What type of clinician would you like SNATS to provide in Spring 2018?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Listening assignments

Darling voice students, remember that you are each required to listen to four hours total of classical singing this (and every) semester. Those of you who have posted YouTube links on your Google doc, thank you. Those of you who were at SNATS meetings when we watched The Audition, please email me to remind me how many hours you were there. Those of you who were at my Convocation get 45 minutes toward your listening assignment (I'll check attendance: feel free to email me if you'd like to be sure I know you were there). Those of you who would like a listening day one week from today on "dead day," please post here and indicate what time would work for you. I would be willing to do one hour, maybe two.

Remember that if you're singing an aria from an opera this semester, a great way to get at least some of your listening done is to listen to the whole opera, score or libretto in hand! It also helps you get a fuller sense of your character.

I'll see all of you at Callie and Micah's Excellent Adventure tonight. Love y'all madly!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

UAB wins second place at NOA

Congratulations to the 2011 cast of Amahl and the Night Visitors: you placed second in the National Opera Association opera production competition! It was truly a dream cast, and I'm truly proud of all of you. Bravi tutti!

NO viewing of WIDOW DVD today

Folks, we'll meet NEXT Tuesday (not today) at 3:30 to watch the DVD. See you in Hulsey Recital Hall for our last hurrah!

Monday, November 26, 2012

WIDOW DVD viewing

Darlings, the earliest we can watch a DVD tomorrow is 4:30. Please post here if that works for you, or if you'd rather wait till next Tuesday (Thursday this week is out, after all). Thanks!

Monday, November 19, 2012

WIDOW cast: From Les

Darlings,

We'll meet today at 3:30 to load the van and truck. Please spread the word!

This email arrived today from Les:


Thank you so much for the sweet notes and many kind words, but please don't forget that it was you who did the truly "heavy lifting" to make this production such a success. Beginning with your earnest study of the music back in August through your constant refinements in dialogue, timing, dancing and characterizations, you made this a show for everyone to love. In so many ways, comic opera is much harder to pull off than drama, and a good deal of that is the right sense of timing: your timing was razor sharp, which was confirmed by the energy of the audience reaction, particularly on Saturday night. Equally important, though, was your perseverance in musical preparation. While we had a few moments that were somewhat disconnected, it never felt as though we were headed for a "train wreck," because even when my focus had to leave the stage to deal with an ensemble difficulty in the orchestra, your consistently solid preparation made it possible for us to quickly find a convenient meeting place in the music. My heartfelt thanks to you all for allowing me to be a happy traveler on another wild and wonderful ride! Have safe and Happy Holidays.

Fondly,

~Les

Congratulations, WIDOW folks!

Darling students,

As the post-performance glow and fatigue start to fade, I wanted to tell you again how proud I am of all of you. You put on two very entertaining shows this past weekend, and the second was even stronger than the first. You followed direction and filled the stage more beautifully on closing night, and it made a real difference not only visually, but it really helped your voices carry into the house in dialogue and in the musical numbers. You incorporated many of the final details I asked, and I applaud you.

It was gratifying to see you grow in your characters: every single one of you made strong choices. During the group scenes, it was wonderful to see each of you developing very clear, personal stories with each other. People I was sitting next to were commenting on how interesting each of those scenes were because of it! Some people noted the marital spats, some the flirting, some noticed the rock/paper/scissors bit...all of you were interesting and committed, and that's one of the most important aspects of theatre. Your gorgeous ensemble singing was also noted by some who grew up going to concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra, so that's high praise!

One of the most beautiful things in this show, though, was your spirit and the camaraderie you developed in the last days of the show. It truly warmed my heart to see you all hugging backstage after the show, helping each other with makeup, and working as an absolute team through the scene shifts. Even the final whoop of triumph when the last score was erased was an indication that you were all in this together, and that, my friends, is what it's all about. I loved that there was no complaining about the final requirements of a show...some people do bellyache about it, and they miss out when they don't realize that it's all part of the process. You embraced it all, and I love you for it.

Thank you very much for the many cards, chocolates, and flowers. You have no idea how much they mean to me, and I cherish each and every one (and I keep all of them. But not the chocolate...that's rapidly disappearing!). I will pass along your cards to Julia and Joe, and am glad and touched that you included them in your thanks.

I am grateful to have walked this path with you. Thank you for stretching beyond your comfort zones, for working as hard as you did with such delightful energy, and for being the beautiful people that you are. Stay tuned for the DVD viewing day, which will be sometime after Thanksgiving. I know that, at my table this year, I'll be giving thanks for you.

