For those of us who are fortunate to work in this industry of entertainment, specifically opera, we look forward to those experiences that rise to the highest level of inspiration for us. It is those experiences that made us pursue these careers and make all the hard work pay off. It is those moments backstage with colleagues where we look at each other and say,” this is what we live for”, or “this is why we’re here”. Cendrillon is one of those operas. Opera productions come and go, and we have our favorites, but what is it that makes one production stand out as a special experience for LOSA members behind the scenes and on the stage?
There are so many elements that makeup an opera performance. First, you have the material. The story of Cinderella can be traced back as early as 7BC. The original fairy tale version that became popular was written in 1698 by French author Charles Perrault. It’s charming, enchanting, whimsical and a beautiful love story. Jules Massenet is a clever composer whose music is very expressive and evokes specific emotions. His orchestration is sensitive, exposing certain instruments and voices at all the right moments. With a fabulous libretto by Henri Cain, Cendrillon is off to a good start!
Next, the creative team designs the set, costumes and concept for the production. In this case the main backdrop is the fairy tale book itself with high wooden walls, which is an accoustic dream for singers. The set designer is Barbara de Limburg, and in this productionDirector Laurent Pelly also designed the costumes. It truly is a brilliant vision! As is the case in most French music, ballet and stylistic movement are very important. The original Choreographer was Laura Scozzi.
Rehearsals at Lyric began on November 5th in rehearsal room 200 which is approximately the sizeof the stage. A smaller room with a dancer friendly marley floor is used specifically for ballet and movement rehearsals as well. It is worth noting here that the team almost didn’t agree to bring the production to Lyric Opera of Chicago, because the rehearsal period they were allowed seemed too short for them to accomplish a polished performance at the highest level with all of the detail required. Enter the incredibly talented LOSA members, that seem to repeatedly work miracles under rushed and tense circumstances to produce something so difficult and make it appear easy.
For 2 weeks we rehearsed the show with Associate Director Benoit De Leersnyder and Revival Choreographer Karine Girard. Both of them knew all of the performers names before they met us. Thus began a process where everyone felt important and special. The direction and choreography in this production is very specific, leaving little room for error. The rehearsal process was very physically active, requiring intense focus, but also very fun and collaborative. Many LOSA members would applaud each other at the end of a rehearsal and look forward to the next one. Speaking as a Chorister, in some productions, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd, but Cendrillon gives principals dancers and choristers the opportunity to stand out and be noticed as individuals.
From Directors and Choreographers and their assistants, our stage manager John Colman and assistant stage managers, Cendrillon rehearsals were well organized and efficiently run. In the process, those running the rehearsals showed great passion, patience and love for all involved. In turn, the performers responded by being attentive and open to carrying out the inspiring vision of Laurent Pelly.
We look forward to sharing this beautiful, magical experience with thousands of audience members of all ages. Performances: December 1, 5, 8 and January 11, 17 and 20.
Please go to www.lyricopera.org for tickets.