Marcel Duchamp said that the audience completes the work, and we got a taste of how our work would be completed with our invited dress rehearsal. We had about 100 people attend the rehearsal, and watching the audience interact with the production was an enormous joy–mostly because watching the audience is a significant part of the experience from every angle of the show. Whether you’re walking or seated, the rest of the audience is part of the performance in this configuration, and I love what that does for the audience’s engagement with the work.

My pictures of the audience are not particularly good but here’s Olga Koumoundouros’s Dive Bar in its proper state at last: populated by audience!

I was particularly encouraged by how exciting it was to be on the Pedestrian Pathway. I absolutely loved the ability to walk freely through the space as the performance happened and see the action from constantly different perspectives, leaning against the wall, passing my fellow audience members, catching a bit of action that is not the “main focus,” and so on. This walking path was in some ways one of the biggest experiments in a process full of experiments–and yet I think it’s a real success.

Here’s a shot of the team behind the Dive Bar: Anne, Olga, Timur, and me, courtesy of Dana Ross:

Opening night is finally here!

Among Erin Thompson’s many brilliant contributions to the show, maybe none of them were as dead-on and necessary as the frozen treats she brought for all of us yesterday. It was right up there with Ivy’s Margarita Mondays (which became Tequila Tuesdays):

For the penultimate rehearsal, I sat in the Skybox, which I think is really a spectacular place to see the show. Right from the beginning you have tenor Jonathan Mack ascend to your level for his aria to the sunset:

I also loved the ability to see so much of the world splayed out in front of you and watch the intersecting lines of the cast’s choreography through the space. What you can’t quite see is very satisfyingly filled in via video monitor.

Scott Timberg for The Los Angeles Times printed a fantastic feature story with a lot of pictures. I really love that he sees one of my values as “instability,” which to me might be equated with a sense of “potentiality,” “openness,” and eschewing of fixed values. That is indeed of tantamount importance to this project and to what I believe in for opera (and, for that matter, life) in general, so I’m glad he picked up on it.

I think I speak for everyone when I say: it’s all sinking in that there is only one rehearsal left!

We all spent Monday getting finishing touches in place to make the warehouse feel more like a performance space for Thursday’s opening, so the photographs are not particularly compelling…Luckily, Timur asked his friend, photographer Dana Ross, to stop by on Sunday, and he took some fantastic pictures:

Another run of Crescent City and things keep improving piece by piece. Today I dedicated myself to the seats between the Dive Bar and the Good Man’s Shack and had the following fantastic views:

We also did some shooting of the Loa for their big scene:

And started putting the musicians into the space:

Hyperopera!

In the swirl of activity surrounding our first orchestra dress rehearsal, in which we pulled off an entire run of the opera with very few stops, we weren’t able to take too many photographs, but a few are offered here.

For these last few rehearsals, I’ve decided to dedicate my view to one fixed seat to see how audience members on one side of the warehouse will experience the show from beginning to end. It was actually refreshing to have only one point of view after moving around so much over the course of previous rehearsals. The good news for me was that having one perspective never felt like I was missing part of the show, even when something was happening out of sight. This is in large part due to Jason Thompson’s fantastic work with video design, with robotic and hand-held cameras roving around the space, offering surprising and disorienting views of the action as it happens.

From the seats on the west side of the warehouse–that is, between the cemetery and the Junk Heap–you get a kind of epic view down the crossroads, and all the processions and parades I’ve staged throughout the opera look incredibly powerful, like the line in the libretto: “Roads to nowhere leading nowhere…”

Today’s tech was about one of the more challenging scenes in the libretto: the ghosts flee the cemetery as they hear a new hurricane is coming, one will really wipe Crescent City off the map. Marie Laveau gets this information from a Bound Ghost, who informs her: “All the baddest ghosts are out for blood. Please let me stay dead: I can’t live through another flood!”

I’m excited about how this will be portrayed in the production but don’t want to give it away, as I think the surprise element is crucial, but I’ll offer these pictures as a hint. (I’ll also say that our conductor makes a phenomenal cameo in this as well…)

Appropriately for a day about ghosts, Martin Gimenez and Ryan Ainsworth spent the afternoon in “quiet time,” ringing out the space so the amplification will be as pristine as possible.

Today we rehearsed two of the principal voodoo possession scenes, which seemed like a fitting first day to introduce the chromelodeon, Harry Partch’s amazing pump organ, which Anne has used in her orchestration for Scene 11, and which resides in Olga’s Dive Bar.

The sounds inspired us to have add a few more voodoo possessions, namely at the top of Act II by our Reveler Stacia Hitt:

And we’re adding filmmaker to Maria Elena Altany and Timur Bekbosunov’s many talents…and challenges in this production!