So, we had the studio run last week and although there were a few rough edges, we have one hell of a show! It’s always great seeing the scenes that you’re not in (for me, the entirety of Act 2) as that’s the work that you don’t see when you’re rehearsing because if you’re not in a scene, you obviously won’t be called for that rehearsal. We all left the relative comfort of the rehearsal studio and headed down to the West Country to the perennial beauty of the Manor. Every time I come here, its gardens, its sculptures, its beguiling charm makes me thankful to be here as a performer. As an itinerant singer, you get to perform on some grand stages but the walk to the performance space, through the beautifully manicured paths of Iford’s Peto gardens, is something that simply can not be beaten! I wandered up to the cloister on my first day here and walked in expecting to find the crew maniacally trying to finish the set – what I (and indeed the director) didn’t expect was to walk into the ready made world of Madama Butterfly. The set is as breathtakingly beautiful as the cloister’s surroundings. It is plush, intriguing, ingenious and moreover has lots of wood so the acoustic is even better!! So…the stage is literally set for us to start work!
We’ve been working our way through the technicalities of costumes, props, lighting etc for the past few days and what we’ve found is that the costumes bring another level of physicality to the performers – the restrictive nature of the kimono mean that the shuffling feet of the singers playing Japanese characters is accentuated. The avuncular warmth of Sharpless’ costume make him even more likeable and the smart and confident cut of my navy outfit allows me a little more swagger! Now, we just have to figure out how to get them off and on in time for our cues!!!
The orchestra arrive tomorrow and also, the children are here too to perform their scenes in Acts 2 and 3 and may I say, what a wonderful bunch of bright and well behaved kids they are – they make their parents and us proud to stand on a stage with them! After tomorrow, it’s the dress rehearsal next where, all guns (or ship cannons!) are blazing, where we perform our show to an invited audience. So it’s hotting up and everyone is being slightly (and rightfully) cautious about singing too much before the time when it’s needed!
It’s a long few days but what keeps us (or at least me!) sane and happy are three things;
- being treated so well and fed so well by the lovely staff at Iford. Other companies – take note!!!
- The professionalism of everyone involved working towards a common goal of making the show as good as it can be. I know everyone’s doing their level best so it spurs me on to do the same.
- And lastly, the beauty of the music we’re singing, which matches the beauty the surroundings. I’m a lucky guy and if I get booed at the end for being the bad guy….so be it. It will all be worth it!