Saturday, November 05, 2005


Deadlines, Ms. Dahl, and my Dearest

I'm working to tough deadlines this week; the first technical rehearsal with actors for our production of "Leocadia" by Anouilh is tomorrow. For those of you who are unfamiliar with theatrical production, tech rehearsals are long, often maddeningly frustrating but absolutely vital steps in getting a play, opera or ballet on stage. They're the very first time when all the elements of a production come together in one place to be coordinated--sets, costumes, lighting, sound, projections or other apecial effects, actors. The stage run crew learns to manipulate the scenic units for the first time, dressers learn just how little time they have to get the lead from one ball gown into her travelling dress, and actors repeat an entrance or bit of business any number of times until the sound cue, their motion, and the light cue happen in exact synchronization.

Tech rehearsals often go on for eight to ten hours, sometimes for two days in a production of extreme complexity. Just as dancers and musicians have to get an action "into their bodies" so they can execute it without thinking, all of us have to internalize the timing, the feel of the rising light levels, and the speed with which a unit has to move on or off stage so that it all happens perfectly every time.

Our tech rehearsal begins at 1:00 pm tomorrow, so I'll have at least an hour together with several of the Boston-area gay bloggers at Hei La Moon in Chinatown for dim-sum. If anyone from Boston is reading this who did not hear of this event already, please come join us--we'll be seven or eight gay men enjoying what a young Chinese-American friend of mine calls "the golf balls of death" and other delicacies. This is the second gathering and I hope there'll be interest in having a lot more in future.

Anyway, my work schedule recently has been roughly 7:30 am to about 8:00 pm at MIT. In the early mornng I get into the theater to paint and keep working on the stage floor for a couple of hours. Then I head to our design/production building to upholster chairs, paint scenery, build drapes and make table linens, etc., fitting in teaching the occasional class and whatever administrative work is required at the moment. By Thursday of this week my brain was really fried and Friday was painful but I pushed through.

Dynamic Soprano Tracy Dahl

Friday night I had a ticket to Boston Lyric Opera's production of "Lucie de Lammermoor," the almost unknown French revision and translation made for Paris by Gaetano Donizetti from his smash hit "Lucia di Lammermoor." A night watching someone else's production was exactly what I needed. Canadian soprano Tracy Dahl, a petite butterball of intense nerveous energy in this role, sang with daring and finesse and got a huge reception. And hot, suave, shaven-headed and goateed French baritone Gaetan Laperriere can sing to me any time he wants, in any venue, anywhwere.

Immediately after the final curtain, I drove north to spend the night with Fritz. On paper it looked silly--I would drive for an hour or so to slip into bed with him around midnight, have an early breakfast with him and head right back down here, But it was immensely theraputic to be curled up around him for the night and to wake up with him holding me. And if I hadn't gone, given our schedules, we wouldn't have seen each other for almost two weeks which I just wasn't prepared to have happen.

Update: in the latest poll, Bush's approval rating has dropped to 37%; those who "strongly disapprove" are now up to 42% and and the remainder disapprove to some lesser extent or are numb in expectation of what heating their homes will cost this winter.

Here in Boston, two conflicting reports are circulating in the media: NSTAR, one of our major electric and natural gas suppliers, has a public service announcement on the radio claiming that 67% of our natural gas need was purchased or is under contract, at pre-hurricane prices. There will be no shortage, they claim. Simultaneously, WBZ radio news reports that several of our electric power plants are natural gas-fired, that there is not going to be enough, that serious conservation is necessary and that rolling blackouts for both business and residential customers will be probable throughout the heating season.

One surely can't have it both ways.

I've seen the "black" plays of Jean Anouilh like "Euridice" and "Antigone" but "Leocadia" I've never seen, it's a pity for I like his work ... what's the content?

I wish you good rehearsals! Keep calm and serene :-)

Thank you, Hans. Serenity is a good virtue to have in the theater! "Leocadia" is a lovely romantic comedy with a touch of existentialism. It also features a theme common in several of Anouilh's plays: the older, worldly and prominent woman who takes a beautiful young girl under her protection and prepares her for a better life than she would otherwise have. And it is very, very French.
"Lucia di Lammermoor" that the one with the famous "mad aria"?
Yes, Jason. Insanity was an obsession in the 19th century on stage, just like suicide in the wake of Goethe's "Sorrows of Young Werther." There are any number of Mad Scenes in Italian, French, Russian and other operas, but the Lucia/Lucie Mad Scene is the grandmama of them all.
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