In a few
short weeks, the constant activity upstairs in the Jubilee rehearsal hall
transforms into Offenbach’s dark fairytale, Les
By the time
it gets on stage, all the moving parts — stage managing, costume and makeup,
direction of the concept — will be neatly hidden behind the scenes, but for
now, it’s all on display as the opera comes together.
who are at the rehearsal hall day and night — literally, because some of the
most interesting social media content from rehearsal comes across the Internet
at ridiculous hours of the night — the process may seem a little more gradual.
those of us who commute from the admin offices at the Winspear Centre to the
rehearsal hall on a semi-regular basis, every other night or a few days a week
for a couple of hours, the changes are inspiring and exciting.
beginning of January, Edmonton Opera staff met the cast and creative team at
the airport as they arrived on a handful of flights. It was nice for both
parties — staff got a chance to talk to the artists when they weren’t busy with
rehearsal, and artists could ask questions about the city they’d be living in
for the next four weeks. Even things as simple as grocery stores, good radio
stations and arts spaces can be important.
rehearsals for both principals and chorus started by sitting in chairs and
singing the following Monday, those chairs weren’t for long. Two-thirds of the
rehearsal hall is now a duplicate of the Jubilee stage, complete with props; the
principals and chorus are learning staging, where to move, when to move and how
explaining things, director Joel Ivany will shadow the principals,
demonstrating where in the scene he wants more emphasis or an added gesture. He
also asks questions of the cast, about the feeling of a certain line or moment;
they reply and ask questions of their own.
onlookers, the process is really smart — since Antonia, the ailing singer,
doesn’t wear a watch, soprano Ileana Montalbetti removes the timepiece on her
left wrist. Alternatively, tenor Steven Cole arrives at rehearsal wearing
regular shoes, but sometime between then and stepping on the “stage” for his
scene, he’s replaced them with overly large, red clown shoes. It’s all part of
the character Frantz, who slumps with bad posture because, as Cole says here,
“My posture (for Frantz) kind of says, ‘He’s seen better days.’”
methodical approach applies to the chorus too: at one point, chorus members
have time to list, on paper, the backstory of their character(s); before
staging the epilogue Ivany talks through the principals’ parts for the chorus,
alternating the French libretto with English translation.
much can happen in the rehearsal hall, however, so some of the effects that
Ivany is imagining for the final scene — and explains to the chorus — won’t
happen until they move on to the Jube stage.
What is the
final, memorable scene? You’ll have to go to the circus to find out.
Photos courtesy Joel Ivany, Twitter (@joelivany)