Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Gianni Schicchi Diary pt. 11

I must admit last night had me nervous. It was the first rehearsal with orchestra. With the band on stage, would the singers even be heard? Would the Maestro freak that the staging doesn't keep in line line of the singer's vision?

No worries. All sounded great. The reduced orchestration is fine for the hall. I'm still moved when in the midst of the yammer Puccini cushions all with the magnificent 'babbino caro' melody, and I was thrilled hearing it last night. One thing I'm grateful for. The music I loved fifty years ago I love still, and it always sounds new and wonderful to me.  When you work up close and personal with any music you thought
 you knew so well, you always get to hear and learn new things. The Maestro discussing context has me realizing once and for all that fine composers always put stage directions in the music. In the music.
I never knew what singers like Domingo and Caballe meant when they insisted that stage directions are in the score. Now I know better. The old words v. music argument is baloney. They work together. One does not function without the other--obviously--but when you really listen for this fusion the score tells you what to do.

Met with the lighting designer last night. Previously when I'd ask for lighting I'd be told you want 'em on or off? Not here. This fella has lit GS before and has often worked in our space. His knowledge and manner were very re- assuring.

La Scala, Milan-full house. If they can do it so can OPC
Tonight is the last time I'll be able to impose changes in staging (Ethel Merman used to day, Call me Miss Birdseye, honey. I'm frozen in.) The family will wait in the front of house and begin moaning and wailing there. Gherardino will fetch them as before. (He's the only one of us all who can really run!) I want the cast to be onstage-apron is fine-at the first 'Povero Buoso!" Gherardino and Rinuccio will fetch the Notary, Gubbio and Pinellino. The front and center entrance I wanted won't work now. They will walk straight back of stage and swing down to the table. Rino will  usher them forth!


For the very top of the show. The Maestro will enter and bow. Before the downbeat, Nella,  Gherardo, Gherardino will come in form stage right...Gherardo will be carrying a huge bunch of flowers (you saw them last night-wonderfully hideous) They will go over to kiss Buoso and realize he's dead. Then the pantomime and sending Gheardino out. Gherardino's exit is the downbeat.)

(It's been a rough week. A dear friend died of cancer on Monday. The next day another phoned to say she's just been diagnosed. A third friend has been struggling with cancer for the past year. I'm grateful to be surrounded by Puccini and all this excellence even while texts messages beep in from hospitals. )

He may just buy a seat to Gianni Schicchi
I have no idea about ticket sales. I prefer not to know. I have enough to worry about. But with all the fine musicianship in this town it would be shame not to have two filled houses. During all the CSO troubles a few years ago I went on air and said-me being me-that the audience has a responsibility, too. It's fine to say "Oh, yes, it's great to have a _____(symphony, opera, ballet, chamber orchestra, museum, fill in the blank)" but bottoms in seats and drachmas spent at the box office are better than lip service.
It's long been my experience that rehearsals seldom yield believable performances. But once the curtain goes up, the characters are there to savor. I've never seen a strike out in this respect, and I won't now. And I have a new job back stage with a walkie-talkie, shortening my life!

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