Monday, November 28, 2016

Opera and Chamber Schedule

Hi folks,

I hope you had a fantastic break, and had the chance to relax after your performances! Here is the plan for the next week (or two):

Tuesday, November 29
2-3:30 Chamber Singers, come to my office to reclaim your costume. Everything will be clean and you'll have to reassemble and label your hanger. This shouldn't take more than a few minutes per person.

3:30-4:30 Principals, dancers, and extra chorus members, come to my office to reclaim your costume. Everything will be clean and you'll have to reassemble and label your hanger. Caleb, you can just come at 3:15 on Thursday rather than making a special trip.

Everyone, during this time you will be asked to sign up for a time to load or unload the truck either here or at the church for Sunday's performance. Since we have over 30 people in the show, this amounts to about 8 people per load-in/out.

Thursday, December 1
2:45-3:15 Chamber Singers and extra chorus, we'll revisit the music in the choir room. Principals, please plan to be there to sing cues. Review your lists of names and fruit! :-)

3:30-4:30 Principals, we'll sing through the show to refresh it. Please look at it before then!

Friday, December 2
1:30-2:30 Load the set, props, and costumes into the rental truck. Meet in front of the band room, Hulsey 210.

If anyone is available to drive to the church (even one carload of you!), we could unload TODAY rather than doing it the day of the performance. Not required, but think about it if it works for you. Round trip, with unloading, it should be just over an hour.

Sunday, December 3
Performance at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran, 4887 Valleydale Rd., Birmingham
Starting at 11:30, the church will be available for us to unload and set up. I will not be there until 12:30 due to my own church job, but Corey will be there to help. Anyone who signs up to unload should plan to be there between 11:30-1. It should only take about 15 minutes. BTW, there is a kitchen and a place to eat, so if you need to grab lunch on your way, you can eat it there.

1pm CALL for everyone. DO NOT BE LATE! We need to run a few things in this very different space, with a different set, and with piano.

3pm performance

3:45 reception (Lovely, huh? All this, and they feed you, too!)

Immediately following the reception, we will re-load the truck, and the last sign-up group will unload it back at school. We'll make one stop on the way to unload props and costumes at another church. I expect we'll be done with all of this by 5pm.

Next week, I should have the videos and photos to share with you. We'll have a viewing party in the recital hall, time TBA. The photos will be available for purchase; the performance video is not, as it's a show under copyright.

Thanks, all! The church is VERY excited to have you come, and I'm so looking forward to it as well.


Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Comp tickets for AMAHL

Hi folks,

You are on track to have a GREAT show. I know some of you might think I'm overly picky, but this is how you bring your work to next level. Stay focused, keep at it, and you'll truly shine!

Each of you is entitled to one free ticket to the show of your choice. Contact the box office, give them your name, and claim it for the night of your choice.

Meanwhile, take a selfie tonight or tomorrow night of your complete costume so that we can reconstruct them for the church performance on Sunday, December 4. They will be cleaned between Friday and then, and they often just look like rags unless we remind ourselves what they looked like all put together.


Thanks for all of your work!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Thoughts on energy

Hi folks,

Beau journaled on energy in his weekly assignment, and it was so helpful I thought I'd share it with you. He gave his permission for you to consider his wise words. Thanks, Beau!

Our discussions about having energy going before phrases begin have echoed with me throughout opera rehearsals. It goes without saying, but one can’t just go from 0 to 100 when they start singing. Preparation is involved; mentally as well as physically. Running the opera has thoroughly reminded me of this fact. I’ve taken note of the process of finding my ‘center’ of mental and physical preparedness and maintaining it throughout the performance. Physically, I must integrate what my body needs to do to produce the best possible sound at any given point. Mentally, I must focus all of my energies and keep them going for the duration, so that they are there when I call upon them. I had forgotten how easy it can be to let this fall by the wayside when participating in a full production. Not only firing up this energy, but keeping it checked in for the duration, has allowed me to find new levels in my performance that I didn’t know I had. I’ve also noticed myself becoming better as a performer as I learn to more and more effectively harness and channel this energy.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Interesting post on perfection

Hi folks,

Here is an interesting post from Carol Kirkpatrick that I thought would be timely for many of you. Enjoy.


By Carol Kirkpatrick on November 11, 2016

“Success isn't a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.” 
— Arnold H. Glasow

When I looked up the word “perfect” I noticed that most of the denotation for this word deals in religious ideals, which are different for each religion and human striving in ones behavior toward that religious goal, which is often unrealistic. There is nothing wrong with that, but it says nothing about there being “a” way for all of us to do anything perfectly. That includes performing perfectly in anything you do in life. Your idea of perfect is going to be different from mine, etc. The pursuit of perfection often puts road blocks up when working on vocal technique and putting that into a piece of music. It often creates tremendous fear of failure. So here is what I would like to suggest you might replace that particular word with.

