Monday, July 17, 2006
The First Sitzprobe
The word Sitzprobe is German; meaning “sitting rehearsal.” It happens once we’ve learned the staging and have become more comfortable with our roles. Typically it takes place in the opera house with the singers seated on stage and the orchestra in the pit. Because this is a summer festival, The Greater Good is not the only show that needs stage time. For this first Sitzprobe we couldn’t rehearse in the opera house, so it was important to remember that the balances will be different in the real space. We sat behind the brass, which was intense. At some points they were just blasting away at us. Thankfully it won’t be like that in performances!
A Sitzprobe is the first time the singers and the orchestra come together. It’s been really satisfying to finally hear all of the colors we’ve been imagining this whole time. Stephen (composer) put so many great indicators in the vocal score telling us what the orchestration was, but hearing it in person is a totally different thing. As a singer, it is much easier to have the orchestra there because the tones sustain more. A piano is a percussive instrument, so you’ll hear the note at first but then it dissipates so quickly. It can be hard to keep afloat sometimes in that situation. Fortunately we have two Sitzprobes for this show. Usually there is only one, but since this is a brand new piece, it will be nice to have a second chance to focus on the music. For the first Sitzprobe we focused on act one, which, according to the Maestro, is much more intricate and complicated than the second act. It makes a lot of sense dramatically because in the first act there are a lot of surprises for the characters. In the second act we sort of settle into this depressive state. You feel everyone’s pulse slowing down. Musically speaking, it is terribly effective.
1. Liam Moran (M. Follenvie) and Dorothy Byrne (Mme. Follenvie) at the first Sitzprobe.