Last night I had my first performance of the season, as the Perückenmacher (wigmaker) in R. Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. It’s a tiny ‘cough and spit’ role, though very wordy and, thus, awkward. It’s the kind of thing where one just gets thrown downstage to rattle off the line with no chance to ease into or relax. This is not a recording from our production, but the part I sing comes in around the 1:10 mark, and is done about 20 seconds later:
We premiered this production at the end of last season, and so we had only one rehearsal (of the vorspiel, on Monday) for the colleagues who would be singing Musiklehrer (musik teacher) and Komponist (composer) for the first time. It was quite a while between the orchestral dress rehearsal they did back in June! One of the best things about being in an opernstudio is learning from the seasoned singers in a repertory house, learning how they deal with a situation like that, which we would never encounter in a college situation.
In case that didn’t give the performance enough nervous edge, we had three guests doing an ‘einspringen’ (jump-in – ‘covers’ are not common in Germany due to the sheer number and proximity of theatres) due to illness. Both the major roles of Ariadna and Zerbinetta had guests who had sung the parts elsewhere. Unfortunately I didn’t catch the name of the soprano singing Ariadne, however Jennifer O’Loughlin had sung Zerbinetta in this production when it was at the Vienna Volksoper before it came to us. The other guest was a young serbian baritone who jumped in for the small role of Lakai (Lackey) which he’d sung in Mannheim. All were fantastic.
In a case like this, when it is a repertoire piece and the original director no longer there, the responsibility of making sure everyone is in the right place on stage falls to the hausspielleiter, who would have spent several hours yesterday walking the guests through the staging, and was on the side of the stage to remind them of entries and wave at them from the wings if they happened to be in the wrong spot.
My part is only the first half, so I didn’t stick around for the second half, but we all survived the the first half at least! Just another day at the office…