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...
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.