Friday, May 22, 2009

Alice Through the Looking Glass

My thoughts recently have been heavily on the experience of the artists performing opera. Being a director is extremely rewarding, it is a chance to allow the human imagination to run wild. It is also safe emotionally, we get to ask singers to do things we ourselves never have to do, and sometimes we forget what that experience is like. I go out on a limb saying that it is something unique to singers, more than even instrumentalists and actors.

One of the scenes I'm directing here is from Dvorak's "Rusalka", a piece of epic emotional power, and I am thrilled to get a wack at the end of Act II. The scene begins with an aria for Rusalka's father, continues through Rusalka's dramatic second act aria, and ends with the Prince and Princess' duet and the rejection both of Rusalka and the Prince. It is heavy stuff, and I have developed a concept that is even heavier. My four young singers are excellent. Even more, they are brave to go to these places with me, to explore some of humanities darker elements. It is scarey for them.

The other evening in rehearsal, my wonder Rusalka was giving a drop-dead performance, and collapsed during the area sobbing and unable to go on. It was a profound moment. I often talk to the singers about needing to go to far in order to know the right place to play the scene and still be safe. Well, she did, and I was very proud of her. Later, in an email, she told me that she has been lately working on opening up the physical mechanism of the voice, releasing tension. That, she said, has also left her open emotionally, and singing this scene with the concept I have asked for became too much. It is a beautiful and true idea that we sometimes forget, this profound connection for singers between their instrument and their psychology. I am honored to work with such a group of talented and committed young artists. I helps to remind as all why we do this.

1 comment:

123 123 said...

Cool story you got here. I'd like to read a bit more about this theme. Thank you for giving that info.
Joan Stepsen
Wise geek