La Scala YAP adventures part 4:
Front row seats…YAY!
I don't give a fach: opera under the influence with a dash of non sequiturs...
Hi! I just saw you in Mamma Mia at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta yesterday. You were amazing, but I'm sure you know that already. I was wondering, what tips might you have for new musical theatre actors? I would love to hear your thoughts! Thanks! :)
Asked by mstynicks
Hey there! Glad you enjoyed the show!
Thank you for your kind words.
The most important advice I can give to new musical theatre actors is to keep practicing, learning and improving on your technique. Acting, singing and dancing are all equally important in this career and the stronger your skills are, the better your chances of getting work are.
Go back and watch all the classics as well as keeping smart on what is going on in the theater world today. But don’t consume yourself in it! There is a life to be had outside of your job!
And last but not least, never lose sight of who YOU are as a performer. You will learn from many, many teachers and co-workers and please take what you can from all of them but always remember to inject YOU into your performances. Never lose sight of your own talents in the midst of thousands of other talented performers. Normal is boring, you are unique!
Best of luck to you and break a leg!!!
Words to live by!
La Divina (December 2, 1923 – September 16, 1977)
There’s a beautiful oil painting of her in the foyer of the Teatro La Finice. When I saw it I felt such reverence. This is the opera house that launched her career! This is where she famously learned the part of Elvira in I Puritani in a single day while completing a run as Brünnhilde in Die Walküre. Talk about a total 180 in terms of repertoire!!!
I remember not being able to buy coffee from a machine because I didn’t have the 30 cents. I performed in every hospital, every nursing home. Once a lady was crying. She said, ‘I have really strong pain, but when you sang, it disappeared.’ And from then, I took what I am doing seriously.
The new Blu-ray/DVD release of “Ariadne aug Naxos” contains two major selling points. The first is opera superstar-hunk Jonas Kaufmann singing the notoriously punishing role of Bacchus. The second is the fact that this is NOT the oft performed 1916 “Ariadne” that audiences have come to regard as the “definitive” version. Rather, it is a sort of restoration of the original 1912 1 act “Ariadne” that is preceded by Molière’s “Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme.” (Sort of.) The director, Sven-Eric Bechtolf, has constructed a clever framing device that takes great liberties with Molière’s original play by opening the events of the evening with a poet who tries to cheer up a recently widowed countess by telling her a story which, just happens to be, “Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme.”
The production is fanciful and creative (if not exactly groundbreaking), and Mr. Bechtolf throws in some inspired bits of staging that yield dividends in terms of pure entertainment value. But the concept feels a tad overwrought.
Musically speaking, it’s a fascinating listen. Yes, the wonderfully lush overture is now gone, but in return we get to hear some of the beautiful incidental music that Strauss composed to accompany “Gentillome.” Those who are familiar with “Ariadne,” will enjoy hearing the small musical differences in act 2 as well.
In some ways, Molière’s play is a better set up for the opera proper. Though we are denied some of Strauss’ best music from the prologue, the play provides more of a context. The richest man in Vienna, a philistine with pretensions that lean toward the upper crust, decides to throw an extravagant party. For his guests, he commissions an opera-seria based on the legend of “Ariadne,” which he finds too dreary, so he decides to throw in a Commedia Dell’arte troupe and a flashy fireworks show.
One of the major complaints about “Ariadne” is that the mix of tragedy and comedy feels incongruent (I disagree). But the play provides an excellent reason to mix Commedia Dell’arte with grand opera. In addition, the play provides a fascinating insight into what it meant to be bourgeois in the eyes of the society around the time Strauss’ opera takes place.
Sven-Erik Bechtolf keeps the drama moving at a lithe, buoyant pace. Rolf Glittenburg’s arid, imposing drawing room set is comely, if not ravishing. There are touches of surreal imagery, the costumes are surreal, exaggerated rococo mixed with some modern dress. (The period is never really specified, but that’s not really an issue.)
The real news her is Mr. Kaufmann’s Bacchus. Singing with his famous tenor (which continues to darken with baritonal depths) this was a Bacchus worth celebrating. The role is typically a mere test of endurance. For a tenor to simply get through this tessitura-taxing part is an accomplishment in and of itself. Mr. Kaufmann more than rises to the challenge, he actually manages to bring nuance and artistry to Strauss’ lyrical outpourings in the final moments of the opera.
Alas, the same cannot be said for the rest of the cast. Emily Magee’s rich, dramatic soprano is ideally suited to the part of Ariadne, but her expressively barren performance undercuts her luscious singing. Elena Mosuc’s shrill, metallic sound banishes all hopes for a winning Zerbinetta. Still, this is Mr. Kaufmann’s show, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Attempting to watch “Les Misérables.” This will be the first time I’ve seen the film since I saw it in theaters and swore I would never watch it again. (Oh, the promises we make.) So far it’s a big list of “stills.” Hugh Jackman still can’t sing, Anne Hathaway is still cloying, Russell Crowe still doesn’t seem to know what film he’s in, the direction is still a hodgepodge of uncomfortable cross-cuts and closeups and the musical is still the same, loud, heaving pile of saccharine that landed on Broadway so many years ago. The difference is the film doesn’t have Trevor Nunn’s ingenious staging to mask it’s shabbier bits.