Culture Magazine

When in Rome - Opera in Chicago

By Pinkall @pinkall
Finally!  It feels as if I have been waiting forever for all the gears to begin turning on this opera production.  The last several days have been quite relaxing...and for anyone who knows me at least a little bit would know how difficult this is for me.  I am a self-diagnosed work-a-holic.  As is normal with productions, we receive the next day's schedule a few hours before midnight, which would be horrible for my social life if I had one, but since all of my friends up here near the Windy City are in the opera, today's schedule graced us all.  I'm busy from 11am-10pm straight, with a few minutes free for meals...ah...(breathing a great healthy sigh)...I will have a fulfilled and happy soul tomorrow.  It will consist of a career coaching - that's probably a question and answer session with other professionals - and the first full musical run-through with the entire cast and we will stage the first numbers in the opera.
Up to this point, it frankly has been horrifically relaxing.  We have coachings and rehearsals, but then what?  My homestay is way out in a beautiful and quiet part of the country near a small town that actually had a locomotive coal powered passenger train pump through town.  Did I go back in time?  All the TV's in their house all change to the same channel, so whatever they want to watch, I have to watch it as well, even if I am using a different TV.  Unfortunately for me, it is stuck on the Hallmark Channel - Golden Girls marathon.  So, I haven't been watching TV.  The internet is only slightly better than dial-up.  (not to mention that the company has warned us not to drink the local tap water because it may be unsafe)  Besides these things, I'm certainly not the only one with stircraziness problems.  Many of us are over-workers who just can't seem to find a way to live at a slower pace.  So, us opera folk have figured out a few ways to enjoy our down time.
Most of the opera singers are actually staying in a rented house...a gigantic rented house.  The situation is very similar to any number of reality tv shows like Real World, Big Brother, or a much more tired and less tan version of Jersey Shore.  Perhaps it is like our own little Frat/Sorority House without hazing, toga parties, and anything mentioned in Animal House unfortunately.  Nevertheless, we did find a nearby bar/restaurant that has become a spot to relax after we are through, and don't forget McDonald's - they have free wifi for all of us that have internet unfriendly homestays.
As for the highlights of the last several days, I had another coaching.  It did not go so well, and I was a little embarrassed.  I usually pride myself in working my hardest all the time, and I was obsessively prepared for this program, the opera, and the special music for the opening night gala concert.  I'm not sure if there's an old adage about it, but demonstrating success is much more meaningful than appearing successful.  Because of my preparation, I have had almost no anxiety or stress, and consequently have been very confident.  But then there was this.
In addition to the Agony Duet and the Romeo and Juliet Duet to be performed for the gala concert, I was asked to perform a trio from A Little Night Music called "Soon" just a couple of days ago.  Well, I received the music only then, I have never heard it before. When I went in for the coaching, it was apparent that the director expected me to have the music already memorized.  Now, for those who don't know the song, it is freekin' tricky to memorize.  Well, they made me sing it until I memorized it in front of the director, coach, and the two other singers.  It was a little humiliating, but thanks to some great teachers in my undergrad and graduate days, I was able to memorize it in about 4 tries.  I'm not sure if they were impressed or upset about the whole thing, but I definitely learned about their expectations very quickly.  If I had known beforehand, I definitely would have had the piece memorized before the coaching.

At some point I will talk about learning French, but that has comprised most of our chorus rehearsals to this point.  Many of the vowels in French are unique (and ugly) but we have been doing incredibly well in this area in my opinion.  This is one of the funnest and certainly the most musically talented group of singers that I have ever been able to sing with before.  It is quite spectacular.
As I mentioned we have been very stir crazy, so we should we do?....  (a higher quality video be available later tonight, when I have better internet)
I have witnessed some beautiful things out here in Illinois - some of the most beautiful natural sights that I have ever seen in my life, very honestly - and many of the others out here have said and witnessed the same.  I just have to mention yet another odd but fascinating thing being out here on a farm.  With the hundreds of wind turbines in the middle of many acres of corn, a bright yellow bi-wing crop duster was flying within a few feet of the ground and making high arcing loops up and around and between all of the turbines.  It was something spectacular, first because it appears incredibly difficult, and second because the turbines were so tall that it made the plane seem like a toy or a fly or better yet, a swallow eating mosquitoes - flying low to the ground and swooping back up before making another dive.
July 20-August 7 - Sugar Creek Opera - Daughter of the Regiment - August 4, 5, 7 - Watseka, IL (near Chicago)August 8 - Audition - Kansas City Symphony Chorus

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