PDX OPERAbeat | A Company Blog is the blog for all things Portland Opera, featuring a variety of guest contributors who will provide insider's tidbits on all we do to celebrate the beauty and breadth of opera.
Jess Crawford is our primary blogger.
Jess spends much of her time eating enormous amounts of cake, making long lists of books she'll probably never read, and challenging people to arm-wrestling contests.
During the day (and sometimes at night) she is Portland Opera's music librarian.
She writes more about her escapades at her personal blog: http://bravissimi.blogspot.com
"This music is like electric gossip." -- Maestro Pelto, on the overture to The Marriage of Figaro
Rehearsals continue! In just a few days, we will move all our rehearsal gear over to Keller Auditorium for one last week of technical rehearsals and dress rehearsals. And then we open!
Figaro presents some very interesting challenges for our costume shop, because many of the characters get dressed (and undressed) onstage, in front of the audience, while singing. This means that the costumes have to be very easy and straightforward to put on, and, as last week's rehearsal notes suggest, "singer-proof"! There have been a lot of changes to the costumes thus far, and a few accidents. Hence the following type of rehearsal notes:
1. Thank you for the quick ruffle removal on Susanna's veil today. That's all we needed to make it "less petticoat." 2. For Act I, Susanna will enter in the waist cincher, blouse and petticoat. She puts the blue bodice on onstage and will remove the cincher and blouse on an exit in Act I. 3. Can the hook/eye at the top of Susanna's blue bodice be any larger? 4. We had a few mishaps in rehearsal today: many of the buttons came off Cherubino's pants, and there is a rip in the lower back area of Marcellina's robe. 5. Please ADD a very large snap to the top of the blue ombre robe -- the hook isn't staying closed with all the vigorous action. 6. Cherubino removes his shoes onstage.
Here's another interesting fact for you: in this show, all the characters wear corsets. All of them -- including the men.
Our costume cutter/draper, Rae Minten, very sweetly took a little time to set some of the corsets up on dress forms so you could see them. This beautiful one is the Count's:
Rehearsal notes are sent daily from the stage manager to all of us in production who may need to make changes during the rehearsal process -- these might be changes to the set, the electrics, the costumes, the props, the sheet music, the makeup, or more. Here's a sample:
Costumes 1. The Count (David Pittsinger) removes one shoe onstage. 2. The Count puts Marcellina's veil on her onstage -- it will need combs or something to make this singer-proof.
Props 1. Please ADD a shoe horn. 2. Please ADD a hip flask. 3. Please ADD 6 rifles with carrying straps. 4. Please ADD a large bouquet for Cherubino. It should be weeds/wildflowers and not too pretty.
Really Awesome News
Last Sunday, October 9, our very own Caitlin Mathes, POSA mezzo, won the Metropolitan Opera National Council District Auditions! The MONC auditions, held once a year, exist to discover young talent, to provide a venue for young singers from all around the country to be heard by a representative of the Metropolitan Opera, and to find the next new talent for the Metropolitan Opera and the Met Opera's Lindemann Young Artist program.
Caitlin shares the win with Albert J. Glueckert, tenor. Both singers reeceived $1,500 and will advance to the next round of auditions, to be held in Seattle in January. Winners of the Seattle auditions will move on to the semi-final round, held at the Metropolitan Opera in April.
We are so proud of all our POSAs who auditioned, and congratulations, Caitlin!
Overheard in the Office
"I've been working on my tenor sob. I'm holding a master class: Italian verismo sobbing. I'm very good."
Rehearsals for The Marriage of Figaro started yesterday! The halls are filled with Mozart! I'll have plenty to tell you about the show once things are in full swing. For now, I thought this would be a great time to introduce you to Figaro.
This is Figaro. He's generously agreed to answer some questions about himself for this month's staff profile.
Position: Costume Kitty. My ID badge says so.
I have to wear it on my collar because I don't have thumbs.
How long have you worked at the opera? I started on the job this spring.
Were you involved with music before working with the opera? Are you a life-long opera fan, or new to the art? Well, to be honest, I still haven't seen my first opera. I'm really more of a behind-the-scenes sort of fellow. I like to supervise the costume fittings. (Don't tell Frances, our costume shop manager -- I let her think she's in charge). I do sometimes saunter into the Music Studio, if somebody leaves the door open for me, so sometimes I get to peek in on rehearsals. Everyone is always so pleased to see me, I figure sometimes it's just nice to pop your head in and say hello.
I also spend a lot of time in the box office. I like to hear how ticket sales are going. And there are a lot of warm laps in there.
What's your background? Where did you grow up? I grew up in northeast Portland. I don't really talk about my early life. Before I came to the opera, I had a very brief but pleasant stay with a nice guy named Jona, who works in the opera warehouse. But his house was pretty full of other cats, so I ended up here.
What do you do in your spare time? I like to hang out in the hallway. Sometimes the nice people in the box office will make paper balls for me. They seem to know just what I like: A nice, paw-sized paper ball that I can bat down the hallway. Sometimes they play tricks on me and plant the ball behind one of the pictures on the wall, so I have to jump to get it down.
I also really love to knock things off the tables in the costume shop. All those pins are so shiny when they fall on the floor.
Sometimes, if it's late at night and I hear somebody out in the hall, I do my best impression of an opera singer. They'll usually poke their head in to say hello.
What's the best part about the job? All the soft things to sleep on. Plus, it just seems like everyone is so happy to see me all the time. I think I really bring a certain something to this company.
What's the hardest part of the job? It seems like every time I settle down on a nice scrap of fabric, somebody needs it for something. Why do they always choose to work on the thing I'm sitting on? People are always like that.
Also, sometimes there are loud noises in the shop. I hate those noises!
If you could travel back in time to any performance in history, which would it be and why? Well, you shouldn't let this get out, because I know it's not really opera, but I'd love to have been able to attend the premiere of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Cats. Obviously.
Also, I'd love to see a performance of Duetto buffo di due gatti -- "duet for two cats." People say Rossini wrote it, but I'm pretty sure that's not true.
There's also that great cat scene in L'Enfant et les Sortileges, which unfortunately I wasn't here to see. Still, anytime cats get to be in classical music, I am down with that.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be? Kitty mind-meld. I keep head-butting people, thinking maybe it will work this time, but no luck so far.
Thanks for the interview, Figaro. Do you think I could get a picture with you? Usually I really don't go for this sort of thing, but okay. Just this once. But you have to come down here to take it.