Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
More on the Man and the Plan later.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Here are some random reasons why I loved being a super with them this summer:
Puppy Love - Someone brought a puppy to the ice-cream social on Friday. It was sooooooooo cute. The puppy's family includes small children, which explains why it followed Alex around everywhere and tried to play with him, much to the disappointment of all the women who wanted to scoop the pup up and ooh and ahhh over her. No matter where Alex went, this adorable puppy followed him.
Gummy Love - What is it with opera singers and gummy bears/worms/whatever? Both last year and this year the gummies were a big big hit.
Prop Love - After I lost my tray of glasses on opening night, the prop people organized a solution. Four of them each held a tray out for us, and then one of them held that curtain aside so we could get through without mishap. Thanks prop people!
Prop Love part 2 - In Act 2 scene 2 I brought the poker table on, came offstage, grabbed a tray of brandy snifters and went back on. The bed for the next scene was blocking the way off stage, so the prop person there very wisely put the two trays on the bed so she could hand them off as soon as we got there. Thanks prop person!
Book Love - Along with the gummies, I brought to the green room a couple of Bizarro books and a cute cartoon book called Unpleasant Ways to Die. They are perfect bathroom books. In fact, I took them from a basket in my bathroom. I didn't advertise that though...
Book Love part 2- Jimmy gave me that awesome book at a gift. It has operas in it that I've never heard of, and some that I've heard the title of only but knew nothing about. I love it! Thanks, Jimmy!
Listening Love - I loved listening to Michael, Liz, Andy and the others sing. Thanks, talented people, for sharing your talent!
Costume Love - Umm... the guys all looked great in their tuxedos. The women's dresses made them look like princesses. No comment on the checkered dress I had to wear- not much love there.
Pen Love? - The opera company gave gifts to everyone. The singers got a directory of opera houses, theaters, agents and so on, with contact and other pertinent information. The supers got... a pen. How's this for karma? Mine was broken. Hey, thanks for the ... broken pen? I later took it apart to perform some pen surgery, so it sort of works now. It's the type of pen that you twist to get the point to come out. The point on my pen comes out about a millimeter, so the casing scrapes on the paper when I try to write with it. Well it's the thought that counts, and the note was nice. (Yes, I smeared out my last name and the name of the opera company, in case you're wondering.)
Not sure if this last one qualifies as Backstage Love. Love Lost might be a better category. This is Clog Guy. Although I never wrote about him here other than that post, he totally ignored (dare I say, snubbed?) me after the Blog Incident. Makes me sad since the Incident had absolutely nothing to do with him. But he was a nice guy who always made me laugh until then, so the picture goes in. The Backstage Love was there when the picture was taken.
Other Random Backstage:
Photo temporarlily removed to protect the innocent.
Nooooo, I'm just kidding! It's me and (anon) ! Yup, the same (anon) who posts comments here on my blog! Wheeeeeee!
Saturday, July 26, 2008
I said a general goodbye as I left the dressing room but I don't think anyone heard me. Everyone is zonked-out tired beyond belief from their boot-camp schedule and as I type this they're all BACK at the theater for a performance of Merry Widow.
But on to the fun stuff - I left the dressing room and trotted upstairs to meet Jimmy! Anyone who's been reading my blog and the accompanying comments knows that he is a regular commenter here. We first "met" on YouTube, of all places, when he commented on the Magic Flute videos I posted. Turns out his brother was one of the dancers. Go ahead, read the comments here. Wow they're from a year ago! So anyhoo we eventually connected on one of the popular social networking sites and today we connected in person. Although he almost didn't make it in - he had purchased a ticket in advance and it was allegedly waiting for him, but when he got there they had no record, although no doubt they charged his credit card. So the woman at the ticket desk said, "Sorry kid, you're out of luck, it's sold out," or something like that. I'm sure he'll add a comment to this post with the exact line, but I do recall he said she used the word "kid." So he was sitting in the lobby wondering what to do when one of the opera company Head Honchos came out, saw him there and told the ticket person to give him a standing room ticket. Whew. So he didn't see Alfredo put the flower down, or Violetta wake up on the table and look around, but he made it in by the time we were setting the table.
It was so much fun to meet in person! We got along instantly just like we do online. There was no weirdness at all. He gave me this really cool book - The Opera Lover's Companion. It's perfect - it has lists of operas with a little background about how each came to be written and then a synopsis. I was totally surprised that he got me a gift.
So then we watched Act 3 and I cried my eyes out. Silently of course. I thought of it as Opera Therapy. When Violetta pleads with God not to take her so young when her life is just beginning I pretty much lost it. I mean that part always makes me weepy but in light of recent events it pushed me over the edge and I had to really struggle not to sob audibly. OH and OF COURSE... As soon as the singing began, a woman seated below us very slowly unwrapped a cough drop or hard candy or something... oh so slowly... and then of course slowly folded it up. WHY WHY WHY???? She had all of intermission to unwrap an entire package of hard candies - why did she wait until people were singing????? Ahem rant over.
After it ended I brought him downstairs and we bumped into Liz (Violetta) as she was headed down to the dressing rooms, so he got to meet her. I had never seen her in the "sick and dying" makeup up close. It was creepy. The makeup people are really good - she had yellow makeup on all around her eyes - she really looked sallow and ill. Well, not completely - her eyes were bright and happy with the excitement of the performance so there was this contradiction - sickly complexion with healthy bright eyes.
We went into downtown to meet Husband and Alex for dinner, then I walked Jimmy back to the train station. Jimmy, I know you read the blog - feel free to comment with any corrections and additions.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Viola, still kittenish, peeking out from under a quilt. Also 2003:
Diego with his ears backwards. Taken half an hour ago:
Off topic ... Some strange beer Husband was drinking today. Yes, that says Porkslap. Yes, those are pigs bumping their bellies:
Not as entertaining as Porkslap, but worth a mention:
I'm sure these won't seem so silly tomorrow when I'm sober. But how can I say no to mojitos made with mint from our very own garden? (meaning, we don't garden and the mint has taken over the spot where the prior owners used to garden about 10 years ago.)
