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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Brevard Week 4

Well, week 3 has flown by! Still one more day left to go in the week, but wow is time flying here!

Traviata is staged and we've already had one room run thru -- today is the final room run. For those of you not familiar with the term, it's the rehearsal where we start at the beginning and go to the end of the opera in front of the designers so that they can see the show. It can also be, for students and young singers, the first time they see a complete opera -- or sing the role completely from beginning to end. For this production, we have two stellar Violetta's and they each need a run thru before we move to the theatre. The rehearsal process has been lovely on this show, the entire cast is terrific and the chorus sounds like one you'd hear at Glimmerglass. They sing with vitality and are creating individualized characters, plus there is a refreshing youthful energy to them onstage.

The rest of Brevard Music Center is now in full gear. Lots of rehearsals happening all around us and the symphonic concerts are underway at the WPA. Keith Lockhart, our artistic director, just conducted a great concert last night with the student orchestra (a rousing performance that ended with Strauss' Till Eulenspiegel) and tonight he conducts a great program: Appalachian Spring, the Vaughn Williams Oboe Concerto, and the ever-exciting Rite of Spring! I'm guessing Keith has to fly out tomorrow after the concert to get to his July 4th extravaganza that's televised across the nation -- I think he might be the only American conductor to be regularly featured on a national telecast. The Three Penny Opera is heavy into staging (they open in two weeks, followed by Hansel and Gretel the week after). Busy Busy Busy!

On a personal note, I haven't conducted this much since last year's Pirates rehearsals -- and those were a lot easier because of the dialogue. Verdi's universe is wondrous, particularly act two of Traviata (not to mention the last 5 minutes of the opera!) I find that the flexibility needed for the bel canto demands of the score challenge both the cast and myself. Tomorrow is our first orchestra rehearsal in the new space over at the Porter Center. All of us are INTENSELY interested in how the acoustics will turn out. I can't wait to see how the reduced orchestration sounds (there's not a reduced full score, so It'll be good to finally hear it for the first time tomorrow.)

Two orchestra readings, a piano tech, a piano dress, a Sitzprobe, and then a final dress are all that's left before La Traviata opens Thursday night, July 7th, 2011 at the Porter Center. If you're in the Asheville/Brevard area, get your tickets. This production promises to be one that you won't forget!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Brevard Week 2 & 3

We're actually into our third week here at Brevard Music Center. Time is flying. Act One and Act Two are staged for La Traviata - we've run both acts twice already. Three Penny Opera is getting staged and their music director, Beth Burrier is on campus holding musical rehearsals. Run-outs to country clubs (tonight's was at "Lake Toxaway") begin with about a dozen students, David Richardson and Dean Anthony all putting on a great preview of our season. Elizabeth has seen everyone at least once and is starting to really make her impact felt here as well.

All in all, we're feeling good and a bit "ahead of schedule". I hope it holds.

Tomorrow we dig into Act "3" - which of course, is Act 2, scene 2. I've never known it as anything else but Act 3, though. You know, Flora's party... The plan is to have it all staged by Thursday and then run the show Friday and Saturday. Orchestra readings start Sunday.

Opera classes have been focused (at least for me) on getting to know the students' abilities - all very talented, but also all at very different levels and stages. I'm getting the feeling right now they're competing with each other for some grand compliment or praise from David, Dean or I. Not sure, but it's just something I'm sensing.

Of course, it would all be better if everyone just focused on themselves and their own work and abilities instead of comparing themselves to their colleagues. I mean, really, why compare? It's frankly a false "control" group to compare yourself too. The makeup of the Janiec Opera Company has more to do with the opera repertoire for the summer and the roles offered, than anything else. If we had decided to do Don Giovanni instead of Traviata, there would be different singers here - and then that would make the comparisons for the others completely different. That's the thing - you'll always have others to compare yourself with and it's almost always a false comparison because it's ALL based on your locality.

I say don't compare. Focus on yourself, enjoy and learn from the others, and flow with the process of coachings and rehearsals.

Performances start up next week and don't stop until we're outa here. It'll be a fun ride, I'm sure!