|Guest blogger Henry Choo|
The Pearlfishers is an opera that scares me. Not because of the operatic work per se but because of the things that people have told me about it.
One particular story that has been acutely burned into my mind is that of a principal opera singer in France who had allegedly been approached by another saying,
“Your voice is like a pearl; all white, with an ‘ole in the middle.”
Our rehearsal studio isn’t nearly as cold, though it is somewhat sparse. Six strategically placed wooden pillars represent the side-walls, and coloured gaffa-tape on the floor represent flowing curtains and gauzes that divide the rehearsal space into “front, middle and back”. There’s a large blue rock with intricate carvings on the front, and also a golden plinth-like structure that dominates the room.
|Photo by Henry Choo|
The silence that precedes the conductor’s first down-beat is broken by a peculiar sound… squeak, squeak, squeak. Everybody turns to look toward the source. Repetiteur Jennifer Marten-Smith holds up her hands and says “It’s not me! It’s the pedal!”
Stage Management comes to the rescue with a can of WD40. A few moments later the squeaking pedal is silenced and the rehearsal can recommence.
The sounds of beautiful singing, interspersed with peals of laughter, is all that can be heard.
Today’s full-run of the opera is sans the 40-strong chorus. The absence of chorus is a strange scenario for me, since my opening scene involves interaction with the male chorus.
Nevertheless, the full-run goes well and we crowd around the rehearsal director, Luise Napier, like footballers around their coach at half-time. This is the critical end of a rehearsal; where we’re told what we did well, and what we could have done better. Our conductor, Ollivier Cuneo, patiently waits his turn to address us whilst language coach, Marie-Clare, continues to pen her individualised notes in her flowing script.
The final studio rehearsal has concluded – the first two rehearsal weeks of four are up. Next stop is a full-company piano dress rehearsal on the State Theatre Stage at the Arts Centre. I take my rehearsal notes and weary body home. I am looking forward to my day off tomorrow.
The Pearlfishers opens at the Arts Centre, Melbourne, on 4 May 2011. For more about performance dates, cast details and ticket prices, click here.