Archive for the ‘Musical Rehearsals’ Category

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!

“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:

Marc Lowenstein has been running a tight ship at the Kasimoff-Blüthner Piano Co.  and yesterday afternoon we got to hear the fantastic results: a full run-thru of the opera. It was all of our first time hearing the piece as a whole, and it was quite overwhelming, mostly because I could see that we have assembled a dream cast: every single one of them exceeded my hopes for this piece, and them as a group is part of what makes this project so very exciting:

Tenor Jonathan Mack asked me, “I’m curious to see how you’re going to do some of this.” My response: “Me too!” Because if I knew, we wouldn’t really need a rehearsal process, now would we? But the play-thru was a great way to start visualizing the opera with our installation getting closer to completion, and I drew a few schemas for rehearsal during the musical run, which I’m sharing here if no one holds me to actually fulfilling this:

Today was a bit of a “day off” from building in the space after a few good days, so I spent most of it drumming up support for the last leg of our Kickstarter campaign. We were all thrilled at about 2:00pm when we tipped over into a funded project, thanks to the help and generosity of over 130 individuals. This is a project that thrives by the belief of the community at large, so it is thrilling and humbling to see so many people pitch in to help us build this city.

The whole idea of Kickstarter is really a brilliant one: setting a goal, setting a time in which it must be completed by, and then meeting that goal anyway possible. It’s kind of a microcosm of the show at large, and even last week, when it felt like we were so far away from our $15,000 goal, the perseverance it takes to really meet your goals pays off. It did feel like a mini-marathon race, and Laura Kay Swanson, Associate Producer Rachel Scandling and I are adding the “Chariots of Fire” theme to our Crescent City mix tape to give a sense of what it felt like.

Marc Lowenstein continued rehearsing the singers in the beautiful Kasimoff-Blüthner Piano Co. Showroom, and on the docket today was Scene 14, the Judgement at the Swamp. This was one of the trickiest scenes to get right for Anne, as its the climactic moment when the voodoo gods announce whether Crescent City will be saved, and I think Anne has nailed it. I tried giving the singers a bit of a heads-up for what is in store: how they will be singing within Alice Könitz’s beautiful trees, as Marie Laveau floats down the swamp on a canoe. But I don’t want to give all of the surprises away…even to them!

Today’s focus was Mason Cooley‘s gorgeous Good Man’s Shack, which was fabricated by Studio Sereno with the TLC of Jeff Kleeman, Technical Director of Los Angeles Opera, and Teresia Rose Kleeman. We all pitched in to literally raise the roof of this fantastic sculpture:

Things are starting to get HUGE, with four of the six installations well under way:

And meanwhile further West, conductor Marc Lowenstein got Gwendolyn Brown and tenor Jonathan Mack going with their fantastic scene in the middle of the opera. The roof-raising kept me from spending too much time with these great artists…but I know we will have plenty of time still to come! We were once again invited to rehearse in the lovely Kasimoff-Blüthner Piano Co. Showroom on Larchmont.

The idea of parallel rehearsals happening at the same time is a bit of a burden on little César (the name of my little Mini Cooper that gets me around town) but is adding to the whirlwind nature of putting this massive show together. And the idea of separate simultaneous activity is closely connected to what the show will ultimately feel like in performance, so in a way it’s all one giant rehearsal for the big event.

Another day closer to May 10!