Dear Director of Magic Flute from 2003, you aren't at the opera house anymore, but last night I had to learn your blocking and staging for your Queen of the Night from your 'vision-2003' production because I did my first 'real' German Einspring!
That means that I got a call from the theater at 6pm on Thursday with the questions- where am I, and am I available to sing on Friday?
And so, at 11:45 today I had a costume fitting (they requested my measurements from previous-long-term-German-Queen-gig and had already altered the thing for me!), at 12:30 I watched the dvd, and from 13:00-13:30 I had a room rehearsal with the assistant director and the conductor (who was ALSO new that night and had NEVER worked with the orchestra before because he was AUDITIONING himself! To be the conductor next year!).
Ok, so then I get to see the set shortly before the show opens. And, oh dear director o'mine, you decided it would look "TOTALLY AWESOME" if the Queen sang her first aria from BEHIND A BLACK SCRIM ALL THE WAY UPSTAGE IN A PICTURE WINDOW!!
Really? I mean....rrrreeeaalllly?
First of all, I'm fine with singing stuff totally upstage. That wasn't the issue. It IS a bummer when you know you want to make a big splash with the first queen's aria and you're one MILLION meters away from the first row, and so you KNOW that the orchestra will be pounding out that B section no matter how well I support and carry and ping, and .etc.etc.
Secondly, your 'blocking' involved making 'pictures'/still images of a Queen with 'red' in the background. Soooo...I'm wearing a red dress that looks like a blazing half sun and WEIGHS a HALF TON (I could have fit three ME's underneath the span of the skirt). And you want me to simply look right once, look left once, make one hand motion and otherwise look straight forward and be a stone.
Now let's get to my FAVORITE part. The BLACK SCREEN in front of me which made it utterly impossible and I mean this was on the verge of scary-impossible to SEE the conductor. Both in the PIT and on the MONITOR to the top left-- all I could see through the black was a tiny gray/white image of a BODY, but certainly no stick waving or anything like that.
Not something they really prepared me for or told me about...would have been nice to know that I couldn't see anything AND I can't go by sound since I'm a good 50 feet behind the orchestra pit.
So in the first aria I was frozen not because of your genius staging, but because there was literally no way that if I moved I could keep any kind of focus on that gray blob whose body language I was attempting to follow.
PS- I HAVE sung behind scrims before- both for Queen's first aria and in Barber of Seville before Rosina's first aria-- however for some reason, the lighting and, oh, the fact that I had REHEARSED with the maestro numerous times before, made singing and not seeing no problem at all.
Other than that moment of realizing- ok then, I'll be singing the B section in THIS tempo and let's hope he goes with me, because I sure can't go with him--- everything was great and fun and did I mention fun?!
The 2nd aria had extra dialogue that I hadn't had for 2 years plus a few extra lines that I had never had for Queen before. So I had to learn that on the fly. They even had a souffleuse there (prompter), but I didn't need that and I just did my thing and then sang the aria and stormed off to a lot of applause!
Then I got to hang around, as usual, for the anti-climactic last death-quintet, take my bow, and head home on the train.
It was a really fun day. I don't know whether I'd like to do this type of thing with a LONGER role where you really have to make sure that you remember EVERY thing new about the new staging that is being thrown at you...but it's so easy when Queen is only onstage 3 times.
And so I say- bring it on! This month has been totally awesome in terms of last minute things coming up. And even though I'm completely exhausted, I have the weekend, I'm relaxing, and will be as good as new for next week's travels!