Seemingly as quickly as it began, the Santa Fe Opera 2010 summer season has ended. On August 28, the final performance of the somewhat controversial Tales of Hoffmann was rendered; an overwhelming standing ovation followed; a very nice end-of-season party was enjoyed by all (courtesy of the management); and the next day we were all gone!
From the low humidity, high Southwestern desert heat of Santa Fe, I drove to the Albuquerque Sunport at 5:30 a.m., and boarded a plane bound for New York City. With a connection in Denver, and passing through Chicago, I finally arrived in a steaming hot Manhattan some 11 to 12 hours later, and headed straight to my apartment. With some unpacking to do, I thought longingly of getting into my over-sized bed to get some sleep, as I only slumbered for two hours the previous night. I did experience a deep comfortable sleep, but in the back of my mind, as I drifted off, was the fact that I had rehearsal the following day at the MET. We were to do a musical run-thru of the first Act of La Fanciulla del West.
The ‘first day of rehearsal‘ can be likened to ‘the first day of school‘ for children…only this is the adult version! I am not sure what it is, but the first day of rehearsal at the MET always makes me feel as if I am going to a branding ceremony; and we singers are the cattle! The tension is usually high, anxiety levels are generally up, and so I feel as if I am jumping into the fire. Santa Fe rehearsals are serious, to be sure; we have a short amount of time to get major operatic works onto the stage. But those first rehearsal moments at the MET can seem very, VERY serious and always no-nonsense. This is not because the MET staff makes us feel in any way uncomfortable or unwelcome; quite the contrary. But there is a sort of ‘corporate culture’ that one feels as we walk through the door that bespeaks “We are REALLY going to get to work now….forget where you were just were working for the summer….the REAL work is about to begin” ((((Ominous))))
As the many singers filed into the rehearsal room, I found that my fears did not disappoint. Although there were some pleasantries exchanged between the many singers who have likely known one another for years (I myself saw someone that I had not seen for 15 years!), I felt that the tension in the room could only be cut with the sharpest of knives. The Maestri enter; the rehearsal begins exactly on time; the singing commences……
Before we know it, the Maestro has smiled often, corrections are indicated, mistakes are made, and nervous laughter eventually gives way to the ‘fear’. Similar to ‘the first day of school‘ for children, we adults also still leave ‘class’ and ‘the school day’ behind, as we say to ourselves…..”I guess that wasn’t so bad after all! I can’t wait to see what tomorrow will bring when the second day of school begins.”
Here’s to a good school year….I, I, I mean….a good season at the MET.