Of course I'm interpreting all this from my own serious mood - my friend's loss first and foremost on my mind - the funeral was this morning - and then this tiny seed of paranoia that was planted when I received the complaint and threat to be cut off from the company based on what I wrote in my blog. I'm totally insane - I'm very aware of the insanity - yet I can't help thinking, "Is he/she avoiding me? Avoiding eye contact? Being barely civil?" Yes, the paranoia has set in. I have this bad fantasy going that as soon as the production is over I'm going to be informed that my volunteerism is no longer needed. But looking back over my blog, I see no posts that would precipitate that. Other than a few insecure posts about the singer/super relationship last year, most of my blog says how great the company is and how talented everyone is. Otherwise it's my voice lessons and my silly and embarrassing fan posts. I'd volunteer to do more for them if I didn't feel so weird about everything right now.
Oh yeah and then there's the tracker - It tells me what cities people are accessing the blog from. And even though it's not always very accurate, don't think that doesn't feed my paranoia.
You know part of this must stem from the fact that I haven't had a voice lesson in over a month. I miss my weekly psychology sessions that the lessons have become.
That, and I probably need some serious anti-anxiety meds.
Ah well. As my mom friends and I keep telling each other on our online message boards, this too shall pass. And as Ma Ingalls always said, "Least said, soonest mended," (#68, if you follow that link) so I'm keeping my mouth shut. And I guess my keyboard too from now on. (only about this subject, don't worry!)
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Last week I borrowed a "Best of the Muppet Show" video from the library. One episode on it is when Gilda Radner was the guest star, and she sang a medley from Pirates of Penzance with a 7 foot tall talking carrot. (She had requested a parrot but you know how these things are.)
It's very funny. Alex just loved it and now he wants to hear what we now call "The Carrot Song," over and over. "I am the very model of a modern major vegetable." Of course I don't have that version, but I do have a G&S Greatest Hits type of CD (that's not what it's called...) and of course that's on it. I've printed out the lyrics and am trying to learn them. And of course I'm also teaching myself "Poor Wandering One." Why not, right?
I'm also very fond of the "I've got a little list" from The Mikado. My mother and I used to sing that one together when I was a kid. Later on when I read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the part where they trick the useless third of the population (basically, the people mentioned in the G&S song), into believing that they had to evacuate the planet and that everyone else would soon follow in another spaceship, reminded me immediately of the song. And if you look at the lyrics, they're still relevant today.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
One of my friends lost her 2 1/2 year old son yesterday in a tragic accident. Her 4 year old daughter was playing T-Ball (that's like baseball, but with the ball on a stand instead of being pitched). She swung the bat and accidentally hit her brother in the chest. His heart went into arrhythmia and they couldn't save him.
I'm crying as I type this. My heart is breaking for my friend and her family.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
I've even worn them to the theater... on performance days. They don't go on stage or into the house with me. But they like hanging out in the dressing room with the other shoes while I'm doing my non-spilling thing in the character shoes.
Opera, opera... let's see. Alex asked to hear Papageno's Birdcatcher Song in German about 5 times in a row today while he spun in circles until he fell. Kind of explains the toilet paper incident I reported yesterday.
Then he did the Sempre Libera Alien Noodle Dance. Charming, no? Welcome to my life.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Word of the Day
Monday July 21, 2008
supernumerary \soo-puhr-NOO-muh-rair-ee; -NYOO-\, adjective:
1. Exceeding the stated, standard, or prescribed number.
2. Exceeding what is necessary or desired; superfluous.
1. A supernumerary person or thing.
2. An actor without a speaking part, as a walk-on or an extra in a crowd scene.
The Justice Department contractor, the Biogenics Corporation, of Houston, studied blood samples from thirty-six residents and concluded that eight of the people had a rare aberration it called "supernumerary acentric fragments," or extra pieces of genetic material.
-- Michael H. Brown, "A Toxic Ghost Town", The Atlantic, July 1989
Momart is where private collections are put out to pasture, where works that are too big, too precious, too fragile or simply supernumerary to their owners' homes are discreetly tended by expert staff.
-- Laura Cumming, "What the Sensationalists did next", The Observer, April 23, 2000
And yet, important as its role has been in the history of civilization, the bookshelf seldom even gets mentioned in the program; it is treated as a supernumerary, taken for granted, and ignored.
-- Henry Petroski, The Book on the Bookshelf
Sweetums, the Swiss chef and many others serve principally as supernumeraries in the picture's extravagant production numbers.
-- Rita Kempley, "Seeworthy Muppets", Washington Post, February 16, 1995
Supernumerary is from Latin supernumerarius, from super, "over" + numerus, "number."
Of course, the fact that after finishing that paragraph, I walked into the bathroom to find Alex with his pants off, totally wrapped up in an entire roll of toilet paper, like a mummy, does lighten my mood a little. "I was just wiping my hands," he said innocently. Uh huh.
And then, "I love you mommy. And I like you a LOT too."
Damn. What was I sad about again?
Ok, let's put something operaish in. Ok, here, look at this.
(Please ignore the name of the opera company mentioned. My blog has nothing to do with them.)
But I am sad not to be going. Tonight is a Duet and Ensembles thing. One of the duets is Dunque Io Son, from Barber of Seville - one of my favorites. I so want to see the particular singers perform it tonight. I want to see/hear everyone do their solo/duet thing. The concert was amazing last year. Actually I went the year before, too, before I was a super, before I had this blog.
One day I'll get that "preview" review up here...
Sunday, July 20, 2008
What you can't see in the picture is that it has PINK FRINGE around the elastic edge! Tres chic, no?
Dear la Traviata Supers
My son and I saw la Traviata Saturday evening and really enjoyed your performances. I'm impressed at how you all gracefully navigated the congested stage.
