Sunday, June 15, 2008


My first rehearsal for Traviata was today! It was partly cool and partly boring. A lot of it was like this:

See all those people by the wall? Standing there? Waiting? Doing nothing? Just... waiting? That's the chorus. All that tape on the floor? It showed the archways, the entrances, the edges of the stage and so on.

So I'm really telling this out of order. First thing is, the directions on where to park. They said to take a certain highway to a certain exit and then make a right turn onto a specific road. Well, since I live close to Princeton, I don't take the highway, so I knew I'd be on that certain exit road in the other direction and would therefore be turning left. Smarty pants that I am, I looked at a map and saw that the road named in the directions had a different name where it intersected with the exit road. When I got to it, guess what? It was one way coming out. Meaning, no matter which way I had approached I wouldn't have been able to turn onto that road. So I went on and made a left on the next main-ish looking street, and then sort of drayed around until I found the road listed. Great! Then... I went too far. Passed the parking lot and was approaching that intersection. Hmm... take another 10 minutes to loop around... or... drive in reverse? Yes, I was suddenly one of those people who drive in reverse the wrong way on a one-way street when they pass where they want to be. Luckily it was a lonely road. So after parking, I had to walk up a hill, turn left, go a few blocks, cross a street (one I had driven on, which you've probably figured out if you have a sense of direction) through an archway and into the music building. It's a good thing I made the choice to back up on the road or I would've been late.

So finally I get there and the first person I see is one of the meanie girls from last year! I also knew a bunch of the guys. So I plunked myself down in the corner and took out my notebook to take notes.

They started the rehearsal with some musical stuff. The maestro was, I think, the same man who took my picture with John Osborn at McCarter all those months ago. I think he recognized me too. So they went over the opening and it was great! He was calling out things like, "Piano! Piano! Staccato! StaccaTIssimo! Crescendo!!" Everyone followed his instructions and it sounded amazing. Finally, finally we started staging.

The opera opens with Violetta having some sort of painful illness attack, and then suddenly the chorus comes in for a party. The women are all high-class prostitutes - I think we'd say escorts. The director directed and they followed - also amazing. Then, finally, he stuck the supers in. He welcomed us and the chorus politely applauded. Our roles are as servants, serving drinks for a toast... and the song is that Sock Opera song. I kept envisioning those socks the whole time, and they did that scene about 10 times. That's a LOT of socks. So anyway there are four of us - including Rachel and Ken, who were monks with me last year. The other super is Kelly, who I met at the Rigoletto party before I met John. She was a super in that too. So we each go out to a different clump of partygoers with our trays of glasses. Everyone was really nice and funny, saying, "Grazie, Susan." When Kelly dropped the glasses on her tray, the woman who plays Violetta worked it into her line and sang, "She's fired tonight." Then any time anyone dropped a glass, they were "fired." Other than serve the drinks, we also come out later in the scene, cross upstage, exit simultaneously through three doors and the back, turn and close them.

It was fun to see how the staging evolved. The director just pointed at people: "You, you and you, over there. Then you two, when the music does this... move upstage to there... and as they do that, you and you, cross over to here..."

At one point the leads got the giggles but kept on singing. Why not, right? It was for staging, not for the music. But when they were singing it straight - WOW!! Their voices... so wonderful. The music vibrates through your entire body. Can someone remind me, please, why some people don't like opera?

There was no party - at the end I could hear people asking each other what they were doing until they had to return for La Cenerentola rehearsal.

I have to go back on Tuesday from 7-10. Hopefully that means I'll be in another scene. I can't imagine they'd need us to rehearse the drink serving and door closing again...

Other cool things - I pretty much understood most of the Italian... and I wanted to sing along with the chorus but obviously I didn't. I paid close attention to everyone's body and face while they were singing. One thing that stood out was the "dumb jaw," as my teacher calls it. They all had it - the relaxed jaw and big open mouth.

I just have to mention a couple of the women in the chorus. There are three platinum blondes! Two of them are beautiful - like barbie dolls. They both reminded me of Reece Witherspoon. They looked like Southern Belles, and they have very southern names. Of course I can't remember now. One might be Ashley. I'm not kidding. Don't worry, the others aren't Scarlett, Melanie or Tara. Yes I know Ashley was a man in GWTW but it's a girl name now. Don't ask me why. I know lots of things but I don't know that.

One bizarre thing that happened was, from my angle, I saw someone sitting in a chair and I could swear he had a huge humpback, arms that ended at the elbows and no legs. I was like, wow, how is he going to move around stage? But... it was all done with mirrors, or, in my case, bizarre angles and partial views. Normal guy, no physical deformities, all his limbs intact. If that doesn't prove I'm insane, well... let's not go there.


Carlos said...

Maybe the rehearsal was partly boring, but, believe me, your post about the rehearsal was not at all! ;)

I am still laughing ;)

I was wondering if the third platinum blonde is also reading the blog ;)

Carlos, still from Paris, ready to go back to Barcelona

Mandolin Vision said...

Very interesting - can't wait to hear more about your rehearsal experiences! Carlos is right - you do write brilliantly!

poltergeist said...

Great rehearsal review...and I also can't understand why there are people who don't like opera...and believe me, I try that everyone around me like it!

Susan said...

Carlos- I'm glad you enjoyed it! I'm curious, what made you laugh? Me driving backwards on the one-way street? That made me laugh when I was doing it. You can see one of the blondes sitting on the floor in the picture.

Mandolin V.- Thank you!

Polt- It's no use. If someone doesn't like opera, it's hard to convert them. You either "get" it or you don't... They don't know what they're missing!

poltergeist said...

At least I have made some of my friends listen to some arias or duets...and they always say: "I like it, those people have wonderful voices, but it's not my style."

Something that they always like it's the duet Au fond du temple saint from Les Pecheurs de perles. It's one of my favourites ;)

Lydia said...

I love rehearsals!!

I've also made some of my friends watch some YouTube opera clips and things like that. I can't even think of how many clips I made my roommate watch, and she would usually just laugh a little and say, "Oh, Lydia." The Hvorostovsky Converstion Program didn't bring her to the opera world. Sad day.

Anonymous said...

great report. I very much enjoyed it. This is the kind of stuff I should be reading now, to relax for Friday. MY BAC! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!



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