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.
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: http://news.erskine.edu/?p=1181