Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Gianni Schicchi Diary pt. 7

Gilda Dalla Rizza (1892-1975)
 This is Gilda Della Rizza. She was one of Puccini's favorite sopranos. Known as a great beauty, she was a celebrated Tosca and Madama Butterfly. Puccini wrote the role of Magda in La rondine for her. Puccini was more interested in the Italian opening of Il trittico than in the Metropolitan Opera performances a few weeks earlier. La Dalla Rizza was Suor Angelica and Lauretta in the Italian premiere. She it was who made Suor Angelica a hit after it died onstage in New York. She gave quite the testy interview a few weeks before her death:

 "After coming in and standing silently, Lauretta must quickly establish her character in the midst of all the confusion, with Donati's family running around. She is no coy or modest well brought up Florentine girl, but a determined young woman. Her first phrase, "Rinuccio, non lasciami", Puccini wanted fairly loud so that it would be heard distinctly over the din of the action, but not overly so. To find just the right volume caused me much worry. 'You must let them know what you want with that first sentence',  Puccini kept saying."

Let me say at the outset: It was a long night. Monday was a long night and it seemed long. We were missing a few people. We're at the point that continued runs of the show without the Maestro don't have much point. Also, I'm going back to look at the theater tonight. I hope I'll be able to picture the staging in the actual performance stage, and begin adjusting accordingly.

I knew on my first visit to the JCC that the space would be problematic for staged opera with orchestra. The pit accommodates ten, not helpful with Puccini. I sheepishly suggested using piano but reminded tartly (and appropriately) that we are trying to grow and expand the company and the audience and a piano accompanied Italian opera is not the sway to go. That's correct. Point taken.

The entire auditorium has to be used. I've staged using deliberately a smaller on stage space than I expect to have. We are on the floor at the very foot of the sage. In the two aisles, even scrounging through the audience looking for the testamento. I'm trying to avoid line-ups. Hell, the Met does line ups but I'm trying to at least do triangles with the occasional parallelogram.

Gianni wore his costume last night--snappy black number with a cap on OSU shorts. Lovely. The MAestro does't easnt him bare legged. He won't be. I still want him to wear adoavle underpants -for when the ladies strip and re dress him as Buoso,.

Ah, the Maestro. He spent 20 minutes on one word. The young woman was far more patient that I ever would have been. She probably realized that in this seemingly endless coaching, the character emerged-with the turn of one word. Likewise a number of our signers were getting pissy. This was a micro-rehearsal by a native  Italian speaker who has known Puccini's operas since he was ten. I thought one of the guys was going to deck him. The stops were quite long. But even the feistiest fella, after a few repeats began to show the character in his face. I saw people become Betto, Simone, Zita, Lauretta und so weiter .

Our Spinelocchio hadn't been doing much. The Maestro took hold of him like a hungry puppy. AH! I want you to do this bolongnese! He demonstrated a whistle-y diction and our Spino mastered it-and a tall young man became a grimy, elderly doctor.

So yes, it was long, hot and maybe annoying. You won't gt this kind of detailed rehearsal many places. You;'ll be thrown on and told to get the hell off. I learned how important the language is, how crucial it is to investigate alternate meanings (sub- text). I know enough to establish characterizations and give moves, blocking. The Maestro knows how to get those characters to live.

I'll try to bring a muffin basket. Let's all drink extra coffee, take an extra potty break or two and gear up for the final run of rehearsals. Deliziosa. 

No comments: