Saturday, November 17, 2007

A dream

Last Saturday felt like a dream, in more ways than one! It was a dream to up on that stage at the curtain call, surrounded by incredible artists (who are all, to a one, fun and fabulous people, too) and hearing the rush of applause from the audience when each of them would enter for their bow. My cheeks hurt from all the smiling!

But it also felt like a dream on Sunday morning, when I woke up and thought, “What happened yesterday?” I had vague memories of seeing Bryn Terfel on a darkened stage; I remembered seeing the Maestro out in the pit (so far away!) with a full house behind him; I kind of remembered singing an aria… But I am not exaggerating when I say that Wednesday night’s performance was full of moments that I just plain did not recall from the first show on Saturday!

At one point, I’m supposed to take off my hat and leave it backstage for G, my dresser, to come collect. As I was getting ready to go on Wednesday, I conferred with her about when, exactly, that was supposed to happen – because I absolutely could not remember. There was zero memory of taking off my hat!! She was pretty sure it happened before my aria, so I said I’d take if off in the very short interlude that I’m offstage after the wedding and before the aria.

So, I go on, sing the recits in the wedding scene (having much more fun and getting a bit more flirty with the Count this time around), exit the stage with Kate (Cherubino), and am met by M, a stage manager, who says, “Bend down.” She then proceeds to take off my hat! Honestly? As far as I know, that didn’t happen on Saturday. Of course it did, but the memory has been completely blacked out, along with the dancing in the wedding scene, and any thing that happened between my dressing room and the stage. It’s just gone.

Why? I usually have the ability to take in a lot of what is going on around me while I’m performing and still stay focused on doing my job. In school productions, I always found my parents in the audience without even trying; my scope was just wide, and I knew their faces well enough to spot them in a crowd without much effort. But on Saturday? That scope, that focus, was so close in, I’m surprised I even saw the audience. There is always a lot going on “behind the scenes” of a show, things other than the stage action, but at the Met, it’s off the charts. In order to make it out alive, I had to tune out all the unnecessary stuff. It’s kind of amazing, really, the brain’s ability to do that…

By Wednesday, I was able to have much more fun, to open my focus a little bit more. This time around, I knew what the orchestra was going to sound like (I didn’t get the chance to sing my aria at the Sitzprobe…), I knew what to expect from the harpsichord and continuo, and I knew my way around the set a little better. I knew where my colleagues were going to be, so I didn’t have to worry about stepping on them like I did with a chorus member during the wedding dance on Saturday! I could relax a bit into my aria, since I knew my way around the stage and I knew when and where and how to connect with the Maestro.

All this, and I had a TINY role!! I can’t imagine how Susanna or the Count or any of them did what they did on Saturday. It’s a testament to their skills as stage creatures, as professionals who thrive under less-than-ideal conditions. A long rehearsal period is a luxury, I’m learning, and these folks know how to get it done under pressure.

In other news, my cold was very short-lived; two days of rest and lots of water and yin qiao knocked it out. My parents have been having a great week in NYC: a fantastic dinner at Telepan before the show on Wednesday (thanks for the rec, JSU!), the NYFOS concert and swank party afterwards, a trip to the American Girl store with the birthday girl (6!), sitting in on ESL classes at a local middle school (Mom) and tiling the Brooklyn Birds’ kitchen (Dad). I’ll meet up with them again tonight, after today’s matinee and an audition at 6. This audition requires some scene reading – in an Irish accent! Fortunately, my dear PM was in town still, and we met up over hot chocolate yesterday to talk soft T’s and closed O’s.

It’s been an intense few weeks around here, but I wouldn’t change a bit of it. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

PS: This is my 500th post! What's the gift for 500?


El Doctorcito said...

Very cool to read what can be going on compared to us who sit and listen and enjoy. What an especially cool entry.

Anonymous said...

So awesome to hear postive things! Imagine if you had to do it all in stilts! I just saw Atlanta Opera do Hansel and Gretel. The parents had to sing on stilts,and the wicked witch was on some tall mechanical transport that lumbered her around on stage. You singers really have to be adventurous! Congrats on your big weekend and have a happy and relaxing Thanksgiving :)

Anonymous said...

Very much enjoyed the matinee on Saturday. We came up from Washington and went to Kashkaval before the show. Beyond providing an interesting glimpse into the life a young professional singer, this blog does double-duty by giving solid restaurant and shopping recommendations in upper Manhattan. Keep the dining tips coming.

JSU said...

Glad I could help!

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