Well, I’m off my stint with Mountain Movers and I’m already prepping for my time in Hawaii this June.
As I’ve stated in previous posts, I’m headed to the beautiful island of Kona, HI, to participate in the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival. I’m an Encrantz Fellow, singing Hannah After in Laura Kaminsky’s opera As One!
I will admit, it’s been a while since I’ve prepared for an opera- a year, rather. It’s an immense undertaking. For most opera contracts, you are required to show up completely “off book” as it is. That takes a lot of planning and structure beforehand.
At this point in my process, I’m nailing down rhythms, notes, entrances, conducting through the score etc. I usually “work it” with an accompanist, though I’ve been a bit under the weather this week, so I’ve taken some time off.
This coming week, I’ll (hopefully) be rehearsing music with my accompanist- tying up loose ends in the music, understanding the harmonic structure and working through my own musical kinks. It also needs to sit in my voice for a minute; the voice needs a chance to settle into the music and vice versa. You almost have to build your technique into the music. An opera singer does this for almost every work, as they are all different and require different nuances, text painting, colors, etc. That’s the beauty of performing opera.
Once I have all of the technical bits down, I begin the memorization process, though this tends to happen naturally. Certain sections ultimately become “earworms” and the memorization process becomes more organic. If I have trouble spots, I usually isolate those and hyper-focus on memory by writing down the text over and over, singing the musical phrase to compound the repetition. It’s a process based on layering, if you will. It’s taken years to master.
This opera is particularly difficult, being a contemporary piece. There are a lot of challenging rhythms, difficult harmonic/melodic ideas and counterintuitive musical cues. Thankfully, it’s in english…though, English is one of the HARDEST languages to sing- diphthongs, specific consonants, fricatives, etc.
Additionally, I have to play my own conductor. I have to anticipate what my future conductor will demonstrate- what pattern they’ll use- which will ultimately help streamline my entrances and match my partner!
Oh yes! I have a stage partner…another singer. The opera is based on a story about a male character transitioning into a female character. Therefore, the opera requires a male character (baritone) and female character (mezzo-soprano)- ME! It’s exciting because it’s only us on stage for the entirety of the show, BUT that leaves us heavily exposed. So, we have to be on our game, so to speak!
More than anything, a performer plans! It’s all about “preparation” as I’ve harped before. It’s this stressful, interesting, time intensive process that definitely pays off.
As of now, it’s ongoing!