By Alison Moritz, Director of The Magic Flute.
The schedule for this production of The Magic Flute has been a bit unusual. We began rehearsals last Thursday, and staged the entire opera with chorus, children, and supernumeraries only. Here’s a peek into our process so far:
Thursday, October 29
The day begins with me finding much needed coffee at Bluff City Coffee, just a block from where I’m staying. (My neighborhood is great! Just look at this sign I found nearby.) Next, we have a production meeting to discuss costumes, lights, props, scenery, and scheduling. The lighting designer Jeremy Allen Fisher and I get particularly excited about some of the lighting effects we’re trying to create for Sarastro and the Queen of the Night.
In the afternoon, we have short rehearsals with two of our local principal singers – Chelsea Miller (Queen of the Night) and David Schnell (Monostatos). We even put Chelsea in the real headdress and cape from her costume, just so she can get used to how they feel while she’s singing. Because Chelsea looks a bit young to be someone’s mother, she and I have decided that this Queen’s youthfulness and glamour are part of her “magic” – she’s like the Witch in Into the Woods or maybe even like Dorian Gray. The more evil she becomes, the more beautiful she is.
In the evening, we stage two scenes with the chorus. It was fantastic to meet them and hear how long some of them have been singing with the opera. I was particularly touched to hear that two of our choristers drive three hours each way to come to rehearsal.
Friday, October 30
Director of Production and Stage Manager extraordinaire Erin Craig gives me a tour of the Germantown Performing Arts Center (and of the Starbucks nearby). We head back to the Opera Memphis to look through all the costumes that have arrived with Sona Amroyan-Peric. We discuss a few changes and adjustments – everyone is particularly excited for the children who will be acting as jungle animals.
I meet with Resident Artist Dominic Johnson, who is playing the Speaker. Dominic and I talk about the cuts in the dialogue – this is an ongoing process. We want everything to feel like it moves quickly, but we don’t want to cut out too much of the story!
Saturday, October 31
Happy Halloween! We begin the morning playing dress up with our children jungle animals. This is pretty much the best thing ever. In the afternoon, we finish staging the opera with the chorus and then run all the chorus scenes in order. I can’t believe that we’ve accomplished so much in just a few short rehearsals!
I meet with our two young casts of Three Spirits. The Spirits are the mystical genii-like figures who guide Tamino on his journey. It’s really fun to see what the kids do naturally, and to figure out how to incorporate it into the staging. The kids keep asking if they’re going to fly in this production. When we tell them no, they ask if they can be brought onstage by a sled pulled by chickens instead.
I told them I’d think about it.
Want more Alison magic? Be on the lookout for her upcoming posts, and checkout the preceding post here.