24 Hours in the Life of a New Opera

So you want to produce a new opera? Do you hanker after the artistic satisfaction that comes from shepherding a work of art from creation to performance? Ever wonder how the magic happens? Come along for the ride.

Thursday, April 21

2:30pm: Check in on orchestra reading.  All on track.

2:40pm: Learn that one of our principal singers has received a difficult diagnosis from the ENT. What we had hoped were allergies is far more complicated. Nothing that 6-8 weeks of absolute silence won’t cure. Mixed news to be sure.

2:45pm: Contact the cover (understudy) and let her know that she’ll have to sing both her original supporting role and her cover role at tonight’s technical rehearsal. God bless her for nerves of steel.

2:50pm: Sit on this information until the conductor and composer are done with the orchestra rehearsal. Make contingency plans.

3:10pm: Contact Wolf Trap Education colleagues who are scheduled to move into the rehearsal space we are supposed to vacate tonight. Negotiate sharing usage tomorrow for singer replacement staging rehearsals.

3:30pm: Interviews with The Washington Post, as previously scheduled.

4:20pm: Start contacting singers who might be able to show up in less than 24 hours and learn the supporting role.

5:10pm: Drive composer to hotel. Brainstorm.

5:50pm: Do a surprise video interview. Bad clothes and dirty hair. Distracted.

6:05pm: Notify costume shop that their Easter weekend may be more complicated than we had expected.

6:20pm: Check in with my admin colleague, who is managing a visiting video crew and setting up our own archival video.

6:25pm: Confirm plans with new cast member who has amazingly agreed to get in her car and drive here from Cincinnati first thing tomorrow morning.

6:55pm: Deliver the bad news to the cast, assembled in the green room. Find the appropriate way to mix regret over our departing colleague with support for her replacement.

7:10pm: Take photos during Piano Dress rehearsal for submission to reporters who may be submitting preview pieces this week.

8:45pm: On rehearsal break, try to catch next week’s program before it goes to the printer to make cast changes.

8:55pm: Back to taking photos and making supertitle notes.

11:00pm: End of rehearsal, beginning of production notes. Edit down the video from tonight’s performance to email audio clips to singer driving from Cincinnati in the morning.

11:35pm: Make supertitle edits, print out new pages for orchestra parts reflecting changes made in this afternoon’s rehearsal.

Friday, April 22

8:45am: Off to American University, where I have the privilege of being on the thesis committee for our intern Zack Hayhurst. Great presentation, oddly enough, on 21st century American opera. Living the dream, we are :)  (Glimmerglass is taking Zack for the summer, but he may be available after that. Hire him.)

12:50pm: Airport transpo and apartment turnover.

2:15pm: Back to the office to print some more orchestra parts for tonight’s Sitzprobe.


Music, paperwork, surprises, photos, interviews, laundry, problem-solving, long days. Opera in the 21st century.


Update 4/24/11 – Two days and lots of goodwill and hard work later, we have a new Sarelda and a new Bobachino, and we are looking forward to dress rehearsal tomorrow and premiere on Wednesday!

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