We filled out a questionnaire which had 5 categories to rate from A-F. We added a 6th, Supers, and gave you guys an A.
p.s. The show received a standing ovation and several curtain calls.
I have to say that the chorus members make it possible for us to do this - they are aware of our presence and help us appear to navigate gracefully. I don't feel particularly graceful when I'm mincing across the stage with that tray of glasses! I just take a deep breath, stand up straight and plunge into the crowd. But they step aside or part for us to move through as part of the action on stage. What a difference from last year when we had to maneuver a pallet with a person on it around someone who refused to take one step to the side to let us pass.
I have one more opportunity to mince gracefully across the stage, but it's a week away. I hope I don't lose all my glass balancing skills between now and then.
That leads me to a question... One entire week between performances... with no rehearsals... will that matter? I wonder if the principals rehearse or go over the music during their time off. I imagine that they sing every day as part of their routine. But do they take this time to review, or do they use it to prepare for their next engagement?
Saturday, July 19, 2008
As I was wending my way through the halls and passageways to the dressing room, the stage manager pulled me aside. "I want to talk to you," he said.
Uh oh, what did I do now?
"I wanted to let you know that... [dramatic pause] we've put weights in the bottoms of the glasses to help keep them from tipping."
Whew, is that all?
He said we were all doing a great job. That's nice to hear. I mean, what we do isn't very difficult (except for the spillage issue) but still, it was nice of him to say that. Thanks, Stage Manager!
Mild drama pre-curtain: No one had seen one of the singers, someone who has a part, which, coincidentally, is the only part in the opera that has no cover. (A cover is an understudy, someone who learns the part just in case the singer can't sing a performance.) So there was a little excitement there for about 3 minutes, until someone confirmed that this singer was, indeed, in the theater.
So here's why I smiled:
Pre-curtain, we were all in our places, which means everyone backstage except Liz (Violetta), who is laying (lying?) on the table. Before the curtain rose, Michael (Alfredo) ran out and kissed her. Isn't that sweet? It was an awwwwww moment.
Here's why I laughed:
So the chorus and supers come slowly onto the stage. Then during a rest in the music the chorus starts slowly moving to a count of 8. Some fast music starts in the middle of that but they ignore it... they freeze, there's another rest in the music, then the lights come on and they move normally and start chatting, laughing, etc - you know, party noise. That's when the supers move forward and set the table. So today, just as they went from silent to partying, one of the guys in front of me sneezed. I don't know how he held it in, but he did. He waited until the very moment that the orchestra began playing loudly, and then..... AahhhhCHOO! So as I moved forward with the flowers I laughed. The entire chorus is on stage laughing and partying so it didn't matter, but after half a second I was like, "Wipe that grin off your face and look serious!"
I laughed again after the drink serving because we had no spills! Although I did learn that one of the prop people lost a trayfull backstage when they were setting them up for us. But that doesn't count!!!
Liz sounded fabulous tonight. I know, I sound like a broken record. All you young'uns out there, think of "broken record" as a skipping CD that plays the same bit over and over... get the idea? I wish I could've stayed for the 3rd act but the pizza I had for dinner wasn't sitting well in my stomach so I decided not to hang around.
Everyone looks tired. You'd never know it from their performances, but as soon as they leave the stage they droop with fatigue. It reminds me of those first few months of parenthood. At least they have the opportunity for several hours of sleep in a row.
Next and final performance: Saturday afternoon. And my Internet Friend will be there!!! Today while I was standing there sweating on stage at the end of Act 2 I realized that I can see the people in the standing room section, where my friend will be. I thought about what it's going to be like next week - I'll be scanning the crowd for him and then scrambling up there to find him during intermission. I'm really looking forward to meeting him!
This Afternoon: A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after 3pm. Partly cloudy, with a high near 96.
Well. That's the weather forecast.
Traviata #4 of 5 tonight. I forecast much sweating on stage, minor silliness backstage, standing ovations and runny mascara in the house.
And now, a musical interlude:
Friday, July 18, 2008
On a totally unrelated note: Momentary rant on the subject of freedom of speech:
This blog is about me. I write whatever I want, whatever comes to my head, whatever makes an impression on me, etc. I don't slander anyone and I don't break any laws. So what is up with people In Real Life approaching me out of the blue and asking me not to write about them, like someone did yesterday? If I then DON'T write about that person it doesn't mean I listened to him or her. It simply means that I never planned on mentioning the person. Heh heh I guess I just did, sort of.
And ok, if a person happens to host a website, legally that person can't prevent people from linking to it. If I am asked nicely (and please don't tell me your lawyers are going to call me unless they want to give me extra Yankees tickets, then by all means give them my number), I'll probably edit an entry, but if anyone anywhere, In Real Life or online, fancies him or herself important enough to tell me what and what not to write about in my own personal blog, a blog about me, get over it. It's not about anyone else. It's about me! Besides, about 20 people read the blog, tops. Maybe 25 on a good day. It's interesting to know that I'm perceived as having so much power. Trust me, I don't.
So I'm not trying to be mean, or whatever. Just this: Remember - it's just a blog. And oh yeah, it's about me. Ok, /rant.
And now, just to remind ourselves of what it's all about:
Ta da! Cat pic Friday!
About a year ago, possibly more, there was one person who commented on all the Magic Flute videos I posted to YouTube. We had these little comment conversations, and soon he began commenting here on the blog. Then, I don't remember when exactly, we found each other on one of the Social Networking Sites and became friends. We've exchanged emails, chatted online and even spoke on the phone once. Well guess what? He's coming to see Traviata next week!
Now before your mind wanders off in the wrong direction: This is not a romantic attachment. Besides the fact that he has a girlfriend and I have a husband, I'm old enough to be his mother. But thanks to the Internet, we found that we have a similar sense of silly humor and we like much of the same music. He normally lives in Another Country although he's from the states. He's coming back for a visit. He'll be in a Nearby Large City from where it's an easy train ride to the theater. So we're going to meet In Real Life. I've spoken on the phone with a couple of Internet Friends but this will by my first Actual Encounter.
