Our Fall Opera this year, the theme titled "Songs of Survival," was a particularly special performance for me last night. I still have an afternoon and an evening show to go throughout today, enjoying playing a lot of violin solos throughout the two pieces I play in, but that's only been part of what has made this production really special to me.
When we were first given Hans Krása's "Brundibár" (1938), we were also shown a 60 Minutes clip that explained the story surrounding the piece. This clip is shown to the audience before we perform the opera during the show, and after seeing the clip before we began rehearsals, I would recount the story again and again to my friends, as it was one that stuck with me. A children's opera that on its surface is very happy and cute (quite the opposite from Ravel's children's opera, I will be honest, as much as I love Ravel!), it is seeped in sadness from the Holocaust, and there are times when I do start tearing up thinking about the conditions the opera was performed in.
However, for me wanting to go into film music, the way we were staged for the show was also something special. Friday night felt like a cabaret night, because the theatre is smaller and boxed in and there was a smaller audience and the smaller chamber orchestra, as opposed to the large symphony. We played a Krása Overture in our traditional orchestral set-up (a separate piece - Krása was, by the way, inspired by Ravel, and I really could tell that from both of the pieces we played), and after the Jenny Lind choir sang and the 60 minutes clip was shown, the violins were pushed to one side of the stage, the cellos, flute and clarinet to the other, and the trumpet and percussion was on a raised platform in the back. This provided the middle of the stage to be used for all the acting. Unlike playing in operas and musicals in past years where I was in the pit, this time I was directly on-stage. I could hear how the story progressed a lot better now, and could see and smile at some of the silly antics of our characters while background music is playing. The lighting changes made more sense, and I could see how props were put on stage and off to represent different scenes. It felt like I was playing in a movie score, and I could see how the story around me changed. It really was exhilarating that first night performing, and I can't wait for today's two performances for a chance to really listen for the story while I perform the score.Tweet
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