Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Grimes!!! Peter Grimes!!!

I hope everyone has been well. Against advice, I have decided to keep this a blog for when I'm working. That could change at any point. :)
Today finds me in Houston singing Auntie in "Peter Grimes" with the Houston Grand Opera. I have never done this role, nor have I even seen the opera performed live. It is a wonderful, though intimidating, place from which to jump. On the one hand I have no one else in my mind as I sing and rehearse my role. What a wonderful freedom to be surprised by and react to tempos I didn't expect, and to hear some of this music for indeed the first time. Our second day of rehearsal was today, and we were treated to 3 hours of musical rehearsal this evening with the full chorus. They are wonderful, and in this show they are intertwined with the plot and are constantly commenting on the scene at hand, passing judgment, or doing everything in their power to throw poor me off by having 64 voices singing different rhythms against mine. It's a brilliant piece, and it's magical to hear.
I had my first costume fitting today, and as I write this I sit comfortably in my chair, not having to think about the deep, luxurious breaths in which I casually luxuriate.
That's right.....corset. Not just any corset. The same corset they built for me when I was here in Houston 2 years ago for the Previn opera "Brief Encounter". In that piece, I was the "tea wench", and luckily my role required absolutely no sitting, as my corset rendered that next to impossible.
Corsets do not work magic. They give me a waist which nature did not deign to do. However, by cinching in the middle, that's not the end of the story. What is decreased in one section must be increased in another. It has to go somewhere. In this particular pink, lace-trimmed instrument of torture, that somewhere happened to be the boob region. Or, as Grandpa Koop called it, my Mt. Vesuvius. During "Brief Encounter", I had people setting trays on them, swiping Visa cards between them, and making assumptions about the person to whom they were attached. Guilt by association.
The role of Auntie in "Peter Grimes" is the head of the whores, my "nieces". However, I thought perhaps because this was set in a working fishing village, it was a casual place, I had the nieces to do the "dirty" work, and it was sweater weather, I might escape looking like me. Wrong, and wrong.
I arrived for my fitting, and there it was sitting on the chair looking benign and rather feminine. However, I knew of what it was capable.
It's never a good sign when your dresser instructs you to "kick me if it's too tight." That's not a woman into pain, that's her recognizing the fact that too tight implies no breath, rendering crying out in pain impossible.
Wide stance, arms against the wall, and organs doing a shifty little dance that would make Scarlett O'Hara proud. It's a strange feeling when the dresser takes a moment to shift her hands up the laces, and you can feel your body literally adjusting and finding ways of accommodating parts of you that until recently had space to spare.
When the flurry of pulling, cinching, and organ relocation had settled, I found my figure once again a faux hourglass. A foot above my own personal "Waistland", my cup once again ranneth over. The two dressers clapped, cheered, and declared "You may be in tons of pain, but you look HOT!!!"
Unfortunately, this role does not allow me to stand at all times. How do you explain to the very nice director during rehearsals that you can't be seated when you sing this line, as chin-resting-on-boob-shelf does not lend itself to a full breath and legato line?
That's the news from Houston. The other day, I received an email touting a celebrated author giving a reading at my "Local Borders". I clicked on the link just out of curiosity as to where they considered to be my hometown. A sad commentary on my nomadic life.
However, here in Houston I have several friends in this opera and also in town. It's one of the most wonderful things about this business. The opera world is very small, and as time goes on you get to know a large majority of the professional set. Rarely do I have a gig where I don't have at least one friend in the cast.
I hope everyone has been well.

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