Monday, June 15, 2015

Opera Project Columbus Cavalleria Rusticana Rehearsal Diary Second Entry

June 15, 2015

Saturday I met the chorus for the first time. Thirty people sounded like eighty. After a couple of rehearsals these good people made a terrific sound. Their singing got my juices going. Good thing too, because the choral conductor thinks I'm nasty and it got very hot indeed-weather wise-in the rehearsal room., The choral director is a sweet guy and very talented. I told the assembled, Don't listen to him. I'm the nicest goddamn SOB that ever lived.

photo: Ken Snow
The rehearsal space hampered completely spreading
 the chorus out enough to do proper entrances and exits. They were game, and we approximated as best we could. I soaked up their sound with joy.
The principals had a photo shoot in the sanctuary of the large church where we were rehearsing. I had a peek upstairs. What a beautiful sanctuary! All old wood. Linda told me her grandmother used to take her to this church. It's a beauty.

Back to the staging. I assigned 'spouses'. I sounded like Judge Judy. YOU ahhhr married to HUH! I said The fellas don't want to go to church. They want to sit in Mama's Cafe, play cards, drink and gossip. Most of all the want to be senza spose. Just for a bit. Remember Sunday is the only day of rest. And yes, I will work on the chorus having specific identities. I gave them motivations they seemed to enjoy. The aforesaid for the men. For the women, though they are in church, its a "morning off" for them as well. Remember the church and the plaza are the two meeting places for neighbors who live miles from one another. For six and a half days every week you work dawn to dusk, you take care of children,you take care of men and nobody has much to say to anyone else. Save it for the piazza. Thus a sense of freedom. Libera me!

A note about church. The sense of religion is based more on superstition than true piety. We pray , we go to church, we try to believe because it is necessary culturally. Its like praying for rain. You do it when you need it, but would rather do it than be sorry you didn't.

We tried the choral staging in the sanctuary. I had my heart set on a procession that didn't work. It's musically tricky and the chorus couldn't see the maestro. The chorus is the center of this show.  This is a big ass choral opera. Le gente. The people. Everything that happens to the principals depends on a reaction from the chorus. Even the pivotal Santuzza-Turiddu duet, alone on stage, can be at least sensed by the chorus. Santuzza is an outcast for being pregnant. Turiddu dies for breaking the social codes. Alfio may be seen as a brute, but to his neighbors, he's right.

But I want to avoid oratorio for this!I don't want stand up and sing! You know what, he asked with too many exclamation points??!!?! The Regina coeli at least, IS stand up and sing.

You may ask, does the stage director feel like low man? Sometimes. I tell young singers you need to be pay careful attention to the words. They do. But in a big ensemble, the music must have pride of place. The music is the first element to touch an audience.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In bocca al lupo for the upcoming CAV in Columbus! Is there a site, page, or advertisement that lists everyone involved in the production?

By the way, it's 'Turiddu' (single R, double D: comes from Salvatore — Salvatorillo — Turiddu), and 'la gente' ('gente' in this case being a collective noun; in the case of populations, 'peoples', then one would use 'le genti').