Wednesday, August 30, 2006
After a celebration with my colleagues on Sunday night, I went home to pack, and left for Union at 5:30 a.m. (yikes!) on Monday morning. Since then, we've been going full steam with rehearsals and final preparations for the concerts, which begin tonight (though my first performance isn't until Friday). Overall, I'm extremely impressed with how the festival is being run. The level of musicianship is extremely high all-around, and we're being very well taken care of. (I'll post pictures as soon as I have time to take some!)
Last night, the choir had a rehearsal for our final concert (a memorial concert on September 11th). The rehearsal was held at the local high school auditorium, and was open to the public. It was a brilliant idea on the part of the administrators. For the festival, it was great free publicity. There are 2 or 3 of these open rehearsals this week, and apparently ticket sales have gone through the roof as a result, which is fantastic. For the people who came, it was a chance to see the work in progress (we've hardly rehearsed this concert at all, so it was really still in progress!), and there was a question and answer period and a chance for a meet-and-greet afterward, which was lovely. In addition, each of the open rehearsals are benefitting a different non-profit in the community. Last night, Mason County Literacy was there, and they collected donations and had sign-up sheets for volunteers. So, it was great for the community as well. The community seems to be very involved in the festival -- in fact, 100% of the funding for the festival came from residents of Union and the surrounding area. Amazing.
When I have time to think about it, I have lots of applications to fill out for audition season this year, but I need a couple days to settle in to a routine here before I dig in. Now, off to dinner and tonight's concert....
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Nutrice is another story entirely. This is the role I will be playing in the full production of Poppea next February, so I was excited to get to work. The initial reaction from Stephen was that the role was too low for me, and he was right. The entirety of the role never goes above an a in the staff, and we're performing at A=415 this week (a full half-step lower than A=440, the modern accepted pitch). My scene happens with my queen, Ottavia, just after her gorgeous lament, "Disprezzata regina...". Stephen came up with a brilliant solution -- all of my lines have been transposed up a 5th, which puts the whole role in a great range for me and still works with Ottavia's part. This is one of the last scenes to be staged, and we had our first music and staging rehearsals on it today. After our initial run-through, Stephen asked if I would be willing to try it in more of a character voice. Of course I was willing to try, though I've never really done anything like that before, and I wasn't sure if I could. Apparently I can! I opened my mouth, and out came this nasal, cackling sound. Suddenly, the scene (which I had struggled a little with dramatically) made perfect sense to me, and judging by the reactions of the instrumentalists in the room, I think it was a success! The staging is equally fun, and I'm really looking forward to it.
In the third scene I play Dido, the widowed, mourning queen of Carthage. I'm falling in love with Aeneas, a handsome Trojan prince, much to the delight of of my friend and confidante Belinda and my ladies in waiting. I'm resisting my own feelings, out of grief and fidelity for my dead husband. A gorgeous lament, and I've been having so much fun playing her this week.
Whew! I'm exhausted just writing about it. I have this afternoon and evening off, so I'm off to take a quick nap, do a little editing work, and spend the evening with my husband and a few friends. Tomorrow, it's back to final rehearsals before the performances this weekend, and then off to Union for two weeks of choral concerts. It will feel like a vacation, I think, after this week!
Sunday, August 20, 2006
I feel so lucky to be working again this week with Stephen Stubbs, who is completely brilliant at seeing the unification of music and text, and how they highlight each other, each raising the other to a new level. Truly a master teacher and musician.
Interesting things are happening this year. I've already been offered a gig for next spring -- a role in Caccini's Ruggiero with the Northwest Puppet Center (acb recently talked about how fun this was -- I'm really excited to be involved!) Also, my role in Poppea might be changing somewhat, but more on that as details are solidified....
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
at no time are the players of my instruments to be unaware that they are onstage, in the act. There can be no humdrum playing of notes, in the bored belief that because they are "good" musicians their performance is ipso facto "masterly." When a player fails to take full advantage of his role in a visual or acting sense, he is muffing his part - in my terms - as thoroughly as if he bungled
every note in the score.
To John Cage: I believe in many things: in an intonation as just as I am capable of making it, in musical instruments on stage, dynamic in form, visually exciting. I believe in dramatic lighting, replete with gels, to enhance them; in musicians who are total constituents of the moment, irreplaceable, who may sing, shout, whistle, stamp their feet; in players who are in costume, perhaps half-naked, or with fantastic headpieces, but certainly in some visual form that will remove them from the limbo of the pedestrian.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Oh! The rest of the weekend! On Saturday night, I was surprised by a night in a fancy hotel in downtown Seattle, and an evening at Jazz Alley to see Ahmad Jamal, followed by brunch and Pike Place Market on Sunday morning. Aaaahhhhh..... :)
Now, I have a couple days off from rehearsals to learn the opening scene from Dido and Aeneas and a scene from Poppea for the Baroque Opera workshop next week. Fun!
Thursday, August 3, 2006
Tuesday, August 1, 2006
I decided on four arias – Nicklausse’s violin aria from Hoffmann, der Komponist, “Dopo Notte” from Handel’s Ariodante, and “Things Change, Jo” from Little Women. No Mozart, I know. Right now, it’s just not what feels best for me, and Handel is a good substitute for most purposes. For orchestral/oratorio stuff, I have a good recording of the B Minor Mass I did in June, and I recorded “Es ist vollbracht” from the St. John Passion and one of the Wesendoncklieder. I also recorded a few art songs, including one from Ravel’s Histoires Naturelles and one from Britten’s A Charm of Lullabies. It’s enough variety to cover everything I want to apply to this year, and a good mix of things to send to conductors. My grandparents will enjoy it, as well…. :) I’ve already sent out copies in various forms for a few competitions and a possible gig next season – I’ll keep everyone posted as details arise.
The next step is to figure out how to post some samples on my website – I’m working on it, and I’ll post a link here when I have it all done. I have plenty to keep me busy in the meantime, though – 4 full concerts of American choral pieces to learn in the next week, as well as the Dido scenes for the Baroque opera workshop and Nicklausse.