A Day In The Life


Prima Donna Returns
August 30, 2007, 7:24 pm
Filed under: Music

Preparing for my role in the opera was one of the most physically demanding things I have ever done.  You may scoff and think that I’ve never done any hard labor in my life, but I cleared fence rows this summer and I can honestly say that cutting brush and brambles was child’s play compared to rehearsing for The Marriage of Figaro.  The rehearsal schedule was brutal.  I’ve never sung so much in my life.  Morning, noon and night…..singing, singing, singing.  We blocked out our scenes on stage.  We practiced entrances and exits.  There were several dance scenes in the opera and I had to learn to waltz while singing.  That may not sound too difficult, but you should try waltzing while hitting a succession of high A-flats.  I sounded like an asthmatic for the first couple of weeks. 

Along with the physical demands there were extreme emotional and mental challenges.  I had to sing while embracing the male leads.  Talk about stressful.  Imagine being right in a man’s face singing opera.  I was constantly worried about  garlic breath or having lettuce stuck in my teeth.  To make matters even more tense, the director demanded that Figaro and I really kiss each other.  No fake, theatrical smooches.  We had to kiss.   I almost died the first time Figaro’s real-life wife sat in the theater during a rehearsal in which I had to lay one on her husband.  I kept expecting her to rush on stage and slap me. 

And let’s not forget my arch-rival, Miss H who was given a smaller, supporting role in the production.  Miss H. was none to happy about losing the lead role to little ole me.  She took every opportunity to up stage me in the first few weeks of rehearsal.  For those of you who may not know, upstaging is when a performer deliberately moves from their mark on stage to stand in front of another performer and block them from the audience’s view.  Madame kept me in the theater after rehearsals late one night and taught me how to gracefully counteract the upstaging Miss H.  And, if being graceful failed, Madame showed me how to use my body to simply shove the offensive Miss H. out of my way while never missing a note.  I got to try that technique out in the very next rehearsal and I must say, I really enjoyed it.  Miss H. didn’t do so much up staging after that incident. 

The day before the first performance I developed a case of sniffles.  By noon, I was coughing and running a slight temperature.  Madame packed me into her car and took me to her personal physician.  He gave me a gargantuan shot of vitamin B-12 in the buttocks and sent me home to rest.  In the meantime, Madame bought a case of Perrier and a pound of lemons.  On opening night, Madame had a table from her home set up backstage with Perrier at room temp and a huge bowl of quartered lemons just for me.  She even had one of her freshman vocal students sitting by the table to make sure no one else partook of my bottled water and citrus.  I was a nervous wreck, but the vitamin B-12 had worked wonders.  The Perrier and lemon worked to keep the vocal cords and throat free of phlegm.  And my opening night performance was dazzling.  I received a standing ovation and three curtain calls.  I was on cloud nine!  Two more performances and a matinee later, my leading role debut was history.  It was a heady experience and I cannot  begin to tell you how much I learned about music, performing, working with other prima donnas and about life in general. 

susannatriesonweddinghat1.jpg
 

 Susanna: Yes, Im very pleased with that:  It seems just made for me.  Take a look, dear Figaro.  Just look at me in this hat of mine.

 

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Susanna and Figaro: On this morning of our wedding how delightful to my (your) dear one is this pretty little hat which Susanna made herself.

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All:  Then let us all be happy.  This day of torment, of caprices and folly, love can end only in contentment and joy.  Lovers and friends, let’s round things off in dancing and pleasure.  And to the sound of a gay march let’s hasten to the revelry.

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5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Great post – When I go to the shows – I never really think about how much work goes into them!

and next time I’m coming down with a cold at an importune time – I’m getting a B12 shot.

Comment by Karmyn R

Very cool story! I can’t believe you’ve never told me it before! Oh, the college competition. Those prima donna’s drove me crazy…I sure wasn’t one of them! I just wanted to get done performing so I could teach and let the kids perform! 🙂 Have a great weekend!

Comment by Suzy_Q

Love this story!! Thank you for sharing. I never realized so much work really went into preparing for a show. The guts it would take to preform in front of an audience. WOW!

BTW Thank you for the kind words on my blog. 😀

Comment by Debbie

I did some local theater work (two musicals) and then I said NO MORE. You are correct. It was just way beyond what I had time for. Of course if you quit your job and THAT IS your job… that might be a different story.

Comment by Pamela

How cool! Fancy stuff, that is absolutely the reason the mac and cheese tastes better!

Comment by Shauna




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