Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Peas in a pod

So, most of the last several days have been spent copying DVDs of "Messiah" (remember we did a workshop performance in August). These DVDs have to ship out to the cast so that they can review what we did over the summer. At the same time I am tweaking the production. One nice thing about doing work so long ago is that at its premier, "Messiah" will basically have the refinement of a revival. There are still details to be worked out that we didn't even consider this summer, namely costumes and sets. This production will look less like a "production" than any other AOT piece (make no mistake, it is fully staged, but part of the aesthetic is to avoid versimilitude), but that doesn't mean that the decisions of costumes aren't all intentional. It becomes a real tricky game when making choices that reflect character, while at the same time looking completely unworthy of notice. It is subtle work and I enjoy it.

A lot of the past week has been spent getting information to our publicist. We have engaged a really fantastic publicist that is mainly working on "David et Jonathas", but also doing some work on "Messiah". Putting together the information for her to create press-kits has been harder work than you would imagine. One of the most revealing moments was sending details on all AOT productions (from back when we were called Ignoti Dei). How far we have come, but how wonderful to see just how many of our singers are still with us from those first productions. This is important to me. Now, to be fair, we got lucky in that even when we were performing in a church basement, we had singers that would grow into great artists. I'm not sure keeping them all would have been possible had that not been the case. Still, I rejoice in the fact that we are a company. There is real chemisty between many of these singers. When we begin work on a new project it is a group of friends that know each other as artists and as people. These singing actors can anticipate each other musically and dramatically. I am very proud of this. It is something rare today and it goes to the core of AOT's identity. Big name singers, with "appropriate" billing, can lead to great musical moments, and with LOTS of time some chemistry can be manifactured. But, a theater production is about more than this. It is the sum of the parts. Those parts can be immense and combine to make saddly insufficient sums (a visit to many a large company in the DC area, no names, illustrates that). The reverse is also true. Parts that are in and of themselves not household names, can combine, with careful selection and guidance, into immense sums. We at AOT bank and succeed on this philosophy.

One final note for today. My good friend Bernard Gordillo records podcasts for WFIU's national radio program "Harmonia" that looks at early music (same on WETA and WBJC for not carrying this...not surprised though). Bernard's podcasts track new early music recordings and it would be a great way for those of you music lovers to keep an eye on what recordings might be worth investing in. You can find it here.

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