Monday, December 14, 2009

The First Day of Rehearsal - One of the Busiest Days of the Year

Today is the first day of rehearsal for our next production to take the stage, Verdi's Il Trovatore. On the blog to tell us about the hustle-bustle that ensues is Assistant Stage Manager Ginger Castleberry.


One of the busiest days for the Seattle Opera Stage Managers is the first day of rehearsal. The cast of Trovatore includes a lot of familiar faces but also a few singers we haven’t met. The Artist Aide buffet, a casual event hosted by our volunteer drivers, provides an opportunity for informal introductions over lunch before we begin the official rehearsal day.

Before the singers arrive, we attend Prop and Costume Viewings with the director and the production staff who walk through each detail of the show. This session gives the director a chance to ask questions or share ideas. On Trovatore I’m the Assistant Stage Manager in charge of costumes. Every veil, hanky and piece of jewelry is tracked through the opera, so we make sure to keep it all straight. I’m also looking to find out how things work – Can a performer take his jacket off, or is it built to stay on? Is that veil attached to the wig? Can she kneel in that skirt? We also keep track of how long each singer is offstage to change costumes – if they need to make a costume change in two minutes instead of twenty, the costume shop can rig all sorts of tricks to make getting in and out of the costume faster. In Trovatore, the Men’s Chorus alone changes costumes four times!

Some of the ladies in Trovatore wear costumes that include long veils. I try to think about the costumes from each artist's perspective – what would it feel like to wear that? What could go wrong that we can help avoid? Not only is it easy to trip on a long veil, but we don’t want to find out that the fabric is too thick and they can’t see Maestro conducting!

After the Artist Aide Buffet and the Costume Viewing, we attend the Prop Viewing. There are many different weapons in Trovatore, and I’ll let the costume department know if the singers need somewhere in their costume to stash their weapons. We also keep track of any wearable props, like rings, or any props that need to fit inside a pocket.

And all that’s just the morning – after lunch we shuffle singers out to costume and wig fittings and start staging rehearsals for Act One. Looking at the schedule it’s a long first day, but we’re very excited to hit the ground running on Trovatore!