Day 30 - Tuesday
It's the final straight, dress rehearsals and then we start the shows with Lillian Alling on Thursday. This morning we work on notes for the LA chorus scenes, in the afternoon Kelly restages our barn dance (just to add some fresh adrenaline to tonight's dress). Late afternoon sees the singers and supers gradually passing through hair & make up and start the nervous pacing in the dressing rooms and war zone. To solve my hair's tendency to rebel against styling I am made to wear clips in it for an hour before stage time, and to avoid the clips making marks I get a stylish buffer of tissues. This harks back to my supermodel adventure on Day 5. Ah, those were the days...
Like 2 supermodels before a fashion show
The Lillian Alling dress rehearsal goes reasonably well, though not without stress and hiccups on stage and off. I myself lose half my beard during the Norwegian scene, almost sending our leading lady into fits of laughter. Never trust tape, from now on it's glue for me (which is a shame, because it's disgusting stuff). I also get muddled during a costume change and miss an offstage chorus entrance (literally by a single beat!). Apart from that the run was a study of how colleagues deal with the mounting stress, and once again I'm left in awe of Melanie Krueger, whose Lillian is vocally superb every single time without fail and with no audible marking.
Day 31 - Wednesday
We are in for a treat this morning: Judith's husband, Graham Forst (a classics professor), gives a lecture on Da Ponte's collaborations with Mozart, showing how they bent the structure of comedy to herald the coming age of romanticism. The lecture is informative, engaging and above all hilarious. There's nothing like watching an inspiring lecturer, not a beat skipped, waking the audience to attention with perfectly timed jokes, and this all flowing more from personality than preparation (I may of course be wrong on this, but that would be in a way even more impressive). We leave the room with smiles on our faces and the worst jokes stuck in our heads ('So from the start of the opera we are in denial... and we're not even in Egypt.' OK, so maybe you had to have been there), and I like to think some useful information about the structure of comedy and how it works (asexual trickster servants facilitating the overcoming of the blocking character and the inevitable feast and wedding at the end reinforcing the importance of the structures society builds to protect us from our human flaws... or something like that).
We then have notes with Kelly in the afternoon, where he says that calling last night's dress 'verage' would only be slightly harsh. There's another level to bring it to, that much is sure, and apart from the usual notes (words, cut offs, cues, blocking) there are two pearls of wisdom:
- when receiving 'physical' notes, make sure to run them before the show to get them into your body, otherwise even if you remember the note, your body will betray you
- communicate thoughts, not feelings
The second sounds like a slogan, but often gets forgotten when singing, because as musicians we are prone to channelling the mood (which is usually the orchestra's job), but as actors our job is not to reinforce mood, but to tell the story. I'm not sure whether the risk is greater when singing in a foreign language (where the temptation is to fall back on the music and just convey a vague idea what it is we are actually saying, filling the void with 'feeling') or in ones native tongue (where we assume the audience will understand our every word and 'get it' without us having to work too hard). Maybe it's time to reconcile with Stanislavski?
Is there a butler convention in town?
This evening it's time for the Cosi fan tutte dress rehearsal. Again it is a study in stress management and warm-up habits. Other than that it goes quite well for a rehearsal, though because of the limited involvement we have as chorus, my impression may not be the best informed.
Together for the first time, 2 timeless symbols: the Apple logo... and the Soviet Star