Archive for April, 2012

The orchestra and the singers came together for the first official time yesterday to play through the entire opera from about where they will be in performances: the orchestra in the loft and the singers among the installations. It was the first time for all of us to hear it together, and Marc did an incredible job keeping it all together under extremely challenging circumstances:  singers scattered all over the place with no direct eye contact with the conductor; lots of electronica; brand-new and at times fiendishly difficult music that has only had three previous rehearsals; and a first integration of amplification. We all had our first opportunity to hear what the sound reinforcement would be through Martin Gimenez’s design. His system has a lot of power and a great ability to create surround effects, which will be great when we get to the wild electronic numbers, but the space also has a presence and intimacy that allows us not to lose the acoustic beauty of the natural voices.

The scenario is nonetheless a bit of a composer’s nightmare, since the perception of sound is radically different depending on where you are in the world of Crescent City. So Anne was listening all around, and amazingly always seemed to have a smile on her face!


Gwen requested we add “Don’t Rock the Boat” to the CRESCENT CITY playlist after we rehearsed the climactic “Judgement at the Swamp” scene. I would do so if I knew who sang it…and in any case, Gwen treated us to a beautiful rendition of it while she floated along.

I really don’t want to give too much away from the imagery of this scene but offer a few little tidbits from our rehearsal:

We also incorporated Jordann Baker’s stilt-walking skills:

And a first glimpse at Timur Bekbosunov’s Deadly Belle costume by Ivy Chou, complete with 7″ heels (another kind of stilts!):

A great orchestra rehearsal through the entire opera and our first staging of the swamp–complete with wigs and masks–made yesterday a very exciting day for Crescent City. Now seems like a good time to share some of the great photographs Asher Kelman has been taking of the process, ever since right before we moved into the space:


The climactic scene of CRESCENT CITY involves a boat floating over Alice Könitz’s Swamp. We’re almost ready to start rehearsing that scene, and Eric Nolfo has made enormous strides towards us getting there:

We kept working away at reviewing and continuing to refine scenes, and Elizabeth is right there to keep layering in lighting:


“For the first time ever, I have a gravitational advantage on the singers!” Conductor Marc Lowenstein began his orchestral rehearsals from the loft at Crescent City, with 18 amazing players:

It seems like every day we add a significant new layer to the experience of Crescent City, but the orchestra adds a myriad of new colors to the world of the opera.

In rehearsal with the Revelers, we added a River of Death into Crescent City that Baron Samedi will navigate expertly:

And planned the “catastrophe” scene with The Revelers’ attacking the Good Man:

The visual artists have been making significant progress on their installations, and every new element they complete makes the space feel more and more astonishing. Their work is moving hand-in-hand with the performer’s development: they each get more and more confident, more nuanced, and more open with each rehearsal. Brianna Gorton installed her illuminating columns, which gives fantastic dimension to the cemetery when viewed in a constantly shifting perspective:

Olga Koumoundouros completed her spectacular chandelier for the Dive Bar:

Mason Cooley’s Shack has a jaw-dropping oragami-like roof:

Jeff Kopp diligently continues to add to the Hospital, and Alice Könitz’s swamp is taking beautiful shape, with a series of mirrored plexiglass towers creating an unbelievable landscape for the Swamp.

The total effect of all this great work is nothing short of incredible, and the singers and I are having an amazing time exploring this world:

A day off from rehearsal meant a good chance to catch up with everything else that needs to happen to prepare for performances, and for the artists to have a full uninterrupted day to get ahead on their installations. In addition to helping all six artists, technical director Eric Nolfo also put in place our Skybox platform, where 16 people per night will be able to have a bird’s eye view of the opera. This is an example of what you might see:

The big white screen you see at the back is a video screen, where live video feed will fill you in on what is just out of sight from your seat. They will be on all four walls and will include supertitles. Every seat is its own unique experience of Crescent City, but I think the elevated look will be especially fascinating.