Thursday, September 6, 2012

Production notebook: launching Dutchman rehearsals

There is a palpable energy present whenever creative artists share the same space and collaborate. It is the energy that makes a concerto such an exciting form of concert music. It is present in the intimate varieties of chamber music. It is the essence of what a "dynamic duo" is and it's there whenever two great actors, singers or performers share a duet or a scene.

When you have an entire ensemble generating this creative energy it is thrilling. We experience this literal buzz anew every time we assemble an opera cast and kick off rehearsals with a musical "read" of the score.

Here's a picture of that first music rehearsal for The Flying Dutchman 48 hours ago at Steven White's house in Copper Hill. Matthew Curran, Ryan Kinsella and Julia Rolwing (Daland, the Norwegian captain; The Dutchman; and Senta, Daland's daughter, respectively) are singing through a scene, while Taylor Baldwin plays a piano that formerly belonged to the Metropolitan opera. Our stage director, Crystal Manich is seated on the couch, with score and notebook open as she hears her cast sing through this wonderful score for the first time.

Steven joked that the music read is where we "audition for one another" and "prove to each other that we know what we're doing." It is an excellent opportunity to dive right into the work that is the lifeblood of the performer's life. As much as we all love the stage and the performances, a poll of almost any group of performing artists would find the rehearsal process is as beloved as any aspect of the art.

I feel a literal volt of electricity at the start of each rehearsal process, whether I'm singing, conducting or simply observing from the sidelines. The amazing depth of what musicians produce with sound never ceases to be astonishing. This is especially true when one's body is one's instrument. Opera singers - the true "American Idols" who "got talent" in spades - embody this dynamic of musical energy in an individual way. I feel privileged to work alongside such incredibly talented colleagues.

I can't wait for our audience to hear this fantastic cast of young singers - all singing their respective Wagner roles for the very first time (and a couple of our singers are debuting not only their roles but are singing Wagner's one-of-a-kind music for the first time). This makes for an even more vibrant and electric energy.

Here is a photo from our first staging rehearsal in the Jefferson Center yesterday afternoon. Rebecca from the Roanoke Times is shooting our title character, played by Ryan Kinsella, as he and Crystal and Steven discuss his Shakespearean monologue of an opening aria, Die Frist ist um.

I'll return with more production images and thoughts both on The Flying Dutchman in general and our exciting new production as we literally bring it to life over the next couple of weeks.

There are plenty of opportunities to connect with Opera Roanoke between now and opening night, September 21st. We hope to see you at the Opera soon!

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