The Barber in Tampa opened last night, and it did almost feel like just another performance of the Barber I had already begun in California. Don't get me wrong, this is a very different take on Barber in every way, but this role is beginning to feel so familiar and - GASP - so comfortable, that performing the opera is actually a pleasure! I remember talking about Rosina this summer, and complaining about how I didn't really like singing the role because I found it difficult and not terribly rewarding. But I have to say, as a result of these two productions and the things I've learned from both of them, I've changed my mind. I sincerely enjoyed myself last night!
When we started rehearsals here in Tampa, I found myself arguing with the director yet again (I can be SUCH a frigging know-it-all!). I had just come from this Barber in California where I started out arguing with the director, but which I thought really worked beautifully in the end, so now I was on board with his interpretation. And the director here wanted me to do everything completely differently, to be very broad with all my comedy moves, and to not be afraid to flail my arms and legs and fall on the floor repeatedly. I had just been convinced by director Scott to avoid anything that looked broad (actual note from Scott during Bartolo's aria: "Don't imitate Bartolo or mouth his words!") - and now I was being asked by director James to do the opposite (actual note from James during Bartolo's aria: "can you imitate him more and mouth his words?"). I knew Scott's way had worked, so I was resistant to James's way. But judging by last night's audience reaction, I now know that BOTH ways work. The audience was in absolute hysterics thanks to the broad buffo staging- I mean, they were practically rolling in aisles, they were laughing so hard. And this was a very important lesson for me to learn: There is more than one way to skin a cat. Just because something works one way, does not definitively mean that even the exact opposite won't work if it is crafted in the right way. But if you're going to do something entirely differently than you're used to, you really have to commit to it 100% or it definitely won't work. I have to be more trusting with directors and learn to just try their ideas even when I'm dubious because sometimes they really do know what they're doing.
So now I've learned that there are two ways I can play Rosina; I can play her in a way that is more feminine and dignified, or in a way that is more comic and broad. Maybe next time I sing the role, I can play around with finding a way to combine both sides of her, and that will be yet another characterization. But I've definitely learned that I should get better at taking direction. That's probably not a big surprise to anyone who knows me.
This is a great post. I have yet to repeat a role (will do that in Feb for the first time), but I just finished a show that B did a year ago. He had VERY strong ideas (as you can imagine) about what kind of humor "worked," and my show was very different. More reserved, less buffo.
But they both worked. Audiences loved both shows. It's so important as a performer to keep an open mind when coming back to material, being open to these different interpretations.
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