Monday, January 17, 2011

Never let them see you sweat

Houston Grand Opera Chief Financial Officer Rauli Garcia gets a taste of stage life as an actor in Dead Man Walking
I arrived a little early to a new kind of chaos. Some new cast members had arrived …  I asked a super who they were: “the superstars, man,” he said. The principal singers were joining us. It was really cool to see that they looked like anyone else while off the stage. I’m not sure if I expected anything different, they were just hanging out. I also learned that the other supers who I thought were actors were just normal people like me. They work full-time jobs, and then come to Houston Grand Opera in the evening. They do it because they love opera or the stage life, and this is a good way to be involved. 

Artists arrive for the biggest rehearsal yet.

I went to the far side of the room to watch as people began to file in. The men’s chorus, children’s chorus, supers, musicians, singers, stage mangers, and the production team arrived in droves. I had never seen so many people in that space before.
We began to go through the first act. It was amazing to hear it so closely. It was loud, in a good way. The voices of the principal singers were magnificent.  I have heard Joyce DiDonato on stage, but hearing her up-close was much more intense. This is an emotional opera to begin with, and the singers look like they are really feeling the emotions as they rehearse. 

Later, we went through the scene that we had practiced with the entire group. The one with the synchronized steps (“Left, right, left, right …”). It became even more complicated when we added the chorus and singers. The music was so loud that I couldn’t hear the cue to begin my march. I was late, which made the other supers late, which made me nervous. We continued through much of the act. 

At the next rehearsal, the supers were called with just the principal singers and the men’s chorus.  We went through several scenes, and in my mind, I focused on the scene I have been concerned about: the marching scene. We went through it several times. Each time, someone was off. I felt like usually it was me, and I was missing the cue. I was starting to sweat! This time there were more singers, and more people marching, and yes, more complexity. I offered to step out of that scene, so far, I’m still there.
Isn’t there a way for me to put this into a spreadsheet?!?  That would solve everything.

A note about the patience I see in the rehearsal room.  Maestro Patrick Summers, HGO Music Director and the conductor of Dead Man Walking and Leonard Foglia, the show’s director, show boundless patience while putting the opera together. The process is very detailed. There are many pauses in the rehearsal process. Stage Management yells, “Hold Please!” and everyone stops. Then Patrick or Lenny ask for small changes to be made, we back up a few moments, and start over again. It happens over and over as they tweak and adjust the production into alignment with their vision. 
I, for my part, will keep my head down and continue do what I’m told.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rauli:

If you ever need a good singer, let me know.....
I am super glad you're with HGO !! It is a great organization....all I need is for you to get me close to Ana Maria Martínez !! Haha!! Actually I met her before and her Mom ( Vangie Colon )is a good friend from my singing days in Puerto Rico... In the meantime, I'm serious, if they need a good Basso for the chorus, call me.... Tito

Rosemary said...

Great job during the "dress"!