So thanks, YouTube, thanks Magic Flute and of course, thanks Mozart.
AN EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM NOON TODAY TO 8 PM EDT SATURDAY.That's good. I'm glad I'll start sweating the moment I walk out my front door tomorrow evening, instead of remaining relatively dry until I get backstage.
AN EXCESSIVE HEAT WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM SATURDAY EVENING THROUGH SUNDAY
EVENING. HIGH TEMPERATURES WERE CLOSE TO 90 TUESDAY. TEMPERATURES TOPPED
OUT IN THE LOWER 90S WEDNESDAY AND IN THE LOWER AND MID 90S THURSDAY, ALTHOUGH
THE HUMIDITY WAS ONLY MODERATE EACH DAY.
...CONDITIONS WILL BE EVEN MORE UNCOMFORTABLE TODAY AND SATURDAY. SOME SPOTS MAY
REACH THE UPPER 90S THIS AFTERNOON, BUT THAT IS EVEN MORE LIKELY SATURDAY.
TODAY AND SATURDAY ARE FORECAST TO BE THE HOTTEST DAYS OF THIS HEAT WAVE.
HEAT INDICES ARE EXPECTED TO REACH NEAR 100 DEGREES BOTH DAYS. THE HEAT AND
HUMIDITY WILL CONTINUE TO SOME DEGREE SUNDAY...
And speaking of sweating on stage, two of my coworkers came to see Traviata last night. One is Very Knowledgeable about opera. She teaches opera-related courses at a nearby music college as well as a local adult school, plus she attends many live operas per year. She and I went to see Romeo and also La Fille together. With no prompting from me, she stopped by my desk this morning to say how much she loved it, especially Violetta, and that the performance needs a bigger theater, especially with Violetta's wonderful voice. Yeah, no kidding. I don't know about our Violetta, but I do know that in the past, other principals have said that they'll try out a big role in a smaller company like this one even though they have performed other roles at larger houses. We don't know, of course, but we wondered if that wasn't the case here. My friend also said that of all the many times she's seen Traviata, Violetta's reading of the letter near the end was by far the best. That's a HUGE compliment coming from this particular person. She was Very Impressed. How is this related to sweat? Well when I mentioned how hot it is on stage at the end of Act 2 scene 2, she said that we all must have very good makeup because no one was glistening. Haha.
My other coworker also stopped by to say how much he enjoyed it. Traviata is his favorite opera. He also said, unprompted by me, that he was blown away by Violetta and how amazing she was.
Next performance: Saturday night.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
The theater in which this performance takes place is piggy-backed onto another, larger theater. They have separate entrances but are attached via partially underground hallways. Partially, you say? How can that be? Well the older, larger theater is uphill from the newer, smaller one. So to enter the backstage area for the smaller one from outside you have to go down a short flight of stairs. Then as you wend your way through the halls and passageways you go up a few steps. From there you wiggle about a little, go through a room full of I don't know what, pipes and wires and planks and things, through a door, around a wrought-iron spiral staircase and into a hall where you can find doors leading directly to the sidewalk. The theater (the older one) is still a flight above. In those hallways you will also find a green room, some private dressing rooms and the chorus/super dressing room. The spiral staircase leads to the backstage area of the larger theater. I'm very glad I don't have to climb that staircase in my dress! It's hard enough going up the standard staircase to the theater we're in. I have to gather the thing up and I hold it in front of me in a ball. And forget about going to the bathroom. Actually I can't forget about that - I always need to go, usually the moment I get my costume on. But so far, so good. Meaning, I haven't dipped my dress in the toilet, always a good thing. So where was I? Oh yeah... today I noticed that in this vague room in between the hallways that connect the theaters, not only are there pipes and wires and planks and things, there is also a circular saw with a piece of wood on it and a pile of sawdust below it. Like, right next to where we have to walk. How odd, I thought, to be going back and forth from the green room to the stage past a large scary saw.
As I watch the chorus members get more and more tired from constant rehearsals, master classes, coachings and other performance-related projects, I realize that there is no way I could do what they're doing. I think I would drop from exhaustion. The fact that they don't drop, that they keep pressing on, to me shows that they're all very serious and dedicated about what they do.
So now that we've done a couple performances, the reviews have come out. For example, the Philadelphia Inquirer:
...in the intimate exchanges of La Traviata, whose heavy-handed Violetta, Elizabeth Caballero, made the audience wait at length for her to stop swigging champagne before launching into Verdi's famous "Sempre Libre" aria. But she was worth the wait. You don't realize how much you're used to iffy pitch in this aria until it's largely absent, as it was here. Her midweight lyric soprano managed all three acts with equal adeptness...
The Courier Post:
Elizabeth Caballero conveyed Violetta's heartbreak and despair as her lover humiliates her. Caballero reached the heights in the final act. As Alfredo swept the dying woman in his arms, she was no longer merely singing notes or making gestures. She was capturing Violetta's joy and suffering in a voice suffused with death.
...her interpretation gained in intensity and nuance as the performance progressed. She deserved the big ovation she got at the end of the performance.
See, this is why I love being a super. It's a treat to be surrounded by such talent!
Ok, so the tippy glasses aren't on my mind much... maybe I need a break.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
The music - it's Rossini, how can it be bad? It's so clever and... so fast! How can anyone sing Rossini? It sounds impossible.
Everyone in the cast was awesome - especially the woman who played Cenerentola. Leah Wool - I think that's her name. She was adorably cute and made the impossible coloraturas look easy. She was fabulous. She reminded me of Cecilia Bartoli, only (dare I say) better. Smoother, somehow. Of course I still luv Cecilia, but she has to share her throne.
I admit I couldn't give the performance the full attention it deserved because Alex was fidgeting and being restless. Other things I remember are silly, perfectly timed choreography with the music, um... the stepsisters fainting and being dragged offstage by their feet, and one scene where they're all eating spaghetti in rhythm.
