It has been almost 2 weeks since I performed as part of the chorus in my first fully staged opera, Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore (Elixir of Love), with Opera Delaware. I am still going through show withdrawal. If I had to sum up the experience in a few words, I would say it was an incredible ride that I will never forget.
I have been in several musical shows before, but nothing of this calibre. This was a special group. Every single person in this production (directors, chorus, principles, stage management, wardrobe, supers and more) was really great – fun, intelligent and hardworking folk. Kudos to our General Director for pulling together such a wonderful group of people! It made the entire experience positive and I am so glad to have had the opportunity to sing in such a fun opera with these amazing people!
Some of you may be wondering ‘why Delaware, isn’t that far’? I did indeed drive up to Wilmington (~2-3 hours each way depending on traffic) regularly for about 6 weeks. Fortunately, I made some really great carpooling friends along the way that helped make the drives go by quickly. We adopted a few traditions along the way (ex: yelling naughty words as we crossed the state border) and one of my favorite memories is when we rocked out to Whitesnake and Roxette on our way home after dress rehearsal! Who said opera singers can’t do rock and pop? Pshaw!
What were some of my favorite moments in these productions? There are a ton, but here are some of the highlights:
- The opera itself was fun and upbeat, which is not so typical in the opera world. It was great to perform a comedy for once and nobody died! 🙂 It was a really great first opera for a lot of my friends who had never been exposed to this art form before. I’m happy to say I had 8 opera newbies attend and they all seemed to enjoy it! Win!
- All of our leads were *wonderful* singers. Hearing Billy sing Una Furtiva Lagrima brought me to tears – every.single.time. Sharin made every note seem effortless and was such an amazing actor to boot! Trevor commanded the stage like it was nothing and had an incredible voice, and Stephen was hilarious as Dr. Dulcamara. I was fortunate to sing beside Kim a lot in the production too – she has a beautiful voice and is such a sweet person!
- Have you ever tried to sing opera while doing squats? Yup, it’s challenging. One of the numbers we did with the ladies was super fun and it was also an awesome leg workout! Who knew performing could burn so many calories? I was literally exhausted after every rehearsal, which was normal according to our stage director . 🙂
- I learned I can actually memorize a boatload of Italian in a very short timeframe. This opera is very wordy but repetition and awesome chorus rehearsals helped out a lot. I was surprised to be able to let my crutch (read: score) go by the time we started staging rehearsals.
- I loved sharing my first large scale opera performance with many close friends and musical mentors. The performances fell over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, and our friends James and Liz came down for a visit from Ottawa. James, fellow maritimer and conductor extraordinaire, has been such a positive musical influence in my life and I’ve sung with Liz for years, so it was really great to share it with both of them! My current voice coach, Shouvik, came as well which was awesome. Clearly he’s had a very large influence in my musical life over the past few years and coincidentally L’elisir was his first opera many years ago! I was also honoured that my hubby Pete and my friends Lisa, Andrew, Tracey, Aditi, Mat, Jim, Kim, Jim (not a typo, there were two), Katherine, Steve, Kate and Patti made the drive up to the show. I could write books about how awesome these people are and how much their support means to me, but you’d be reading for a long time….
- The costumes were great! They were from Sarasota Opera and designed by Howard Kaplan – colorful and comfortable! Fortunately, a decision was made early to NOT use our petticoats. I was extra thankful for this when it came to the ladies squatting scene. I had a lovely green corset which was initially held on by velcro only. After ‘hulking’ out of my costume a couple of times, our awesome wardrobe lady Rachel ‘hooked’ me up so I could no longer break free from my corset on stage. It was fun while it lasted…
- Reviews of the show were very positive and we even had to hold the curtain for 15 minutes at our matinee because the lineup for tickets was around the block! If you’re interested in reading the reviews, they are here: Broad Street Review, News Journal Review, (NYC Taminophile arts blog) Review and DEArtsInfo Review.
Last, I want to give a shout out to The Sybaritic Singer who eloquently captured how you can help opera companies survive. Productions like this are not cheap and there are reasons that we can only do a couple of performances! If you attended and liked what you saw, or weren’t able to make it but want to help, please take a look at this blog post and do what you can! Thank you in advance from the bottom of my heart!
Overall, my experience with Opera Delaware and this show was fabulous. I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity, and it was ironic that it fell over Canadian Thanksgiving! It was totally worth the long drives and I cannot wait for our other shows coming up in 2014. For more info and tickets, please see the Opera Delaware website.
Until the next show…