Friday, August 13, 2010

Olympic wrap up

It really is appropriate that the opera I finished singing last night is called the Olympics, because not only was akin to an athletic event, with it's length, sheer volume of italian words, and technical requirements, but also because it came at the end of a very long stint of working without a break, overlapping job upon job, and running from country to country. I feel like I just ran a very long marathon, and I am daggone tired. Right at this very moment, I am in the Munich airport waiting for my flight back to New York, which, on Friday the 13th is delayed a couple of hours because we had to get a new plane. Fabulous.

I was actually really surprised how incredibly difficult L'Olimpiade ended up being. I mean, I guess I shouldn't be that surprised, since after the second or so coaching I had on it back in St Louis, I started crying. It just seemed like such an enormous volume of material, of which there was no recording, and no libretto with translation available. I would get through one extraordinarily long recitative with the conductor who was kind enough to go through it with me, (especially kind, since he was forced to sight read the figured bass in the recits and the full orchestral score for the arias), and turn the page to find another even longer one, followed by a 12 page aria. It just seemed endless when I was learning it, and unlike many pieces that seem shorter once you know them, this piece still seemed endless when I was performing it. I never once relaxed - I went through every scene compulsively as many times as possible in my dressing room before every rehearsal and performance. I sang through each aria before I went onstage to perform it. I recited all the recits in my head on every day off. It was a mountain. And if I zoned out for a second on stage (which is not difficult in a 5 hour opera), I would snap out of it, panic, and then reconnect to the material as quickly as possible. I didn't drop any of the recit lines in any of the performances, but almost certainly forgot to double some consonants some nights, or rolled an r where it shouldn't have been.

The added stressor of this whole endeavor was the fact that Sony was making this live recording. This was apparently the recording summer for me - first the studio one of Agrippina, then the live one of this opera. The thing is, you're already nervous about a performance, wanting it to be as excellent as it can be. But if you know you have a tiny microphone taped to your head, and that lots of people who aren't in the theater that night are also going to hear what's coming out of your mouth, it's difficult not to become hyper aware of what you're doing. In the end however, I just performed as I normally would, with dramatic gasping and panting where it was required, and didn't try to sing cleanly because of the recording. I have absolutely no idea what the end product will be, because like the studio recording, I haven't done this before and don't know what I'm doing. All I could do was be myself on stage, and do what I normally do. The rest is up to the sound engineers.

Well, my plane is boarding, so I don't even have time to proof read this entry. Just know, I'm coming home from these Olympic games, and I'm so relieved. I don't even care if I won a medal - I'm just glad I competed.


Kim said...

Congrats on accomplishing something that very few people have ever done. :) You're in a very small minority now. And you made it! I think it's so cool. I hope the recording comes out soon because I'm really excited to hear it.

Enjoy being home and drinking wine; you deserve it. :)

Micaela said...

Hi Jennifer, I'm a long-time reader but first-time commenter. Congrats on this project, it's been fascinating reading about the process of putting it all together. I'm hoping to hear it in Vienna this winter, I saw your name on the Theater an der Wien's website and was so happy that after reading your lovely blog for a while I finally will be able to hear you live!