In some ways, this feels like a normal summer. There are singers onsite, we are rehearsing a bevy of musical projects, the epic Virginia heat and humidity has kicked up a notch.
In more ways, this is a deeply different experience. Our singers have been onsite for one week, and in this last week we’ve all learned so much! The challenges of making music in small groups, after the weeks of quarantine here and at home, has been welcomed by our artists, but not without some internal struggles. Singing outdoors at the decks in the park has been a lovely way to mitigate the need for enclosed spaces: this week’s heat wave is making those options less attractive. Conserving strength, staying open and flexible while the world outside grows more difficult? It’s a challenge, but one that our singers are meeting well.
I hope you saw the Aria Jukebox broadcast on Saturday evening. For those of you who stuck with us through the technical difficulties and delayed start, here’s a big THANK YOU from me to you! If you’ve not had a chance to tune in, please feel free to do so at your convenience for some truly compelling performances from our Filene Artists.
And yesterday, our company sang for over 50 agents, artistic directors and conductors from the US, Canada, the UK, France and Germany in our first set of virtual colleague auditions. As the first young artist company to test this virtual audition approach, we were pleased to not only get strong feedback about the quality of our 2020 singers, but also about the audition structure and experience itself.
We will be streaming a few more opportunities for you to get to know our singers. This Wednesday, July 22 our Filene Artist in Residence Denyce Graves will give a masterclass for four of our Studio Artists. Due to this heat wave, we have changed the time of the stream to 11am, but please know that you’ll be able to see it at 11am, or at 3pm, or truly any time you choose; the stream will be available in the weeks to come. (We’ll obviously skip Little Lunch Music this Wednesday, but it will be back on Friday at 11am from the Meadow Pavilion.) Please find us on Facebook, Instagram or wolftrap.org/opera to get the latest!
I don’t mean to portray this summer as business-as-usual. Our safety protocols, the epic logistics behind the rehearsal schedule, even our usual production timelines have been skewed in a vastly different manner. The skills that are needed on and behind the stage are in many cases newly acquired, and the absence of audience energy and feedback in real time is a loss felt keenly. Merriam-Webster defines the noun “ensemble” as “a group producing a single effect.” And indeed, much of what we strive for in a normal summer falls under that banner. Each performance is constituted of a group of artists and audiences: the artists create a magical world, and the audience’s attention to that world for a few hours provides an alchemy that brings the world to life. The reciprocal energies from performers and audience harmonize in the moment to create something anew every performance. And that alchemy is the part that’s missing: we are missing you.