In the Wings

Backstage glimpses with Boston Lyric Opera

Flying with 200% concentration

Nov 1, 2011 12:57:00 PM
By BLO Staff

Music Director David Angus, photo by Michael Dwyer
Angus, BLO’s Music Director, on the final rehearsals for Macbeth
the BIG one, where everything comes together for the first time. 
The thing
I love about working on opera is the way it grows and grows. We start preparing at home on our own, then we
get together and sing it through with piano, begin to sort out the staging,
gradually add props, substitute costumes, bits of pretend scenery, and bring in
the chorus. The director and designer
know what they want it to look like, and I know what I want it to sound like, but
we have to get to know each other and work together for several weeks to make a
complete picture where everything coordinates and drives the piece forward in
an exciting and intelligible way.
On the
side, I prepare the orchestra and then we add the singers, but this week is the
exciting week, when we first try things out on the actual stage. Tonight is the “Stage and Orchestra” where
all the elements are put together and we see our show complete for the first
time, with full costumes, wigs and makeup, and, for me, the most exciting
element that has been missing, the lighting. It is an old joke in the business–whenever you see a tatty old bit of
scenery or costume, someone always says “just wait until it’s lit”, but it’s
true–lighting can transform everything, give instant atmosphere, change night
into day, excitement into fear, just at the press of a button.
Darren K. Stokes, Carter Scott & Daniel Sutin

Opera is incredibly expensive to put on with all
these different departments working so hard, quite apart from the actual
performers–soloists, chorus and orchestra, so rehearsal time with everyone
together is extremely limited by cost. Tonight I will have just under 3 hours with everyone to race through the
entire opera, stopping to fix anything that is wrong in the music, whilst
allowing the staging and lighting to run with minimal interference. It is an intense balancing act. I have
to get to the end of the opera, but I have to fix things as well, so every time
I am aware of anything wrong I have to make an instant analysis of how serious
the problem is, whether it will fix itself next time, or if I really have to
stop, explain, go back and do it again. Performances are easy in comparison–I just have to do the show, without
any analysis or decision-making.

started planning this show nearly 2 years ago, and tonight it will all come
together for the first time, and we will know if we have a great show, just a
good show, or a disaster! From all the elements that we have worked on
so far, it has the makings of a great
show, with wonderful singing and playing, and a very strong visual
presentation. In 2 day’s time, we’ll
know for sure, when we have the Dress Rehearsal and add the final element, an
audience. But for me, tonight is the
really exciting one, when I am flying with 200% concentration in a race against
time, but also when we really see our show properly. I can’t wait!

(Rehearsal photo by David Angus)

Topics: behind the scenes, Backstage at BLO, BLO staff, General Opera, macbeth

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