So I know it's a sort of lame review, detail-wise, but my overall impression was that of fun, silliness and musical excellence.
Then today - today was the final dress for Merry Widow. After Alex's restlessness at Cenerentola I wasn't sure if I should bring him, but he said he wanted to go. I decided not to "force" him to sit through the whole thing, so we went a little late. We got there I think at the end of Act 1, when someone (since I just walked in I don't know who was who) was convincing Hannah (Jen Aylmer) to dance, and she said she didn't dance, but then he convinced her? I didn't see enough to figure out what was going on. And then the curtain came down at the end of the act. Intermission, orchestra notes... 40 minutes later... Alex is sitting, oh so quietly. I'm thinking, ok, I should have him walk around now so he can sit still when the performance continues. But he was sort of dozing off. So he sat on my lap for the next act. It was great. Hannah had an aria about... oh man I can't remember... like a wood sprite or something? And then the dancers - they were awesome! I love watching professional dancers. They flow like water. The costumes were cute. Then there was a whole lot of dialogue. Alex got bored and fidgety so we left. There was a tv monitor in the lobby so we watched the guys do a silly song-and-dance thing - Alex was laughing out loud. Suddenly he wanted to go back in - so in we went. We saw the prince (I think? again, it's hard to know since we missed the first act) try to figure out who left a fan with "I love you" written on it, and it was all very silly. But about 10 minutes later Alex wanted to leave so we did. The small bit of singing and acting that I did see seemed perfect to me, but what do I know? The singing was beautiful and not only was it all in English, but I could understand everyone without reading the projected titles. We were at the top of the theater and had no problem hearing or understanding anyone's singing or talking. It was cool to hear the characters talk - usually they're singing, right? Just like their singing voices, their speaking voices on stage are smooth and clear - it's hard to explain. Even though they're not singing, their voices have a timbre to them, not quite musical, but ... something. Very pleasant and almost bell-like. Not the same as everyday normal talking. This is frustrating because I'm sure there must be some term or proper way to describe it.
So my impression: Great comedic acting, great singing, great dancing. I'm sorry I couldn't see the entire thing but that's one of the many things about parenthood - you often don't get to do what you want. Ah well, I'm used to that.
Monday, July 14, 2008
- When you're feeding your infant (breast or bottle) he or she looks at you with these big, trusting eyes. My son made these cute little noises (that he still makes today when he uses a straw!) and he also used to hum a descending tone.
- They smell wonderful. Even their breath. I loved smelling my son's breath when he was an infant. That may sound weird to anyone who is not a parent.
- There is nothing like the weight of a baby on your chest or in your arms. They're like warm sacks of sugar.
- At about 8 weeks old, they smile at you. It's impossible not to smile back.
- Baby giggles are wonderful.
- They look angelic when sleeping.
- My son sang before he could talk. I love that! He would ask to hear pieces of music by da da da-ing the first few bars. He would get insistent if we didn't put it on right away. He also used to chant out the beat of songs.
- It's wonderful to cuddle with your child.
- Pretty much any time I sit or lay down my son will climb all over me and then settle in somewhere.
- A spontaneous kiss or "I love you Mommy" can brighten up your gloomiest mood.
- I love getting on the floor to play.
- Children interpret things from their own self-centered perspective. Sometimes they'll answer a question correctly but it's not the answer you expected. It's awesome! You see the world a whole new way.
- Watching a child learn opens up your own imagination.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
On the door of the dressing room was a note from the director saying how great it was on Friday night, but can the cast please not drop any glasses in act 1 - it looks terrible.
Well yeah, we know. I'd like him to try walking across the stage holding those very light, top-heavy glasses while trying not to trip on a too-long skirt!
So today I had myself so worked up about those darn glasses that I was shaking. Gee, counter-productive or what? It didn't help that I had just had the conversations referred to in my previous post. So I took a deep breath and out I went with my wobbly tray. Instead of crossing downstage to the people on stage right, I headed for the nearest clump. Everyone had seen the signs about dropping the glasses, so thankfully two of the singers took two glasses each and handed one to his companion. I made it off stage without any mishap.
One of my fellow supers, however, was not so lucky. In the very opening scene, when I bring out the flowers and we set the table, her task was to bring full glasses to the table, plus the sugar glass that Violetta later smashes to the floor. As we move forward to set the table, some choristers move across the stage. Everyone was in a slightly different location than they had been before, and someone ran right in front of her, knocking into the tray. It all went down, including the special breakaway glass. Oops. Luckily, since we reenter immediately with our trays of glasses, she was able to get a new sugar glass for the table. And then, once again, I went BACK onstage to clean up the floor. My co-super had wiped some of it up, but it was a Big Splash.
Everything else went smoothly. Everyone sounded great, as usual. Michael and Elizabeth, our Alfredo and Violetta, were wonderful, and of course super sweet. He's so funny. We can see across to the other wings and during the toreador bit he was back there disco dancing to the music.
I would have stayed (and no doubt cried) for Act 3 but Husband had a ticket to a local AA minor league baseball game that evening so I skipped out.
Next performance: Thursday night.
I've said it before and I'll say it again:
My blog is in no way affiliated with nor endorsed by ANY opera company. I have, in the past, submitted guest blog posts for a local opera company, however that has nothing to do with anything I write about here in my PERSONAL blog. My blog is about my experiences, and MY IMPRESSIONS of what I see.
That said, many readers may notice some changes all of a sudden. These changes were not due to any empty threats I may have received from people who don't like to hear how they appear to others. In fact, in a way, it's just the opposite - It's because I very much like and respect the particular opera company with which I am a supernumerary. In a conversation that could have come out of "Mean Girls," (incidentally one of my favorite movies - go read my profile), I realized that reporting my honest impressions about certain people or events regarding that opera company could reflect poorly on the opera company itself, even though my blog is not affiliated with the company at all. However, to prevent any potential bad feelings toward that company, I have removed all references to said company from my blog.
