we stay in a big dorm with a glorious view. I love all the people I work with, I love walking the mile into town for coffee every day, I love going out for bar food with the gang every night, and I love singing in the fabulous Smith Opera House.
The first week I feel like we’re worked really hard, as far as opera goes. We have two really hard rehearsals a day, mostly full run-throughs until our time is up. I don’t mind the hard work but what trips me up is that it doesn’t leave us any time for individual practicing. I mean, as far as hours in the day, it does, but you really just don’t want to be singing that much, especially not working out technical vocal things, which can be trying. Yes, in theory, we should all have perfect technique and everything should be settled in our voices before we get here, but in practice, our voice boxes and our bodies are living, growing things, and there is always something needing adjustment. And then you get to rehearsal, with a conductor, with blocking, with other singers, in a new space, and you find things to which you need to change your approach. So that’s one thing I’d wish for.
Then I went home for two nights to start recording my album, but we’ll talk about that later. It was a big drama- whether or not I could leave, what bus I could take, who would drive me to the bus, etc etc. But it finally worked out- I was exhausted but that’s not an unfamiliar working condition to me.
Starting this week we’ve only had one rehearsal a day, so I actually got to practice. Thank God. Madame Herz is hard!!!! Even for an “extreme sports coloratura” like me. I mean, this is what i DO. But it’s still hard. There’s nowhere to breathe in the whole opera, ever! No, I’m exaggerating, but I do feel like Mozart was trying to kill someone. Death by Coloratura. Today I referred to it as a role with “High F’s and Other Problems.” Problem: long, complicated runs. Problem: extended lines with nowhere to breathe. Problem: Above-the-staff 8th notes that sound like chicken chirps if I’m not careful. Problem: catfighting so hard you run out of breath. Anything I can’t handle? Not at all!!! But I do need to work at it, be in top form- it’s the kind of thing I have to warm up for, and not be sick. I’ve even been trying not to eat much dairy, though that’s hard as a vegetarian subsisting on bar food.
So the dress rehearsal last night went great, and things have been steadily getting better. And now I have to go get ready. Talk to you later!!