Monday, March 7, 2011

Opera at Brown University

It’s been a few weeks since last we met, but the opera never stops! I wanted to write about what I've been up to lately. Most of it involves my two favorite things, opera and my peers:

Student Dress Rehearsal of Nixon in China at the Metropolitan Opera—you haven’t lived until you’ve eaten a brown-bag lunch sitting on the floor of the Family Circle lobby (waaaay up in the nosebleed seats), surrounded by young people all doing the same.  I took the bus down from Providence to NYC and back (all in one action-packed day) to attend a special free student dress rehearsal, for undergrads and third-graders alike. Nixon in China is nothing short of spectacular, and also a very important work for modern opera. I actually didn’t mind sitting so high up, because the visuals were so striking from a distance—the large clumps of brightly-dressed chorus members seamlessly converged and melted into other formations during Pat Nixon’s tour of the Chinese countryside in Act II.   I could also really appreciate the immense size of the stage when characters appeared alone. I was psyched to hear Kathleen Kim (APPEARING AS POPPEA IN BLO’S AGRIPPINA) sing “I am the wife of Mao Zedong.” This is one of my favorite arias of all-time—the piece teeters on the brink of madness, and contains very difficult coloratura. Ms. Kim nailed it. 

Rehearsing for Die Fledermaus! I'm directing an entirely student-run production of J. Strauss's classic operetta. We’re two weeks out from opening night, which is exciting and terrifying. This show is bigger than any production I have directed before, even in terms of sheer numbers (20 cast, 25 orchestra, at least 15 production staff)! We've begun rehearsing with the orchestra, which is terribly exciting--the feeling of singing accompanied by such a rich sound is truly magical. Rehearsal has been a ton of fun so far—we’ve had all-cast waltz lessons and clown workshops, vocal coachings and improv work, and we’ve hammered out the blocking.  It’s great to work with such a diverse group—there are freshman playing leading roles, and performers entirely new to opera.  It’s also challenging to work with singers who are superstars in other fields as well—my lead soprano is presenting at an anthropology conference over tech weekend! I’m really excited to see it all come together.

See you at Agrippina!

- Audrey Chait, Brown University

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