Saturday, March 19, 2011
However, everything else is new. The Auditorium (above) features excellent sight lines for its 309 seats, ditto for the acoustics. There are brand new rehearsal rooms, backstage areas, etc. The set on stage is not for our opera, but for Kurt Weill's One Touch of Venus that was in technical rehearsals on the day I visited.
There's still no actual loading dock or freight elevator for loading in scenery, costumes, etc. The Conservatory exists on a very crowded block with a narrow alley for access to the rear of the building. Everything comes in the front door and goes up to theater level in either the standard passenger elevator or is carried up the stair wells by hand. Fortunately, the design I've worked out with the director consists of small mobile units that can be assembled on stage once their component parts have been loaded in.
We will have very limited technical set-up and rehearsal time in the theater before dress rehearsal and the performances. I'll be working with the light hang for the dance production that immediately precedes us in the space, refocusing lighting instruments and changing color filters as necessary for our needs. Fortunately we have only one special lighting effect. There will probably be a fair number of light cues, however, as there are a number of scenes in the opera with transitional action between them.
I will start construction this coming week. Next Friday we meet at the costume designer's studio and we get to meet soprano Barbara Kilduff, who portrays Isabella Stewart Gardner, to work out the various costume changes, some of which actually occur on stage during the action.
I'm twelve days away from the beginning of a two day symposium on French Opera that I'm giving at Greenfield Community College in north-central Massachusetts. French opera has always been a favorite of mine, as I grew up with the language at home. I had always known that opera was used by the French royal court to demonstrate the power of the nation via politically charged spectacle. But in researching the origins of the French school of opera, I discovered that Kings Henri IV, Louis XIII, Louis XIV and many of the major noblemen of their eras were accomplished dancers who appeared on stage, generally as gods from ancient mythology or other characters important to the theme of the opera and/or flattering to them personally.
In our case it's all sweat equity -- hauling the sap to the evaporator and gathering and cutting firewood for the boiler. But the rewards are just tremendous!
I love reading about the progress of your original opera.
I get strangly turned on by this talk of Fritz's tapping & sap pouring...