Love y'all madly!




Sunday, November 18, 2012

Kudos for WIDOW cast

Folks, the emails started arriving less than an hour after the show closed. Here's one from Dr. Kasman (a pretty tough critic, so this is high praise):


You have done a fantastic job! Great production! Fun and professional. Congratulations!


From a friend of mine who has been coming for three years:

That was a blast - the kids' enjoyment of what they were doing was evident.  Very polished production. Loved it :-) 


And from our interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences:


Delightful! Please congratulate the cast for me.


I'll write you a love note of my own to you soon...right now, I'm reveling in the joy that was working with you. Happy Sunday.



Friday, November 16, 2012

Bravi, WIDOW cast members!

Folks, I was so proud of you last night. The show had many wonderful moments comically, dramatically, and vocally. Your energy and professionalism were right where they should be. The scene change before Act 3 was seamless and timed out perfectly. A solid, successful premiere!

As always, there are things you can do to make the next performance even better. Your job is to take tomorrow night to the next level. Here are some thoughts:

Diction, diction, diction. There were folks in the audience who said they felt like they missed 60% of the jokes because they couldn't quite hear you or couldn't understand you. This is especially true in dialogue and sung solo lines. Project every word and overdo consonants, especially finals. This is not a new idea! Chorus, you're generally fine, but don't get lazy.

Everyone, really watch Les. There were a few moments when your fabulous energy was pushing the orchestra. Enjoy every moment, rather than rushing through it.

Remember to hit your marks: don't do anything new. You want to be predictable in terms of where you go and when, but absolutely fresh in terms of how you listen and react as if it's the first time. If I've told someone to do something specific because it's great, don't try to copy it: imitation on stage doesn't work. Be your unique selves with choices that are yours.

Solo folks, sing with your fullest sound and most active diction. The orchestra is still loud at times, and we need to hear you. Don't push, but please don't hold back: give 100% energy.

We'll allow for applause at moments where you seemed eager to go on, but the audience wanted to show its appreciation. Les will allow for applause after "Vilja," so watch for the chorus cue afterward. Njegus, please allow for applause after Camille and Valencienne go into the pavilion. There may be other places: be flexible, and we'll discuss tomorrow. This is a lovely problem to have, folks!

Ladies, please bring an extra pair of stockings. If yours tear, we can't have knee-highs on stage. Ladies of color, you can go without stockings. Remember to cross your legs at the ankles, not at the knees.

Gregg, slow down your dialogue and enunciate, especially in Act One. You're too good for us not to understand every word.

Njegus, speak EVERY line at the level of "well, perhaps initially..." (except the whispered line, of course). We don't want to miss one syllable, and now that I've heard you really project your text, I won't settle for less!

Jake, watch Les in the Act 2 finale during rant #2. You had the same problem as usual when under stress. Count and watch Les.

Men in "Girls," you stole the show! Bravi. Grisettes, you were great, but you can do the same thing if you step it up a notch. Keep the energy up and let each entrance top the previous one in terms of your energy. Remember to get your faces out! See if you can match the height of your leg kicks in the kickline. Try not to stomp when you get energetic (you know who you are).

In general, the cast as a whole was too far upstage, and this was more apparent last night than in rehearsal. I was sitting in the balcony in the final dress as well as last night, and saw many more empty pools of light downstage last night. It seemed like you were unconsciously hiding from the audience! Remember to fill in all the spaces of the stage, including downstage. This is especially important if you have solo lines in big group scenes: Les is doing his best to hold down the volume of the orchestra, but the further upstage you go, the more your sound disappears. Get downstage so your voices can get out into the house.

More joy at the close of Act 3! I've given Han and Dan permission for one more kiss at the end: everyone else, really congratulate them, celebrate your own reconciled marriage, etc. The stage should be full of all sorts of fireworks.

Zeta, Val, and Camille, take time in bows. Men, each of you bow separately, trying to one-up each other. Then both of you remember to gesture for Val's bow simultaneously, let her bow, then do the bit with her choosing Zeta.

Rest up tonight. Know that I love each and every one of you madly, and am wildly proud of how far you've come.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Final dress tonight

Darlings, you were real pros yesterday. Thank you for your work on and backstage. Let's aim for the quickest scene change possible between Acts 2 and 3 today, just to see if we can do it without an intermission. If we can trim it to 5 minutes, I think we can keep the audience in their seats.

