Friday, January 21, 2011

Backstage with John Mac Master (Part 1)

I’m John Mac Master, I’m an operatic tenor, and I am making my role début and company début here in Boston singing Harlequin in The Emperor of Atlantis, or Death Quits.

We’re on the tail end of our first week of rehearsals, and the show is in great shape. I thought I would give you an overview of how we are getting from day one to opening night. Stay tuned over the next couple of weeks.

Concept for Harlequin by Costume Designer Nancy Leary
Monday January 10 was our first day of rehearsal, and was devoted mostly to music. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a year to learn an opera – depending on the size of your role, the length of the opera, styles of learning etc. I had learned all the notes and words in May and June last year, when I had some free time between and around engagements, and then had gone back to the piece in December to really polish the music, and learn some text changes that had been made. But the first day of rehearsal, when you sing your music with your colleagues is always exciting – and a bit daunting! You want to make a good impression, you don’t want to let your colleagues down…..And in the case of this music, there are some really ‘crunchy’ bits where the harmony is not what you would expect, and you hope it will all work out. This is a great cast though, and everyone was extremely well prepared, so it was a fun day. Steven Lipsitt is our conductor – and he had done the piece 16 years ago; he speaks fluent German and had done his own translation (we are singing the piece in English) – and he has studied the original manuscripts of the work….so there is no question you can ask about this piece that he has not thought about, and to which he has given consideration. Plus he is a great guy, and really helpful conductor. We won’t have our orchestra until days before opening – so for all the blocking rehearsals we have Allen Perriello who will play a reduction of the orchestra part at the piano….He is terrific, and with the conductor helps us make sure we are remembering the right words, right notes.

I'll write more soon, so keep checking in! If you have questions, email and we'll get back to you.

- John

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