As my internship comes to an end, the hours tick down for the Troubadours premier. The last two days we had our orchestra rehearsal and the last general rehearsal, where a few members from the press where invited to have a sneak peek of the production. It’s all finally come together and running smoothly, the only unpredictable factor being the weather. Last night general rehearsal had to have the final scene cut due to a storm rolling in. But in the theatre world everyone says that if a lot goes wrong during the final rehearsal than the premier will run all the more smoothly. The final session of feedback took place under one of the tents as we all waited out the rain and now the production is out of the hands of the director and will continue on its own like a baby taking its first steps by itself.
Over the past few weeks I’ve learnt so much about theatre in Germany and opera in general and will always be grateful for this opportunity. I’m so happy I was able to be a part of the whole process and even though I’m off to do some travelling around Europe now I can’t wait to find my way back to theatre scene and of course the stage.
Tonight I arrived over an hour early to rehearsal for my hair and makeup time slot. After finding the container where I needed to be I got my smokey ninja eyes and then went off to get changed. Since you can only see our eyes once the costume is on, I wasn’t sitting in the makeup chair for long. Putting the costume on for the first time took some figuring out and help from one of the costume ladies but once we’d figured out that the pants had to be tied over the top robe part, the rest was smooth sailing. The most amusing part of putting the costume on for the first time was finding out that the black t-shirt was for my head and got tied in a way that neck hole sat directly over face and the sleeves were tied off at the black. Safe to say I was surprised at how good it looked finished.
Most of the run through went well, there were just a few kinks in the fight scenes where due to big hats and heavy costume some kicks and flips didn’t work that well. But with more practice and some small adjustments I’m sure it will soon come together.
Hearing the orchestra play and then seeing the costumes has really ignited my excited for the production again because of the huge role they play in bringing the opera together.
After last nights full run through, a fire inspector from the fire brigade came to go through every moment in the production where, you guessed it, fire is used. Andrea one of our stunt girls was there as well to give a demo of her fire chain Poi, which looked amazing, but I’m definitely glad that I don’t have to fight her.
Later we began our second lighting rehearsal for the week and even though it lightly rained a few times, it was still really warm.
Potting lights for me is probably one of the most tedious parts of theatre. It involves someone needing to stand on stage in very position where the performers stand, enter, or sing and then wait for the lights to be programed and set.
If you’re the guy doing the standing around it helps if you know how to entertain yourself. My chosen tactic for last night involved a lot of stretching and singing ABBA songs. On the flip side though we finished early and got to go home at 2am instead of 4am that was planned.
We have now reached crunch time. A week out from the premier and we are now outside, braving the elements and hoping the weather gods are kind to us from now until the 27th of August. The stage looks great, its lowest point standing at over two meters, with the ramp and aqueduct ready to go. The first proper rehearsal on the massive stage began with burning sun, within the hour we had pouring rain, and to end the afternoon more sun. Erfurt’s weather seems to be very similar to Melbourne, my hometown, where the saying goes that we can have ‘four seasons in a day.’
I came a little early to todays rehearsal and in less than 5 minutes I had been asked on stage to be beheaded. Lying over the centre rock Weber conducted a ‘blood’ spray test, thankfully only with water, to see which of the two devices was more effective. In short I began our rehearsal a little damp.
During two scenes the ninja’s carry torches, and originally we were meant to hold them for the entire scenes but after holding the real torches for the first time I’m not sure if that’s even possible. They’re quite heavy and have to held in a very uncomfortable way or else the built in safety measure immediately extinguishes the flame. Since safety is the priority we are going to see how they go and Weber has already made some adjustments in the blocking to make things easier for us.
Tonight we are also going to do a flame test, which I must say I’m almost a little nervous for. But at least we still have a few days to get use to using them so fingers crossed.
Back from our summer break and straight into rehearsals. Luckily enough this weeks rehearsals are still in theatre and not on the Domplatz as its been raining without end.
With the room full to the brim with people, we worked through the whole production from start to finish. This is what I’d been waiting for, because this is when you finally start to see the piece come together and begin to have a sense of its flow. To add to all the other people already on the stage, we also had two press people join us to film parts of the rehearsal. Weber made sure to mention that the clips were recorded without sound to reassure the singers that nothing from the production is heard until the premier on the 10th of August.
As for the life of an opera ninja, I now get thrown around even more than before but luckily our stunt guys really know what they’re doing so I know I’m in good hands.
I also had my first appointment with the makeup department to be fitted for my wig.
Naturally none of the wigs they had on hand fit me as I seem to have a very small head, but I was told not to worry and that by the time I have to be on stage everything will fit perfectly.
Every night our rehearsal room seems to fill with more people as we rehearse larger sections of the production and even though it gets very hot very quickly with so much body heat the show is only getting better and more exciting.
(Anne and Thomas Paul having fun with some bloody Tenor-Eyes…)
Part one of this internship came to a close today. Weber gave us a little speech before our rehearsal began and mentioned how Jackie Chan sings opera, does all his own stunts and is committed to his work like no other.
Until today I had no idea that Jackie Chan sung opera, and even though I wont be singing when I get to be on stage, I’ll definitely still be channelling him for my ninja role.
We worked mainly on the timing of specific moments during the fight scenes and Kim had also brought Korean octopus flavoured chips to share, which tasted a lot better than you first might think.
It’s been fun working with such talented people and having the opportunity to see what the opera business is all about. I can’t wait for this production to hit the stage because I really think this is going to be an awesome performance regardless if you’re an opera freak or not.
(Todd Thomas and Julia Neumann in close combat)