Friday, November 9, 2007

In da house

Da opera house, yo.

Wednesday night was one of the most nervous nights I've ever experienced in an opera house: the piano tech of REFUGE. "Piano" means that we have a pianist (the indestructable DH) instead of the orchestra, "tech" because it's a technical rehearsal where we stop to fix any problems with lights, sound, spacing, etc. We use a piano at such rehearsals because it's easier (and cheaper!) to stop and start with one musician than with dozens. Piano techs are always our first rehearsals in the theater. Piano techs for a world premiere are more challenging because of the number of unanswered questions in a brand-new piece. And a piano tech for a world premiere that involves several dozen musicians who have never been in the theater The prospect of putting the piece together musically was already monumental. Now add to that the task of caring for a large group of people so that they don't get lost, don't get hurt, have everything they need, feel welcome, get warmups, get to stage on time...
Oh, and did I mention that this was the one rehearsal in which everyone except the soloists received their staging directions? Madness. We got through all of the transitions -
(example: at the end of the first movement, the entire chorus, childrens' chorus, African chorus, and all six soloists are onstage. In the silence between that and the next movement, the guest dan bau player must enter with her instrument, soloists must exit and re-enter with chair and stand for her, the children must exit, the chorus must sit, the lighting has to change, and new projections must come up onto the five screens suspended over the stage. Ok...go.)
-but I thought that no one would ever remember the huge amount of information they had received. The kids were practically asleep on their feet by the time we ended at 11:30. Our intrepid and passionate director and assistant director, ES and LD, after four hours of brilliance, were exhausted. Our dress rehearsal was less than 24 hours away.
And, although as SB says, "there is not enough coffee in the world this morning", I am proud and ecstatic to report that last night's dress went beautifully. Problem-free? No, but surprisingly so: we made it from beginning to end with only one major stop. Think of it! This was the orchestra's third time through the piece, and the first run-through without stopping ever for anyone involved, and we made it! We regularly experience the whole works that we put together as being much more than the sum of their parts, and that was more true than ever at this rehearsal.
But, oh, what glorious parts:
- the joyous tenor soloist who opens the show, the dramatic work of the HGO chorus in "Africa: and the whole stage coming together for the final anthem in that movement
- The gorgeous love story of Vietnam with RM and FS, and the Vietnamese national anthem accompanied by the orchestra humming harmonies
- our orchestra rocking out on "Mexico", and the huge heart of the Sacred Heart choir
- the unearthly combination of our Quwali soloist with JB, and the ravishing duet of sitar and AS
- our amazing men, BG, LB, and RM, in the "Soviet" movement
- RC bringing down the house in "Central America", and our combined forces lifting everyone back up in the finale.
Nothing like this has ever happened before...and it happens twice tomorrow in our house. Thanks, everybody.

1 comment:

sheela said...

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