It's not like what I wrote was news to anyone anyway.
I did learn today that I was not the only blogger asked (vaguely threatened) to change a post because it hurt someone's feelings. I know what the post was about and I don't think it was bad. It too was a report of her experience, from her perspective, and even included an apology for a misunderstanding. And while I don't know to whom that blogger's post referred, it makes me wonder if it wasn't one of the same people with whom I conversed this afternoon.
Such Drama, oy vey.
Ok, I will now graduate from high school and move on to Real Life.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Before the show, the costume woman came to the dressing room and said, "Liz walked out in the middle of the Cenerentola dress rehearsal." Shocked silence. We all thought, "But... I just saw her..." The she went on, "That's the third assistant to quit on me." Later we found out that we all thought that she meant our Violetta!
I had gotten Liz (the singer, not the costume person!) a gift to celebrate opening night - a very sparkly purple and pink stuffed animal octopus. I should have taken a picture of it. I also got her a cute sparkly sequin-covered pen that perfectly matched the octopus. She wasn't in her dressing room when I got there so I sort of jammed it in by the doorknob. She seemed to like it. Who wouldn't love a purple and pink shiny octopus?
Moving right along... places please for the top of the show! Here's where I must ask - What is the purpose of a final orchestra dress rehearsal if things are different on opening night? It was no big deal that instead of a vase, the bouquet of flowers was now in what appeared to be a crystal ice bucket. It had a handle. There was 1 real flower and the rest were fake. The director wanted fresh flowers but it probably wasn't in the budget. So as the show began they totally blacked out the backstage area. While we were standing there waiting everyone was very quietly goofing around and being silly. Then Michael did his opening thing onstage, came backstage and was immediately blinded. Then, there in the dark, he said, "Oh man, I don't have water." I had just put a new bottle of water down against the wall so I gave it to him. It had one of the rubber chickens attached... (I picked up a few more after I gave one to Cody) So then the clog guy from the previous post said, "That was nice of you." and I said, "Not really." I wouldn't want our lead tenor to crack on his high C because his throat was dry... besides, I had another full bottle down in the dressing room. But even if I didn't I would have given it to him, or anyone who needed it. Well, maybe.
Ok opening scene was fine. A little crowded as Rachel was trying to put glasses on the table in one direction and I was going the other way to put the plates from the chairs to the place settings, but we worked it out. Then we went off to prepare to serve the drinks. That's when I encountered another difference from the final dress - there were heavy blackout curtains along the wings. It was impossible to see where the openings were. So I got my tray of champagne flutes. New flutes - I'd never seen these before. Nice and... light... So I was holding the tray, trying to negotiate around this heavy curtain without sizzling my costume or skin on the thing of lights back there and without tripping on my skirt... and the curtain swung back and hit the tray. It was like slow motion. One, two glasses went over. I put the tray down on the stair prop where they rolled and knocked the other three over. Rachel was waiting to go after me and I said, "I'm not going!" Couldn't go out with a wet tray of nothing... then when they came back Kelly said that two of her glasses spilled, so Casey, the asst stage manager, got some paper towels, then they were standing there all staring at each other like, "What do we do?" So I said, "Here, give them to me!" And I went on stage from the most upstage wing, found the spill, got down on my hands and knees and crawled along drying the floor, all while "Libiamo" was going on around me. I was behind the table, and there's a long table cloth, so the audience probably didn't know I was there. I was trying not to laugh, and wanted to get off stage as quickly as possible, so when I got up I went straight back, which meant I had to split up a couple who had their arms around each other. I don't even know who it was - I was just intent on getting the heck outta there. Later a lot of people were like, "Wow, that was great the way you came out to clean that up! You're a great actor." I think they thought I came up with that idea on my own.
We run back onstage for the money-throwing scene. I lapsed into believing that it was real - I was truly concerned about this fight and horrified when he threw the money. I felt it happening to me and I just relaxed into it. Then there's a little scuffle/fight and they stumbled upstage near us, and then I was actually concerned so that was easy to portray.
Then we were done. No chorus or supers in Act 3.
In the dressing room I learned that most of the chorus was leaving, either to go back to the dorms to drink, or out for a drink. Seemed like very few were hanging around for the reception, although some indicated that they were going out for a drink and coming back. I was a bit surprised that no one wanted to stay to watch and support the principals for the rest of the production. Kelly and I went upstairs and sat on the floor near the balcony railing. One of my coworkers is a volunteer usher and he was there. He came over and said, "Were you up there?" Uh, yeah? He didn't recognize me when I was on stage, how funny is that? "Were you singing?" Uh, nope. So I leaned on the balcony and lost myself in the story. My heart was breaking for Violetta when she read the letter and lost it and cried, "Where are you? I've waited and waited and now it's too late!" and the tears started to well in my eyes. I got more and more weepy as Violetta became more desperate, then Alfredo comes, joyful reunion, more tears, then the "I'm better, I'm worse, I'm cured, I'm dead," is so beautiful and moving. I'm just like my mother, beautiful opera makes me cry.
There were no other mishaps, at least not from my perspective. Everyone sounded great. Liz was amazing. Micheal was too, but she stole the show, by far. Andy, who plays Alfredo's father, was great too. Everyone was.
So after making sure my mascara hadn't turned me into a raccoon face, I went downstairs to wait for the reception to begin. There I met Jen Aylmer, who you might recognize here. My first impression was that she's short! And... that was her first impression of me too. "You're short!" she exclaimed. "I guess I appear tall in emails," I replied, "It's the long hair!" she said. It was funny. She wants to meet Alex, her youngest fan. When I told him he said he didn't want to meet her. We'll see...
The reception was your typical post-opera reception, sans alcohol. There was hummus, veggies, fruit and cookies, and a fountain of cranberry juice-ish punch. And of course the same set of older patrons I had to shove through to meet John O. The performers descended upon the food like vultures. I'm including myself in that group. All we had backstage for the past 3 hours was chocolate. Sounds nice in theory but real food was suddenly very attractive.
