Wow! Time is starting to race as the count-down to Portland Opera To Go blast off begins. All of my performers arrive here bright and early on January 11 to start rehearsals for our brand new production of The Elixir of Love. I cannot wait, because that means that all of the odds and ends I am currently putting together will be done and the fun stuff will begin! Man, this is the part that drives me nuts: booking hotels, creating schedules, confirming dates and times—all the little details. This year it is even more imperative that I get it done now, rather than during rehearsals, because not only do we have a new show this year, but a new tour manager—ME!
Now, I have tour managed before. I’ve been a regular employee with Portland Opera since 2000. After singing with our outreach tour, I was hired to be the Education Assistant and the Tour Manager, but I haven’t tour managed since 2004—I became the Manager of Education & Outreach and have been office bound for the last 6 years. Well, not quite. I went out with Opera Improv in the Spring of 2010 as both performer and tour manager, which was great fun, but didn’t entail a set and costumes. This year, it is the full-meal deal. I have to say, I am really looking forward to driving the box truck again, but not so excited about the o’dark:thirty call times! What was I thinking when I booked these things?!! I tell you, it is constitutionally impossible for me to say no to school children in need of opera.
Let me tell you about a typical day with Portland Opera To Go. Take a nice, easy, in-town day. Everyone arrives at the Hampton Opera Center in time to leave for the venue at 7:30 am (such a nice, civilized time). At 8:00 am we arrive at the school to put up the set. From 9:00 to 9:30 am, we are in classrooms. At 10:00 am we begin the show. After the show, which lasts around 50 minutes, we get out of costume, pack up the set and get on the road for the next venue. We do two shows a day, with varying distances between. And that is an easy day. A hard day might have us leaving the opera at 6:15 am and heading for The Dalles, or Sheridan, or Turner!
We do have a very busy schedule this year. Lots of early calls, lots of travel, lots of new experiences, including some I am very excited about: our double bills at eight of the McMenamins locations. We haven’t ever done anything like this and I am eager to get a couple under our belts to see how they will really work. The first half will be The Elixir of Love. Then the second half, we will get dolled up and do a short concert of opera’s greatest hits. I am obsessing about the logistics, but looking forward to the actual product.
The other thing that I am thrilled about is my cast. All but one of my singers is returning from last year, and I have a fabulous new pianist. It takes a very special singer/actor/teacher to be a Portland Opera To Go cast member. Not only do you have to be a fantastic singer/actor, but you have to be an extraordinary human being—it is the toughest job you will ever love, and you gotta be the right person. As hard as work will be, I cannot imagine doing it with finer and more talented people. Next week, I will introduce them to you.
In the meantime, I have to go print off some maps from Mapquest—or as I affectionately call it, “Map-guess.” One time I could see the school—it just happened to be across a muddy field with no apparent alternative access. Ah, the vagaries of the tour.
This is me signing off,
The Daring Diva
aka Alexis Hamilton
aka Manager of Education and Outreach
aka POGO Elixir Tour Manager