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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.

Dispatches from Tosca rehearsal


A dispatch from the rehearsal room

I just came upstairs from our staging studio, where I listened to Roger Honeywell, our Cavaradossi, sing e lucevan le stelle in rehearsal. Holy cow, that aria! We've just begun rehearsing Act 3; the first two acts are staged. The rehearsal hall was bustling all weekend with full chorus (48 singers), children's chorus (almost 20 kids), full cast and staff. Next door in our music studio, there are two electric keyboards (one to play the organ, one to play the lowest church bells), four racks of chimes, cymbals, timpani, a giant bass drum (for backstage cannon), a celeste, a harp, and about a million chairs and stands, mostly scattered. The orchestra had their first reading Saturday morning; we've now read through the whole opera once, making a lot of tweaks and adjustments along the way. We have a final reading tonight, and then the orchestra has a few days off, returning on Friday for the first rehearsal in the theater. This is opera!

Tosca rehearsal notes

Choices, choices: testing out the various Scarpia-killing devices

Frequent readers of this blog know that I am very fond of rehearsal notes. I find them to be a constant reminder of just how unusual some of our jobs are. Some people in the world worry about spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, business meetings; others worry about the exact shape and heft of stage daggers and the most expedient way to drag a body on and offstage.

It takes all kinds.

Here are some recent highlights from the notes, sent out daily by our Production Stage Manager, Jennifer Hammontree.

January 11
Is it possible to give Angelotti a shirt with much less puffy sleeves?  And have it distressed and bloodied?

Please ADD a large piece of fabric (muslin or burlap) which will be used to drag Cavaradossi's body onstage in Act 2. Could we get that for the weekend?

David does not plan to use the Act 2 SL (editor note: stage left) door as the "torture chamber."  SL1 will be the torture area.  The SL door will be used by Judge, Executioner, etc.

January 13
Please ADD sheep bells to the percussion set up and ask Gordon to bring an assortment of sheep bell possibilities.

January 15
We are still experimenting with Act 2 chaise pillows.  Could you bring an assortment of sizes / firmness / shape for us to play with?  Larger rectangular and large/firm bolsters seem like a good place to start.

January 16
For the Act 2 fabric used to drag Cavaradossi: we are using the purple-gray one.  The color and tone are good, but please add blood and dirt spatters.  It also needs to be smaller, but we won't know how much smaller until working with it with the supers..

January 17
Diet coke will be thrown on Sciarrone in Act 2.

We chose a knife for killing Scarpia - it is on the SL prop table.  Please dull it and round the pointy tip.  Let me know if you have any concerns about using it.  John Armour (editor note: our fight choreographer) will look at it on Saturday, as well.

January 20
The newly firmed Act 2 pillows are fantastic.

The Act 2 dragging cloth size is working fine.


That's it for this week -- Tosca is heavy on backstage music (SO MANY SETS OF BELLS), so It's mayhem in the music library. 


Next week, let's talk about 2013-14!


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