Our next performance is Sunday at 2. Hopefully someone will hold that snarky curtain aside so I can get on stage before I spill it all. I mean, someone WILL hold it. After all, now that my secret fantasy to crawl around on my hands and knees in front of a paying audience has finally been fulfilled, I want more, heh heh heh.
Friday, July 11, 2008
First off... someone brought some fancy looking hair-care products to work so I thought, hmm, uber-expensive mousse, why not give it a try. And now I know why they brought it to work. The stuff stinks! Seriously it smells like something is rotting on my head. I wonder if the fumes from the stuff (which I tried to wash out by running repeatedly under the sprinkler this afternoon) will cause any of the singers' throats to close up in disgust tonight.
Ok next. As DivaDeLaBlog pointed out, all the women in the chorus are PMSing at the same time. And of course that's contagious. I have this insecure flubbery feeling that I won't fit into my dress tonight. Trying to get over it.
And that leads to my next point: I'm nervous about tonight. What's THAT all about? I have nothing to be nervous about. I think it's because the final dress was filled with so many tech problems that I fear something will go wrong tonight. Plus, looking at the schedule for today, the tech people who are setting up and running Traviata have been there since 8am preparing for the tech rehearsal for Merry Widow. They're scheduled to work from 8am to 11:30pm. Is that even legal????
So I'm a bit anxious. I really want the show to go well. Why I have so much emotionally vested in this, I have no idea. Oh wait, I already mentioned why. It's those dang hormones.
Chocolate, chocolate... Hey I don't have to sing, I can get as phlegmy as I want.
Facebook is down. I can still get into Scrabulous, but the rest...
This means I might have to leave my computer. Wow maybe I'll burn a calorie or two by actually moving.
This post is totally boring. I'll probably delete or edit it later.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
During intermission we were invited to join the Kids Opera Camp in the lobby for a snack, and then the singer who plays Clorinda came out in full costume to talk to the kids.
Alex had a hard time keeping quiet during the 2nd act, but he usually kept it to a whisper. Twice I brought him out to explain that he had to be quiet. I told him he lost his lollipops and had to earn them back.
This is making him sound much worse than he was. For the most part he sat paying attention either on my lap, in his seat or on the ledge. In spite of that, after it ended I apologized to a man who was standing nearby. He said Alex was good except there was a point when the conductor looked back, and perhaps he's too young after all. Oversensitive me, I felt like I was punched in the stomach. My child annoyed the conductor? Was he really that loud? I felt guilty and mad at the guy for telling me that at the same time, not only for the comment about the conductor, but also about the comment about my judgement about bringing Alex. Hey, I'm allowed to judge my behavior, and I admit that perhaps I shouldn't have brought him, but this guy doesn't know my kid or how 4 year olds usually act. So on the way down the stairs I asked Alex if he felt he deserved two lollipops and he said he didn't think he deserved any! Oooh I wanted to find that dude and punch him. Momma Bear on the loose! Here's a kid who loves opera, sings on key and on pitch and wants to be an opera singer when he grows up, and how one comment from this dude makes him feel so bad about himself that he doesn't feel he deserves any lollipop! I told him that he definitely deserves one, so we went to get one. But BOY was I mad.
So if anyone who was there reads this blog, I truly apologize if Alex disturbed you during the opera rehearsal.
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Hey, at least it wasn't me.
The title of the post is probably misleading but I couldn't resist. For the most part, the final dress went well, as far as I could see. So here's the fun stuff, including the fiascos.
The lead tenor dude wasn't there – I think he was singing somewhere else – so his cover did the role. He was pretty nervous, and seemed a little tight at first, but eventually relaxed into it and opened up to a fuller, rounder sound. So before the performance started, when we were all backstage waiting to go on, I was sticking the real flower into the bouquet of fake ones that I take out and place on the table. I told him I'd place the vase on the table with the flower toward the front and he got sort of brusquely – "Make sure it's facing front. FRONT. Ok? Got it? It has to be facing the FRONT." Yeah, uh, I know… But THEN he turned to the two choristers next to me and said with a smile, "Have a great time out there tonight!" Well if you've been reading my blog for any length of time you know that this type of behavior up with I will not put. So I tapped him on the arm and said laughingly, "Hey! How come you're all nice and smiley to them, but you were all demanding and non-smiley with me? THAT'S not right." He paused for about a second, then he immediately apologized and smiled, and he was really nice the rest of the evening. On the spur of the moment I gave him the tiny rubber chicken I had been planting on the poker table for Act 2 Scene 2. He kept asking me, "Is this for luck?" and I wouldn't say. I would pause and then say, "Ok, sure. It's for luck. Yeah." or, "If you want it to be." He did keep it in his pocket for the entire performance.
Onstage serving the drinks it was a bit crowded. Everyone is in big poofy dresses and making grand flamboyant gestures. Rachel and I almost bumped into each other – what a disaster of spilled ginger-ale THAT would have been! Then I go sort of crushed in the crowd so I exited on the wrong side and had to scoot back around, no big deal.
There's a tv monitor in the green room so we can see what's going on onstage. So a bunch of us were hanging out, taking pictures and watching the monitor, when suddenly: silence. Violetta was supposed to be onstage. Silence grew awkward as people started saying under their breath, "C'mon, c'mon! Ohmigod!" and then someone said, "Kirstin! GO!" She's the cover for the role. She was like, "But... wouldn't they page me? I don't..." and meanwhile a couple people were pushing her toward the hallway. I was like, OMG, something must've happened to Liz, and I ran to her dressing room and knocked on the door. No answer. I came back and heard someone say, "There she goes." And a moment later she entered the scene. Whew.
One scene change they couldn't get a scrim or something to drop from the ceiling, so they had us clear the backstage area while they brought a cherry picker on stage. Yes, that's right, a cherry picker. I was standing there when someone moved the prop table over to make way for this contraption. That's all I saw before the stage manager asked us to skedaddle.