Remember all costume pieces, right down to your undergarments and socks. Final photos are today. See you 4:30 call time! Love y'all madly.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Tuesday piano dress

1pm call. Bring your stuff, all of it: shirts, tuxes, shoes, stockings or socks, Spanx, makeup, etc. Remember this is a photo shoot as well as a dress rehearsal. And as always, don't forget your good attitudes! Thanks for all you did tonight: you were fabulously helpful and rocked on the scene shifts. Sleep well, and see you tomorrow.

Tuxes tonight: 5pm call

Guys, remember your tuxes and shoes tonight! 5pm call for all. I reminded BK of your absences this week, and he assured me you are all excused. See you at 5!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Costumes today! Really.

Folks, as soon as you're back from Montgomery, come get fitted if you have not already. Amanda is feeling better and will be in the dressing rooms next to the stage in Sirote. Please do this before we begin at 3:30 today. Bring your tuxes, guys. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A few things: WIDOW cast

Costume update: Amanda got off work tomorrow, so she will be in my office starting at 1 Wednesday. If you can, stop in tomorrow afternoon to get fitted.

Also, someone left a tux in a heap on the floor in Sirote. I assume you'll need it for Thursday's performance, so you might want to go get it. As promised, I did NOT clean up after you.

Nice work today, folks!

Costume fittings today: time change!

Folks, Amanda is here today UNTIL 1:00, not starting at 1. If you can come by my office between now and then, that would be wonderful. Apologies for the miscommunication!

Thought for the day

"Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day."
Letters to a Young Poet - Rainer Marie Rilke

Monday, November 5, 2012

Rehearsal this week

We're in the final stretch! Now is the time to think like a marathon runner: pace yourselves, be smart, and stay focused. The plan this week is as follows:

Thursday, we'll pick up where we left off Tuesday and finish the show. 3:30-6:30 pm.

Friday will be another run-through, beginning at 2:30. If we need to stay past 5:30, we will, as it will be our last rehearsal before the orchestra arrives.

Saturday is a cue-to-cue, no singing, but dancing included. No white shirts or things with logos. This is a day to bring patience: it's a lot of standing around, listening carefully for cues to move, and staying in character when you start to feel tired. There will be a lunch break: plan to go somewhere FAST (not Al's, please: every year we do this and every year you are LATE returning! Pick somewhere else, something fast, or order pizza. Thanks.).

Sunday is a Sitzprobe with the orchestra: sing through the show without blocking. Be early, warmed up, and in your seats by 1:45 for a 2pm downbeat. Bring your scores.

Monday is a Wandelprobe with orchestra, 7pm downbeat. Do the show in costume pieces as needed (shoes, jackets if needed to props, etc.) but not full costume or makeup. Be here no later than 6:30 to be ready to begin at 7pm.

Tuesday's piano dress is in costume and makeup, and will include a photo shoot. Downbeat is 3:30 sharp so you have time to eat before Dr. Mosteller's and Dr. Kasman's recital at 7pm. Be ready, be gorgeous, and put on a real performance. Plan ahead for makeup so there isn't a long line for Joe.

Wednesday's final dress rehearsal with the orchestra is also a photo shoot. 7pm downbeat: the dressing rooms will be open at 5:30. Ditto on last night's notes re: makeup.

Thursday's and Saturday's performances are at 7:30 pm. Dressing rooms will be open at 5:30. Everyone is entitled to TWO comp tickets, which you can claim at the box office.

You know the drill: get enough sleep, take your vitamins, eat well, wear deodorant, and wash your hands often. And as I said last night, now is the time to be kind to one another. Remember that tempers are short and we're all stressed. Leave any diva attitude at the door, and keep the drama on the stage.

And remember that I love y'all MADLY.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Rehearsal today

Today we'll walk the whole show from 2:30-3:30.
(Houston leaves at 2:50 for one hour, John arrive no later than 3:15, Nole will try to come for this hour if possible. No other surprises, please.) The rest of the day is as follows:

3:30-3:40 Ella and Jake dance only
3:40-4 Act I finale dance only (4 couples: replace Misha/Mike with Zeta/Courtney)
4-4:15 Act II opening dance only (3 couples)
4:15-4:45 Grisettes
4:45-5:30 men in #9 musical number
5:30-6 All of Han and Dan's dancing, to clarify differences between songs

Everyone, please be a few minutes early to the dance portions. Of we run early, we'll start early: if not, you'll be there early enough to walk through steps in the shop or green room. Thanks.

Simple practicing mistakes and how to fix them

When in doubt, re-read your "How to practice" sheet, given to you the first Friday class of the semester.  More tips from a pro (...