It has been a fabulous first week of rehearsals for BambinO with Scottish Opera. The sun has been shining in Glasgow, and the energy in the rehearsal room has been electric. As some of you may know, I have performed this opera before, and it is lots of fun to revive as I love singing the music. It is an excellent opportunity to collaborate with former colleagues again. I will reunite with Sam Pantcheff, Baritone, who I performed opposite in 2018 and Andrew Drummond Huggan, Cellist, who I have worked with a few times, the latest being last year in the 2021 Scottish Opera Pop-Up Tour. On this tour, I am working with a new percussionist, Darren Gallacher, who is a quick study and accomplished player. I have been impressed with Darren’s ability to jump straight in and keep up with the rest of the quartet who have performed this opera
In today’s post, I thought it would be interesting to share what we cover in the rehearsal process when reviving an opera with a majority returning cast.
Firstly, we rehearse the music and negotiate speeds and tricky corners.
Music Director Chris Gray led these working sessions and ensured that our current interpretation was accurate to the score. This aim is important because small changes to the score can occur over time in reaction to flexibility found in the performances, and it’s an opportunity to remind ourselves of the composer’s original intentions. These sessions also allow performers to explain why specific changes were incorporated, especially if the composer agreed with them. These changes may have been in reaction to particular dramatic needs, for example, taking more time for a character’s emotional arc or (in the case of this specific opera), because a particular section of the music regularly encouraged the babies to crawl in the performance space. Hence, the musicians added a few vamp* bars to allow the performers to negotiate where to step.
(* A vamp is a short, repeated section of music often used for improvisation by an accompanist. The accompanist would play the repeated pattern until the soloist was prepared to enter.)
Secondly, we plot out the staging.
As an ensemble, we walked through the show. When you rehearse in a relaxed manner, the task is to get a sense of entrances and exits, choreography, prop placement, your character arc and your colleagues. It is often done without music so that you can move at a comfortable speed to encourage better memory recall and memorisation.
We then revised Phelim McDermott’s dramatic style.
Guided by revival director Lisa Lorenzo, we played acting games inspired by Phelim’s working style to reconnect with the movement language of the piece. At the core of this piece, eye contact and connection between quartet members is integral. Reminding ourselves of these elements will help us capture the original production’s essence and Phelim’s style.
Check that all costumes and props are in good working condition.
Throughout the week, our stage managers liaised with Scottish Opera’s Costume and Prop departments to ensure the visual elements were ready. Following my costume fitting, I will wear my original costume, with some TLC tweaks and improvements to allow for natural wear and tear. I think it is wonderful that Scottish Opera have taken great care with storing our costumes, meaning we can reuse them. Reusing the costume is terrific for the environment and my interpretation. My outfit carries many memories of past performances, and I feel it helps me embody the character.
Start running the piece
Towards the end of the week, we had made significant progress and had already begun running the piece from start to finish to see where the niggles were. Highlighting these moments early in the rehearsal process means we have plenty of time to tighten up the music and acting.
I have been researching Instagram reels and how to make them during my downtime. Reels are a feature on Instagram, where you are encouraged to create and share short, engaging videos. Please watch my first reel below. The video aims to spark a conversation, so I can find out what “Behind the Scenes” footage or information interests my blog friends the most. I plan to use your comments to guide my content inspiration while on tour.