Friday, September 13, 2013

The 6 stages every opera chorister goes through during a show

Hello lovelies!

It's Friday...the 13th. I just celebrated my 25th birthday and I am going out tonight for more celebrations. That being said, I should write this post now before I never get to it since I will be nursing a 4 day hangover very soon.

OLO's Carmen has successfully sold out three of their shows. Carmen could be our best selling show to date. While this is fantastic news, I am however, sad that it is coming to an end.

While the rehearsals are frequent and you say goodbye to your social life, I would consider my fellow choristers my second family. So many of my experiences are shared with these wonderful people and we've all become so incredibly close. So here's introducing the six stages I go through while performing in an opera.

1. First encounter:

The first rehearsal for a show is always tricky for both veterans and newcomers. We see who we are singing with, wonder how interesting the music will be, and if we'll even continue with the show.
There are always a few dropouts because we are human. Important engagements come up last minute or our schedules become hectic.
As for me, even if we don't have a huge role in a particular opera, I try my best to make it work because the operas are literally the highlight of my year. It's not everyday we get to act, sing, and be dolled up on the stage.

2. Goodbye outside world, hello "I can't, I have rehearsal" excuse:

Our rehearsals generally begin at least 4 months before the show. Two of those months are rehearsing the music and getting an idea of our characters. We also have about 3 weeks of break time before staging. While your social life outside of the opera world may be lacking, you are spending 2-4 nights with the same group of people a week. On my nights off, you can find me at home eating banana chips and playing Call of Duty Black Ops II. I may also do laundry because my heaping pile of dirty clothes starts to creepily resemble a human form in the dark. Not cool. Throughout this stage, I tend to meet a lot of new people and bonds are immediately formed. My social life outside of rehearsal may suck but within the opera realm, it is blooming. We get comfortable with the opera people because we are always around each other.

Most of the time when I blurt "I can't, I have rehearsal", I am actually not that disappointed. I usually have a grand old time in rehearsal.

3. Stage presence/fright:

By the time music rehearsals are over, you are expected to know your character and sing off-book. When staging comes along you meet the soloists, stage management and the director. Every director works differently and you may find yourself hating or loving the staging. You may also notice favoritism for some choristers. This is a normal procedure. No matter how brilliant you are as an actor or singer, don't expect to be put in the front all the time. I admit I've had my fair share of little spotlight moments on the stage BUT I now know that I could be pushed to the back at any time. Sure, disappointment will kick in but no one wants a hulk diva. It could be worse, y know.

This is also the time where you get to know your staging buddies. You can be paired with the most unlikely characters in the chorus. I am thankfully paired with some pretty rad people. In fact, I get to cuddle with some rad people in Act III. Thank the lord because if I had to cuddle with some stinky individuals, the hulk diva would of made an appearance.


Fun staging buddies makes for awesome memories.

4. Performance night jitters:

"Ladies and gentlemen of the chorus, this is your 15 minute call to the top of Act I.".


This happens almost every night for me. I've actually captured my reaction from my very first main stage opera: Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin in 2009. This is a real reaction, guys.

5. Fangirling over the music:

Once you sing in an opera, you can recite almost every part, orchestral and vocal. When I am not on stage, I generally wander backstage to wait for my favourite moments to happen. And when they do...


The feels.

6. The nostalgia

Your life becomes the opera for a good two weeks. It can be a harsh reality when the show comes to an end. I can't help but die a little inside when I think I won't see my opera buddies for some time or that I won't be dancing the flamenco in Act II in my gypsy costume.
When my life returns to normal, the music will surely stay in my head for a good two months but the memories...they will stay forever.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Typical events for choristers on opening night.

Good morning lovely people.

Opening night for OLO's Carmen took place on Saturday and we couldn't have been more excited. The time in rehearsal goes by so fast and you can't help but sit back and say "Where the hell did the time go?"

Sure, being part of any performance show is exhausting and your social life is on hold. However, it comes with some of the best memories you will ever experience. It's sort of a package deal, no discounts.

My daily activities at the opera consists of:

-arriving famished and inhaling my supper
-writing my name down on the makeup list
-applying mass amounts of cake foundation to my face
-waiting in line for my wig
-putting on my costume and corset. Good lord that corset does wonderful things for cleavage
-Warm-up time!

And last but not least, the mass amounts of flattering and unflattering pictures. Look at us, aren't we just gorgeous creatures?

Opening night is never complete without the adrenaline rush kicking in right when you're about to step on stage. Enter my alter ego: The Gypsy cigarette girl:


The after party:
Tradition is to have an opening night and closing night cast party. If you're with the fun crowd, I can tell you it is quite a night. Once we got the last call at the bar, we decided we weren't ready to call it a night so we ventured out to another house party. I didn't get home until 5am. What a rebel. 

That's all for now! Will post more pictures with the leads and other gorgeous people.

See ya'll later.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Carmen feels: tired, excited and sexy

Good morning lovelies,

I am le tired. Since I am on a strict eating plan, there is no coffee in my life and if I do have a coffee, headaches and camera flashes will ensue. Yep, there is no easy way out of this zombie form.

Today I am substituting my morning shake for a poppy seed muffin, a banana, and pink lemonade tea (yes, caffeine-free. Thanks for asking).

As for Carmen rehearsals, last night was our orchestra tech and is set up like a dress rehearsal but not really a dress rehearsal. Pre-dress rehearsal? Yeah, let's go with that...
We were in full costume and makeup complete with cleavage and gypsy attitude. Here's a Vine of my wig and makeup transformation:

The first part is unfortunately muted because my phone has a vendetta against me. I am simply saying "Getting my makeup and wig done for Carmen":

Why am I wearing a wig if I have very long dark blonde hair? No idea.  I was still wigged because it is still too light and it is not common in the Spanish 1830's. There are a couple of blonde women who don't have a wig so I am just as perplexed as you are. Vent over.  At least I get to be a sexy brunette five more times! Here is a still of my makeup and wig:

More photos and videos in full costume with the cast coming soon!

For now, I'm off to stare at a computer screen and wallow in self pity. Kidding, I might just fall asleep on my keyboard instead. See ya'll later.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Staging for Carmen! (Vine)

Surviving tech week for Bizet's Carmen

Opera has taken over my life. Don't worry, it's a good thing.

Our current production with Opera Lyra Ottawa is George Bizet's Carmen. Man oh man I love this opera. - here is info on the show and full cast. Check it out!

I am positive you've heard the Toreador aria or even the famous Habanera in a Reese's Pieces commercial or something:


If you haven't even heard a snippet of this music, you might as well leave now. Kidding, just kidding!

We have just finished our rehearsals in the smaller hall and will be moving into Southam Hall (main stage of the National Arts Centre) tomorrow for tech week with costumes and makeup! I play a gypsy/cigarette girl on stage and dance the occasional flamenco complete with major flirting tactics. I also forgot to mention that I get to smoke a grape flavored electronic cigarette. Basically, we get to be sexy bitches on stage and I am loving it. Our full look is complete with a corset, long curly hair and many peeks of leg and cleavage. Pictures will ensue very shortly, I promise! In the meantime, here's an idea:

Throughout the course of the week, I will be posting photos of my character transformation and updates on the show's progress.

See ya'll later!