What has happened? Well, Calisto went up, for one! Many things changed from my initial description of the project, but the end product was just as beautiful as I would have hoped. Well, almost--they never were able to make the "fountain" spew "water" (a.k.a. dry ice fog) long enough to last through my aria about it. But one can always quibble! In all seriousness, though, getting to work on this opera was a fascinating experience. I thought about this opera and the various characters so much, but as an individual mind with freedom to apply my own prejudices to everything. When you bring an opera to life with a company, everyone enters with their own discrete opinions. Perhaps it's a bit as if everyone begins as a sphere, but as time goes on and you begin to understand your fellow cast members the edges of your beliefs begin to blur, melding with others, expanding and contracting, until it all fits together like a puzzle. I do love performing, and dressing up in my costume, and sitting in hair and makeup, and waiting backstage, but I also love the work of being in your rehearsal skirt for six hours on a Saturday and of imagining everything and trying and probing and poking and stripping away until everything makes sense.
And eventually it looks like this:
Photo Credit Nicola BettsI was really lucky that many of my family members came to see the opera: my father, grandmother, mother, aunt, uncle, and cousin! What I didn't fully anticipate was how exhausted and busy I would be. It didn't help that I had an audition (for Tafelmusik's summer program) the morning after the final Calisto performance, or that we were still in school, or that I had a million other things I was supposed to be doing. I wish that I had more time to spend with my family and with the friends that came to see the opera. It's really neat to be able to perform for people you know, to remember that they are in the audience, and a real luxury given that I am so far away from home. This was the first time my mom had ever seen me in a staged production.
The week after the opera we had more visitors: Ryan's family and the composer John Harbison. Ryan gave a recital at the COC's Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre that Thursday, performing Mr. Harbison's two piano sonatas. The night before, he came over for dinner and I made two different kinds of curry which went with one of Ryan's beers. I didn't get the chance to spend much time with Ryan's family, though, because I was busy with a master class that Friday and a different concert on Saturday night. The next week both of us returned to the COC for another concert, this one with the GGS New Music Ensemble. Ryan was playing the orchestral piano part in this beautiful Saariaho violin concerto and I was singing a piece of hers for voice and harp called "Il Pleut." Initially written for voice and piano and utilizing the entire span of the piano's range in the single line of a slowly descending chromatic scale, it's not exactly the most luscious concoction you could imagine. Preparing the work with the harpist, Emily, was an exercise in patience. It took time to let the piece, which is sparse like the cold and wet day it describes, develop its own meaning. I think, though, in the end it was beautiful and different.
I can't really recall what happened after that. Ryan and I performed at Schubert's "Viola" at the Art Gallery of Ontario during an afternoon of performances by GGS students. Neither of us had visited the museum before, which we found to be quite beautiful and large. The AGO and the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) both feature older buildings updated by modern architects. I've written about how I feel the ROM's renovation was less successful, but the parts of the AGO that I've seen were quite beautiful. We were situated in the central court, which is mostly the old building but is intersected by a winding wooden staircase. Stained a warm orange-golden color, walking up the staircase almost feels like being in a slot canyon.
I think I'll leave it at that and sign off for now. On Tuesday I go down to New York for a performance at the beginning of June, so hopefully I'll have the chance to write more soon.
Oh! Now I remember: another New Music Ensemble concert, mock auditions, final "exams," and, of course, my recital. And that doesn't even cover all the baking I've done. Well, another day.