Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Young Artist Rehearses with Falstaff Cast
When tenor Alex Mansoori was offered a spot in the Young Artists Program for his second season, he was also asked to study the role of Falstaff’s Dr. Caius. Someone was needed to stand in for our Caius, Doug Jones, during the first week of rehearsal—which Alex did a few weeks ago.
“Falstaff is a huge ensemble piece, and it’s quite difficult, both musically and dramatically," Alex said. "When one of the ten singers isn’t there, it can be tricky. It’s easier to have someone to stand in for that performer so that the other singers have someone to play the scene with.”
When asked to stand in for Jones, Dr. Caius wasn’t yet a role in Alex’s repertoire, so he spent the past year preparing. First step: translating the entire score and listening to other performances. Then came “sitting down at the piano and plunking out my part and putting it into my head,” followed by numerous vocal coaching sessions. But what’s Alex’s favorite—albeit slightly unusual—way to prepare? “One of my secrets to learning a role is taking my iPod and the score to the gym. I hop on the elliptical and just listen and follow along. It typically garners a few odd looks.”
His time in Falstaff rehearsals, although brief, was “a tremendous amount of fun and a wonderful education,” he said. Director Peter Kazaras has staged this production before, so he generally knows how he wants everything to work, said Alex. “But at the same time he allows the singers to be inventive and wants them to bring their own ideas to the table. And the opera is a comedy, so when you’re not onstage, you get to sit back and enjoy the humor.”
For an opera star-in-training like Alex, an opportunity to rehearse with mainstage singers is a great learning experience. “Getting to work with established singers is one of the best ways a Young Artist can learn the craft. And it’s a fantastic cast. I was constantly taking mental notes on stagecraft—how to keep your body open, how to make big choices that will read to the back of the house. And working with these people made me meet them at their level.”
Alex is back with the Young Artists now, performing as Loge/Mime in Siegfried in the Ring of Fire. And you can catch him this spring as The Dancing Master/Brighella in the Young Artists’ Ariadne auf Naxos.
Photos: Alex with Peter Rose (Falstaff) and Steven Goldstein (Bardolph); Alex with Steven Goldstein. Both photos © Aubrey Bergauer. Alex performing Siegfried and the Ring of Fire with students at Lawton Elementary School. © Justina Schwartz photo.