Thursday, August 04, 2005

Muscle memory

One more thought on Ainadamar: The opera opens with a fairly long overture, much of which is electronic. In this production, the cast walks onstage and into position in half light, the lights go down, and the overture starts. There is no movement until the singing starts four or five minutes later.

In the previous production, I had a big dance solo during the overture. The dance itself wasn’t hard, and Osvaldo loved it. It was through this dance that I first discovered “duende,” although I didn’t know it at the time. The trouble was, the electronics in the overture are rhythmic yet formless, lacking a definite beat (in a dancer’s sense, anyway). It starts with countinuous sounds – running water, galloping hoofbeats, echoing trumpets – overlapping and finally being taken over by the clack of an intense flamenco rhythm. After making my way on stage (wearing my giant figurative horsehead mask), I vamped a menacing crouch step while waiting for the first rimshot to break through the atmospherice sounds of the electronic tape. On that sound, I had to start my dance, which moved forward – again with no clear beats – like a runaway horse, if you will. (Ouch.) My heart, which was already pounding with adrenaline, jumped out of my chest every night, helping to propel me forward.

So imagine my body’s reaction when I heard the overture again. Standing still, in the dark, my heart leaped again at that all-too-familiar rimshot. I had to laugh! Even now, having heard the overture five or six times with the new staging, my body remembers the moves and wants to dance.


Brendan said...

Once while I was doing Musical theater in my freshman year of high school a cue which was used twice in the show inspired me to skip to a scene towards the end that was completely out of context of where I was. The problem was that my supporting actor on stage just continued to do that scene with me. The audience was very confused. I luckily, never made that mistake again... I also last year during a master class began singing the words to another song to the same melody and rhythm of the song I was "actually" singing, because of a word that sparked a memory. Weird how your mind plays tricks on you isn't it?

ACB said...

Brendan, thanks for stopping by! And good luck an your "Helden journey." My advice? Go s..l..o..w.. You are very young, and true Helden voices develop in their 30's or even 40's. You're on the right path; just avoid shortcuts and you'll be fine. Good luck!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...