Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Gianni Schicchi Diary pt. 3

 Opera Project Columbus
Gianni Schicchi
June 15 and 16
see opera project columbus dot com 

We had a three day weekend. A surfeit of Reese's cups had me bound up and crabby, but I was rejuvenated
by the time rehearsal rolled around last night. We were at St. Marks church in the choir room, very nice with rather skimpy air conditioning. Oh, well. Beggars can't be choosers.

 I needed an emotional pick up today and speaking of Puccini:

 Moffo. What a beauty. A diva of my youth. She died in 2006 after a number of bad years career wise. When it as beautiful it was very beautiful.

 There's another opera production in business locally. That's a good thing. My old mentor Sarah Caldwell at the Opera Co.of  Boston wasn't the least bothered by neighboring college productions and a week long visit from the Met. "The more opera, the better." I agree but I haven't Sarah's gifts.

Rehearsing with many cast
Sarah Caldwell
members missing is  a challenge. Not so much for me but for the people on the stage. Remember once the show goes up I revert to my favorite position, hoping our hosts in the Jewish Center won't mind my putting my feet up.

Elvira Puccini
No notary and no Gubbio yet. Meaning it was quite tricky to stage mini processional on to the stage for Gianni/Buoso to dictate his will.  I and another fellow participated with our Pinellocchio, God bless him who comes a distance and never misses rehearsal. Still, we were crowded. I have them working in a (I hope please God) smaller space that we'll have deliberately. (You'd rather have too much booze than too little at Grampie's wake). Spinelloccio can only come late and since he's in part one only and we're working on part two.....well, I'm going to have to continue to adjust. god is good. So is zoloft..
Back to the other opera in town. Several of my key people are involved. What can I do? I'm the last one who would tell them to give up a paying gig.

Our baritone sings well and has the rare gift of singing with enough joy to enchant any audience. Many of the other singers are well prepared and fun. Some need work. I've been asked to save time in staging rehearsals for some  music touch ups. Withal, we've staged the whole thing, now its fine tuning, a few changes and eventually complete runs. Since there's so much physical action I need the singers to develop  muscle memory so their singing is not affected. I have asked for a brief meeting in the venue with as many as can attend.Even if a few show up, if they see the actual space it may offer better perspective.

Puccini by Mary-Jane Philips Matz
And how many directors do YOU know who send out a prop list for spoons, forks, dishes, a night cap and long johns? Take THAT Franco Zeffirelli!

I've been re- reading Mary Jane Philips- Matz's biography of Puccini. Her Verdi bio is the book of choice. No one in recent times has better documented this great composer. Puccini is a more friendly read and less scholarly. Matz makes good use of several very elderly people she met years ago who knew the composer. I wanted to interview her and mailed and e mailed and called and a week later read her obituary in the New York Times. She was pushing ninety. No one who loves Verdi or Puccini should miss her books. 

Puccini loved fast cars, women and hunting. He was quite the ladies man. His first serious girlfriend was the wife of another man. She and Puccini had a child together-scandalo!-and composer rued the day he took up with Elvira. Batshit crazy the lady was.

Hmmm. Maybe I can turn Ciesca or Nella into Elvira Gemignani Puccini. Scary!

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