When that particular word rises its’ ugly head, tell yourself to, “TAKE A BEAT”. That means stop everything you are doing, including thinking. Let all that stuff just fall away. Then decide what you are going to do and how you are going to do it whether it is vocal technique or working on languages in a piece. Or it could even be, understanding the context that this particular part in the music belongs to, to help you move the story forward. Perfection can also come into play when you are “trying” to create a plan of action or do business. All this does is keep you stuck in the past. You don’t take into account if this idea works for you or not. If it doesn’t, move on until you find a concept that makes sense to you.
When we “try” to be perfect, we tend to get stuck looking back at what we didn’t accomplish or do and often try to change it while we are doing it. We analyze and compare it to what someone else has done and do that to death without ever considering how to leave it behind and move only ourselves forward. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck in the past, even if it was 2 minutes ago. “TAKE A BEAT”, decide what you want to do, and how you want to do it, and do it without analyzing as you are doing it. You can observe, but don’t try to correct it in that moment. When you are done with a phrase, then you can look, hear, feel what you observed during that past moment, make adjustments, and then do this easy process all over again.  STOP – TAKE A BEAT – DO (as you mentally step back and observe) – STOP- ANALYZE – RESET – TAKE A BEAT – DO!

Whatever has brought you where you are today can be the same thing which prevents you from further improvements. To improve is to change. Take on the discomfort of doing something new, and then afterwards you can evaluate it. There’s no harm from that, but the benefits can be life changing. I dare you!  

Saturday, November 5, 2016

AMAHL schedule: final stretch

Following is the schedule as we make the final push to opening night. Review your blocking and music daily: we do not have time to re-teach, correct, or re-block anything. Stay in character at all times and do not talk backstage. Be early enough so that we are ready to begin at the time you are called.

Wednesday, November 16
Final dress rehearsal 7pm (confirmed) Last chance to lock things in! Invest real performance energy right out of the gate so you know what it feels like.

Come early enough to get into costume and makeup: dressing rooms open at 5pm. Group warm up at 6:30, so be at least mostly ready for curtain by then. Make your own arrangements for dinner. No food in the dressing rooms.

Performance order: November 17 cast first, November 18 cast second.

Thursday and Friday, November 17-18
November 17 cast: Carter, Kristin, Joel, Corey
November 18 cast: Caleb, Ashley, Jeremy, Ben
7:30pm performances; 6:30pm call for group warm-up. You'll have a little more time after warm-ups tonight and Friday. Dressing rooms open at 5:30. Everyone stays after the final performance to strike costumes and props, clean dressing rooms, erase orchestra scores, etc. Tell your families now that you may not leave to celebrate until we are done! If you're efficient and everyone helps equally, we should be done by 9:30pm.

Sunday, December 4
3pm performance: details to follow.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Rehearsal this Friday, 11/4

Hi folks,

I've confirmed with Jane and Tim that we can start an hour earlier, at 2:30 tomorrow. That should get you out of there no later than 5:30. The schedule is as follows:

2:30-3:30 Principals (Pages, join us at 3) we'll start with the quartet
3:30-4:30 Chorus (Amahls will join us at 4)
4:30-5:30 Principals: finish opening scene with Ashley/Caleb and work forward

Friendly reminder: we don't have time to remind you of blocking, character choices, and what to do with your props. Review your blocking so that you're plugged into the rehearsal right away. Thanks!

Friday, October 21, 2016

Being prepared

AMAHL Principals,

To follow up on our little chat yesterday, here are some thoughts:

-If you can't speak the text in or out of rhythm, without tripping, you don't really know it.

-If you can't sing it perfectly (notes and rhythms absolutely correct) while looking at it, you really don't know it.

-If you only get it right sporadically, you don't know it. It MUST be automatic before you can make music, make art, make drama.

After the play and the choir concert, refocus your efforts if necessary. Take this weekend, if you need, to tend to these things. Drill it daily if you must.

I finished yesterday's talk with the thought, "Keep the drama on the stage." Steven Pressfield says it quite well in his book, The War of Art:

The working artist will not tolerate trouble in her life because she knows trouble prevents her from doing her work. The working artist banishes from her world all sources of trouble. She harnesses the urge for trouble and transforms it in her work.

Once you get the grunt work done, then we can truly bask in the joy of making art. But not before.