So the Highlights "bulletpoint" post didn’t get written, but I got my tome on voice lessons out of the way. Now on to all the other things going on in the past few days!
Turandot has had three performances, with a pretty good review and a not so good review in the regional papers. Reviews from international opera magazines will take a little longer to appear, so the jury is still out on the overall impression. I do know that the administration at the opera is pleased, the director feels that his first opera is a success, and all the performers felt that we finally hit our stride with Saturday’s performance (the third). Yes, you can argue that we should have been there for opening night, but what can you do when you’re trying to get five operas opened in five weeks?! At a party a couple of weeks ago, a patron told me that she enjoys coming to see each opera several times thoughout the summer, to watch the evolution of the production. So obviously it is understood, in some circles, that the operas with longer runs may take some time to fully develop. Regardless, I think it is a beautiful production with skillful singing all around and some touching dramatic moments. Kevin Langan as Timur is especially moving as he mourns the death of his faithful servant, Liu (exquisitely sung in July by Serena Farnocchia, who easily gets the largest ovation of the night).
What else… I had my first real experience with vocal fatigue last week. In the week before Turandot opened, I had several days with 6 hours of rehearsal plus a 4 hour dress rehearsal that evening (“evening” rehearsals here begin at 9pm and finish around 12:30am). We were then called back for more rehearsals at noon the next day, or sometimes earlier (if we are called back to work fewer than 12 hours after we were released the previous night, union rules stipulate that we get overtime pay). A week of this pattern left me (and many others) physically tired and vocally shot. I’d never before experienced pain in my throat that wasn’t caused by illness; it is a very unsettling feeling! I was able to “mark” in some rehearsals (sing more softly, or sing things down an octave), but the only thing that really made the pain go away was being quiet. Any spare hour I had was spent relaxing, drinking lots of water, and trying not to talk – quite a feat for a “social butterfly” like me! I’m feeling much better now, and was able to sing in full voice for Saturday’s Turandot.
Peter Grimes is progressing nicely. It is an even more involved opera for the chorus, but our director, Paul Curran, is well suited to the task. He has directed the opera once before and has a clear vision and efficient rehearsal style. I think we’ve all been impressed with how quickly things have come together, Paul included! He is quick to let us know when we’re doing well, but also isn’t afraid to let us hear it when we “fall short” of his expectations! Rehearsals have generally been fun, which doesn’t have to be the case in a complicated opera like this, and we’re all looking forward to adding the rest of the elements (set, orchestra, etc.). The principals are all very strong, and I think there is potential for a real hit. The only negative thing about this production of Peter Grimes? There are only five performances.
Finally, we got our assignments for the Apprentice Scene Programs last week, and I am very happy with mine. I’ve been assigned the sextet (actually, it almost all of Act II Scene ii) from Lucia di Lammermoor, a great opera by Donizetti with one of the greatest coloratura heroines in all opera. I’ve been thinking about this role for about three years, hoping that someday my voice would “grow up” enough that I could sing it. As I started to move into coloratura land this year, the hope grew, but I’ve been floundering so much recently with what I should be singing, that I started to doubt. Then I went through the vocal roller coaster of the first few weeks here. I almost felt like I was back to square one! Then they assigned me this wonderful scene. All of a sudden I had answers. Yes, I am on the right track. Yes, my voice is growing into what I thought it would be: a solid lyric coloratura with enough warmth to sing Susanna and enough silver to sing Baby Doe. Yes, I will sing Lucia!