The Wise Men come to Erskine

Last week was the busiest first week of J-term that I have ever had.  From the first day, moving back in on Sunday, the rehearsals began.  Every evening we rehearsed the opera at least once, every day adding something new, from the chorus to props to costumes.  On top of all these rehearsals I had all the planning and practice for my J-term project… but that is a topic for another blog.

Usually we prepare and present an opera in one semester, but this year we decided to perform first thing in January because of the Christmas theme.  Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors is set as part of the journey of the Magi on the way to visit the newborn Christ, and our Friday and Saturday night performances fell, appropriately, on the Feast of the Epiphany.  I enjoyed this timing, performing at the end of the twelve days of Christmas, because sometimes it is difficult to remember that season lasts that long.  It seems that many celebrate only through December 25, or until New Year’s.  Being part of Amahlkept me in the Christmas mindset, reminding me that those twelve days are not just part of a (slightly irritating) song, but a continuation of the celebration.

The cast of "Amahl and the Night Visitors" after our final performance.

It was nice for us to have a break before this performance, also, after all the concerts and singing that we do in the last weeks of the fall semester.  After resting our voices over Christmas, we came back and polished it up in a week.  I was a little worried that the singers (including myself) would forget some of what we did before the long break and have to scramble to re-learn some of it when we got back, but we were pleasantly surprised at how well-prepared everyone was.  By the end of the week we were ready and excited to put it before an audience, and had two nights of great performances by the cast, and two good-sized, appreciative audiences.

We had one slight mishap at the end of the second performance when our door frame began to tip over as the kings left, but the one standing below thought quickly and calmly pushed it upright again before it got too far down.  It was a good save!  It is always nerve-wracking when those unforeseen problems occur during the middle of the action onstage.  Depending on what happens, there is usually a mixture of hilarity and panic among those on stage, but no matter the outcome, it certainly makes it more entertaining for the audience!

If you would like to read a little more about our performance, here is a Net News article about the opera:

Hello, New York!

Friends at home often look at me quizzically when I say I’m going back to school on January 2nd, since that date is significantly earlier than the start-date for most colleges. I’m never reluctant to return, however, even after enjoying weeks of delightful holiday relaxation. Why is this? Because during January, Erskine students take only one class—a lovely way to ease back into the hustle and bustle of the regular semester on the heels of Christmas vacation.

J-term enables us Erskine students to study one subject deeply and thoroughly, to explore disciplines unrelated to our majors, and to enjoy unique classroom experiences, such as taking a trip to Columbia to study state politics hands-on or taking a course on detective fiction (which involves Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie—so it has to be good!). Since I’ve been at Erskine, I’ve found that January is a month filled with fun, time to hang out with friends, and awesome new experiences.

This year is no exception, since I’m in a J-term taught by Dr. Brad Christie and Professor Glick titled “Flight to the City: EC in NYC.” Yep. We’re going to spend eight days in New York, viewing sites and theater events ranging from the Empire State Building to the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Carmen. In preparation for this horizon-widening, fun-filled journey, we’ve discussed the best way to observe and analyze art (which will come in handy as we keep detailed journals of everything we encounter), how to navigate in New York City (skills which we’ll especially use during our liberal amounts of free time), and how to best appreciate and learn from events such as the opera or a performance by the New York Philharmonic. In addition, each student in the class of eighteen is giving a presentation on so
me site or feature of New York, either before or during the trip. Listening to several of those reports today was a great way to learn more about the city…and has made me that much more incredibly excited about all that I’m about to see and experience. Hello, New York!