(photos by me)
Yesterday two of my favorite friends of mine who happen to volunteer at LA Opera gave me the opportunity to join in volunteering with them at the final dress rehearsal of Tosca. Of course I was eager to do it: lack of time and transportation always prevented me from being able to volunteer before, and Tuesday’s dress rehearsal was very short, only partially staged, and didn’t feature the whole cast so I was happy to be able to see it more in its entirety. The event was made open to groups of high school students for community outreach and education purposes, and before the show there would be presentations by the director and the props master. My job was to ferry high school students to the elevators and make sure people didn’t wander off.
I attended the props presentation, which is always interesting. If I had the skills I could see theater tech being a fun job, and even if at this point in my life I’m not cut out for it I still find it fascinating. At the end of the presentation we were told to hold off leaving a bit since we were to expect a special surprise…that being, ultimately, Placido Domingo coming in and saying hello! He’s the conductor for Tosca, and this being a group of high schoolers he wanted to express his hope that this production, for many of the students their very first opera experience, would encourage them to see and hear the possibilities of the art. Naturally, he couldn’t help singing a little line or two. All of us volunteers in the back were geeking out a little bit.
The cast last night was wonderful, and I finally got to hear Sondra. Christ, that voice. I have recordings of hers and have listened to her on Youtube, but hearing in her in person is entirely different in the best of ways. She was apparently “under the weather” and marked a lot in the first and second acts, but really opened up gorgeously into full voice in Act II (where it matters most, really). Her singing is magnetic. I don’t know if ever someday I will have the dramatic tone quality voice for the kind of repertoire she sings, but she surely makes me hope that I will. But listening to her really is good enough. I’m hoping I can see it again sometime in the next couple of weeks.
This was also my first time seeing Tosca live and what can I say…there’s a reason this opera endures. I can’t really argue with that music.
I might be doing some more volunteer work on Saturday, we’ll see. Now that I’ve had the chance to do it I’m hoping that I can do the same at the opera house in Philadelphia. As ever, I can’t help mentioning how alive and nourished the classical music scene in Los Angeles is. We may not be considered by some a world capital (their folly), but we certainly are world class. I know I’m being spoiled out here and hope I continue to be in the big PA.
Last night a bunch of us from musical theater workshop were able to attend the orchestra dress rehearsal for LA Opera’s Tosca. The rehearsal ended up being very short, maybe an hour long, but I’m going to be at a second dress rehearsal tomorrow as a volunteer with a few of my friends! I’ll be excited to see more of the production.
A cover sang in place of Sondra last night…I wish we were told who the soprano was because she sounded great! I’m eager to hear Sondra sing the role, though.
I’ve been doing well practicing every day, though I observe that when I do practice every day there is an illusion of my progress plateauing. I really hope it’s just an illusion, or perhaps the freedom I now have in my house to sing whatever whenever isn’t causing me to overwork myself. Oh well! Before the dress rehearsal yesterday I tagged along with Maggie to her voice lesson with S. I was so happy to see her again, and since it seems that I will be in Los Angeles until the end of June I’m going to have lessons with her, too! Even if it means I will literally be unable to buy food for myself. I am determined.
We all know which one I’m talking about!
I’m sad because I have the house to myself now (yes, I’m officially living on my own as of today) and I lovingly moved the keyboard to a more inviting space so that I may use it at leisure. No more waiting until Dad goes out to do groceries or cook dinner to practice! I’m having a wonderful time just singing. I worked on my Bellini a little bit and it feels good, I just need to get it down pat.
But I was so looking forward to downloading and printing out a plethora of new songs to have fun and mess around with and…goodbye to that. Oh, Internet, you are fickle.
I’m going to the Tosca dress rehearsal tomorrow night at LA Opera! I’m excited to be going with my good friends. I can’t wait to see Sondra!
Nathan Gunn and Kelli O’Hara in the New York Philharmonic’s concert version of Carousel at Avery Fisher Hall, February 2013.
Photo by Chris Lee.
I try to warm up everyday and sing through at least a couple of pieces. Though I already feel a little rusty I can tell my voice is still working well. I can hit higher than an Ab again: I don’t mention this to unnecessarily draw attention to a frivolous aspect of vocal ability, rather to illustrate that what kept me from doing so for a while was all in my head. Psychology, can we ever escape you?
Next week one of the shorter terms at my CC starts. I won’t be attending, of course, but I will have access to the practice rooms if I feel compelled to use them, and very compelled I do feel.
Supposedly I should be in Los Angeles for a few more weeks. I hope to be able to visit with S at least once, though I’m not sure I’ll be able to have a lesson thanks to my current financial situation. I’m planning on going to the dress rehearsal for Tosca (with my new baritone suitor, how about a pat on the back for me?), which I am grateful for since I feared I wouldn’t be able to.
W gave me some new repertoire to being looking at last Friday. On the list there is “Reve d’Amour” by Faure (because there’s never enough Faure), “Gretchen am sprinnrade” (because we all have to experience it at least once, right?), and, for something completely different, “Ebben? Ne andro lontana” from La Wally (because I haven’t worked on an aria in months and I need a new “working piece”). To that I’m personally going to add “Malinconia, ninfa gentile” by Bellini since it is gorgeous and I finally feel I can make some progress with it.
Oh, the coming period of my life will be hectic, but it’s all for the best.
(Psst, I made a Facebook page for my photography if anyone is interested.)
…including professors you look up to.
Hopefully a nice day with Mr. Quiet Baritone tomorrow will press the reset button for me.
Leonard Bernstein under the marquee for “West Side Story” after the show’s opening at the National Theatre in Washington, D.C., 1957