Monday, August 31, 2009

Uh Oh

I might be in some deep Sheiße.

Today was my first day or rehearsals, and I got to see what the scoop was here. First of all, as seems to be typical with European houses, they don't hold your hand and show you where you need to be and chew your food for you and spit it into your mouth like you're a little baby bird. In the U.S., somebody usually picks you up at the airport, and even if they don't there's an office you report to on your first day and they show you around, they tell you where to go, they sometimes even give you coupons for some restaurant where you can get 20% off your hot wings.

In Europe they assume you're a grown-up and can figure out where to go and how to get there. Except I want somebody to take my hand and lead me to my special rehearsal room. I don't want to try to explain to the security guard in my weird pigeon German that I have to get to office 222, and have the word I'm using for office actually mean something else, so that she scans her list of keys and solemnly shakes her head at me. And then I want somebody to lead me to the costume shop, the wig shop, and the rehearsal room which are all three not only on different floors, but in different buildings.

No such luck here, but the other mezzo was incredibly nice, and took me everywhere I needed to be, thank god. Because I would have been utterly lost without her. I got to try on my costume, which looks great, and my wig, which is white, so not super flattering on me, but I will recover. Then I realized what deep doo doo I'm actually in.

I am singing performances 3 and 4. The reason is that the house fest singer (the singer that works at this theater year round) was slated for this role, but she also sings Octavian, and there were these two Barbiere performances where she would have had to do Barbiere and Rosenkavalier on subsequent nights, and they didn't think that was a good idea, so they got me, trusty stand in, to sing those two peformances. But it turns out there are only three days of rehearsal, one stage rehearsal, and that's it before the opening. And during those three days, there probably won't be time for me to work with the other singers at all, much less get on the stage or sing with the orchestra, so basically I will watch the rehearsals, rehearse separately with the director, wait two weeks, and then make my debut at the Berlin Staatsoper. If that doesn't sound absolutely frightening to you, then read it again. 3 days of watching rehearsal and two weeks off, followed by a debut at the Staatsoper. It's so beyond frightening that I'm kind of laughing.

Some people are not that into rehearsing. They like the excitement of just going for it, without all the preparation. I am not like that. I like a good solid month of rehearsing, even with a role I've sung before, possibly because I just really enjoy the rehearsal process. I like determining the intricacies of the character, and trying each scene ten different ways. But this should be fun too.

One problem is the fact that in this production (which I found out today is from 1969!!! and still going strong because people love it so much) there is a lot of movement. Today I watched the first act finale, and literally, I couldn't write everything down that was going on. At one point I actually wrote (I'm not exaggerating or making this up) "scuttle around in figure 8's flapping arms like bird." Yup. try to decipher that one. And now try to imagine doing that without rehearsal.


ken said...

Scaaaary. You'll be fine, I think. Did you know that in "Citizen Kane" the girl he was trying to make into an opera star, started out practicing "una voce poco fa"? You can answer my question from the other day when you are less stressed.

Kathleen said...

Hey! I found your blog through arts journal (I think) and have just started following you. I was a voice and German major in school and am loving being able to read about your experiences as an opera singer. I've always wondered about stuff like this in singers' careers... not many of my former classmates are to this stage yet :) Good luck with the rehearsal-watching!

Kim said...

I believe it is completely acceptable to be more than a little freaked out by this turn of events. Good luck?

mamascarlatti said...

Hi! I've also just started to follow your fascinating blog.
This is a scary situation. Have you got a video camera? Could you video the rehearsals so that you can watch them again a few times in those two weeks?
Tanti auguri anyway