So for the poker and fight scene, the director decided to have the servants run on stage along with the guests. Rachel ended up one row over in the wings due to the bed that was there for the next act, a bed that if anyone touched it it collapsed off its precarious table they balanced it on. Nice. So Kelly runs, I'm supposed to be after her, then Rachel, then Ken. But since Rachel couldn't see us, she ran out sort of at the same time and we had a physics problem in that two people cannot occupy the same space at the same time. So I let her go in front of me, no big deal, but then I wasn't sure exactly where to stop. It all worked out since we can't really be seen all the way upstage behind the chorus. Then the singing was so beautiful that I was getting weepy, so I was standing there trying not to cry. After all, my mascara wasn't waterproof!
Back in the dressing room a few people had problems or complaints about the costumes. Mine had many loose threads in the hem that caught on my shoes at I walked, and somehow a pin had been sewn into the hem. Most people had a good attitude about it. After all, it's pretty impressive that the small costume department can throw together fancy costumes for three operas in a short period of time. One reason we have a dress rehearsal is to identify the problems and fix them before opening night. But a couple of people were a little impatient about their particular problems. I was actually a little taken aback by their behavior when informing the costume person about the issues. All I needed was a scissor to snip a few loose strings, not a big deal at all.
Then I was done. I called my voice teacher who was in the audience, made my way through the bowels of the theater and went into the house to I watch the final act.
I'd never seen the entire act in order. It was great. Violetta is dying for the entire act. She'd have an attack, regain strength, pass out, get a little better... "Is she dead yet? Not yet... Is she dead yet? Not yet..." Finally she collapses into Alfredo's arms and he lays her gently on the floor. Everyone around me was sniffing and blowing their noses. Oh and of course during one quiet bit a woman nearby was unwrapping a hard candy or something in a very crinkly wrapper, very very slowly, then she slowly I think folded it up... WHY WHY WHY???????
Then the curtain call was fun to watch too, except Elizabeth wasn't feeling well (after all, she just played a dying woman for the previous 3 hours) and she looked a little peaked up there. I never would have known - her performance was wonderful. She throws herself into the part completely and is often crying and emotional when she exits the stage, because Violetta is. It boggles my mind that she can sing while almost crying like that, but she does, and it's beautiful.
Anyone local out there reading this should come see her perform. And bring tissues.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Sunday, July 6, 2008
During tech rehearsal hell, *YAWN* there's the crew on the stage doing I don't know what. Their thing. And the rest of us doing... nothing. No thing:
In making these little clips, I made sure not to record the principals. And it's obvious that no matter how great they sound in rehearsal, they're holding it back until the performance.
So all this big deal is made about sopranos being divas. Yeah, maybe the nobody sopranos in the chorus last year... but as far as the principals go, the sopranos so far have been sweet and normal. The tenors, on the other hand, seem to sort of act like little girls.
Baritones, of course, flirt like crazy, even when they're not interested in women. Mezzos are super-friendly (no pun intended but go ahead and think I did it on purpose if you want) because they're tired of always pretending to be boys. Supers are shy and keep to themselves but I'm breaking the stereotype! I am superluminous, watch me glow!
Hmm. That about sums it up.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Turns out he was there today and snagged a couple of shots of the costume that stopped the show with a fit of giggles:
These photos were taken by photographer Jeff Reeder. Look, not only does he have that professional web page, he also keeps a blog. Check it out!
Hooray! When I got there I asked the wig people. One of them looked at me and said (nicely), "You can wear it in a braid if you can contain it." So needless to say she ended up putting it up (containing it?) into a huge wide bun.
I'm 2nd from the right in this picture. I marshaled the supers together for a picture, and then Kirstin, one of the overly-pretty platinum blonds in the chorus, was walking by so I grabbed her and pulled her in. (Yes, I know what platinum blond looks like. She's wearing a wig.) She's really sweet. I think you can see in the picture that Ken and Rachel (left and 2nd from left) are really shy, Kelly (next to me) is kind of shy, and me, I'll grab anyone and hug them in close for a picture.
You can't see it in the picture but we also had this white lacy thing sort of stuck on the top of the buns. That's the hair bun, by the way.
I just want to warn you, don't stare at those checked dresses too long or your eyes will go all wonky.
There is much to tell about the rehearsal. Like, how we had ginger ale in the glasses, and Elizabeth (Violetta) chugged a glass down as she does as part of the action and it spilled all down the front of her dress. Then there's supposed to be something called a "click-track" which is prerecorded music that's supposed to be coming from another room, but although they tried like 5 times, the music never started, and then it started about 5 minutes later just as Violetta and Alfredo were about to kiss. They had been arguing since yesterday that it'd be better if the orchestra played it, and today's rehearsal proved they were right. I, of course, have no idea if they prevailed. I guess I'll find out... Ok, so later, there's a scene where a messenger comes in to give Violetta a letter. Remember, this is the first time we're all seeing everyone's costumes. Kelly and I had climbed up to the top of the stairs and were watching from this ledge on the side of the house (remember, the house is the word for the part of the theater where the audience sits). So out comes John dressed in his messenger costume - long straight hair wig, a straw hat, baggy pants that ended below the knee and... wooden clogs. Traviata is a tragic opera, very tragic story. Everyone -cast, crew, the spattering of visitors in the audience - burst out laughing and kept it up for about 5 minutes. The director was like, "Maybe we need to rethink your costume... try it again without the shoes..." It was hilarious.
After Ken and I moved the table on, one of the interns was there holding my tray of glasses, and as I took it from her, she didn't let go. I was tugging it because my cue had come and gone. Then the drinks were sliding and she was trying to straighten them. Finally I said, "Just let go!!!" and ran on stage to serve them. I swear I spend most of my time onstage trying not to laugh at whatever was going on moments before I enter.
Final dress, with a real orchestra: Tuesday.