A Professional Opera Singer 

Wherein I have a blast being on stage as opposed to behind it... 

As you all are aware, I sing with the big community choir here in Stockton. This year I also auditioned for the more selective Master Chorale and got in. One of the MC's primary jobs each year is to provide chorus services for the annual Stockton Opera production. Thus, I've been in my first opera, Puccini's Tosca (1900).

In Act I I played one of Scarpia's secret police/henchmen who burst in on the Te Deum which closes the Act. Fantastic costume with a magnificent black cape and these really cool fake boot things that you just wrap around your lower leg. Combined with the black pants, I felt like I was getting dressed to go on stage with a black metal band each night.

My next part was to be the judge in Act II, a silent role. Got to wear a big white (though very stuffy) wig and some very loud and uncomfortable 18th-century shoes. The best part about playing the judge is being on stage with the singers. Act II is really powerful and intense, and our Scarpia (Ralph Cato) was incredible. Opera is a completely different thing when you're on stage with the performers watching them produce the sound in front of you, especially the male singers. So, I guess the uncomfortable wig was worth it.

Act III was my big moment: I sang the role of the jailor. Well, sing is perhaps stretching it though I do have to utter specific pitches at specific times all by myself. There are only about 25 notes all told, and 21 of them are E, so the role made for a perfect stage debut. Had a very complicated costume for that -- a sash, a large belt, leggings, a different wig and so on. What's more, when I was asked to play the role by the leader of the MC I had no idea they'd actually pay me. I figured the real pros playing the other roles would of course get paid, but not me. Then the manager of the production company pulled me aside during one of the rehearsals and said not to leave that evening without sign a contract. Even then I thought it was just an indemnity kind of thing in case I broke my leg or something. However, upon reading the contract (it was short) I learned that I was in fact going to make exactly one Benjamin for two performances. Pretty cool.

Anyway, it was nice to come back to theatre after several years. I'd forgotten what the atmosphere was like being around people who are always "on" in that theatrical way. Usually it's funny and light-hearted, and I'd missed that since my days as a sound guy and stage hand at Moonlight and elsewhere during college.

Pictures, you say? They're on their way... 

Posted: Sat - January 14, 2006 at 11:03 PM          

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Published On: Mar 02, 2006 03:47 PM
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