Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Benjamin Richardson Reports from Rehearsal (and Opening Night!), #4

This is Benjamin, the second Spirit in Seattle Opera’s production of The Magic Flute, talking about our last week of rehearsal and opening night. On Sunday, May 1, we watched the Silver Cast do a rehearsal in full costume. This was the first time we saw the costumes and we were amazed at how they sparkled and shone in the light. The costumes are so well-designed, it was hard to believe they were made by a human!

Monday was the first time we were on stage with the orchestra in the pit. It was much different but our maestro, Gary Thor Wedow, is always there in the pit swinging his baton and helping us stay in tempo if we get lost. Then on Tuesday we had our first full dress rehearsal with makeup and costume. Being on the catwalk and on the scooters with our costumes was a whole new experience. My favorite thing to do onstage is to lie down on the narrow catwalk and look down at Pamina.

For Wednesday’s dress rehearsal, we had an actual audience that filled a lot of the auditorium! We had the full experience of what it would be like in a performance. We had some time to waste in the Green Room, so we played things like poker and other games with the Anubii and the chorus men and women. When it was time to get on the stage, we stepped on the catwalk or on our scooters and went out there to sing. It was so exciting being in front of so many people.

A costume sketch for the Three Spirits, by costume designer Zandra Rhodes.

Saturday, May 7, was opening night for Magic Flute, which was very exciting. In my dressing room I was greeted by three truffles, three cookies, three cards, and a rose from Speight Jenkins (who gave a rose to every cast member!). I thought the performance would be similar to the dress rehearsals, but it was actually much different. I think the reason for that is if, for example, the catwalk didn’t come down soon enough in the dress rehearsals we would simply stop, fix it, and keep going. If it happened in the performance, though, it could go very wrong. Thankfully, nothing went wrong from the audience's view, but backstage something did go wrong.

At the beginning of our scene where we tell Papageno not to kill himself, he is supposed to suddenly appear from behind an opened iris, which is a black moveable screen that opens up to form different shapes into which characters enter and exit. The iris, however, did not open, and there was an awkward moment of nothing happening onstage. Backstage we and the Anubii were told to go through another wing. The Anubii were to hold these palm branches that we hide behind, but we had to move all the branches quickly from one wing to another. When we reached the wing, things went smoothly and we improvised our blocking (movements). When I went backstage, I frantically tried to find out where we needed to go next. They told me the iris was now opening, and things could go on normally. My heartbeat slowed down about 75%.

Alissa Henderson, Benjamin Richardson, and Casi Goodman (The Three Spirits) with Philip Cutlip (Papageno).
Photo by Rozarii Lynch

The other parts of the opera went very well, and I felt good about how we performed. The only other thing that happened was a mistake that only I made. There’s a scene where all the Spirits leave the stage except for me, and I take Papageno by the hand and pull him offstage. There were two wings, wing 1 and wing 2, and I accidentally brought him into wing 1. The next scene required Pamina to come out on a moving desk, and this wide desk was basically blocking wing 1 completely. When I saw this, I had to jump past the desk through a very tight space, and I felt lucky neither Papageno nor I hit the desk in any way. I’m also glad our costumes didn’t get caught on the desk, for if we were to be pulled back onstage stuck to the desk, it would have been very embarrassing!

At the end the audience gave us a heartwarming standing ovation, and we bowed several times.

The next day, we had a cast party at Speight Jenkins’ house. It was a beautiful house with pretty flowers all over the front porch. They had the most delicious food: pasta, salad, pepperoni, bread, and apples with cream for dessert. Almost every single person who had anything to do with The Magic Flute was there having a great time. Mr. Jenkins also had two adorable dogs named Sunshine and Cinnamon, and they were very friendly and they greeted every person. It was remarkable seeing all these people, having seen them onstage doing incredible things, just talking and being normal human beings!

1 comment:

  1. I love getting this insider's view. You've done a great job. Lots of people are very proud of you. Good job!