Just a few thoughts about dell'Arte Opera's just completed production of Anna Bolena, the idea of artistic 'post-partem' and what it feels like to be looking almost a full year in advance...
The challenge of presenting such a challenging work as AB ranks for me up there with things that look far more complicated on the page, like Ariadne auf Naxos or Little Women. The difference here is that style is everything, and bel canto style just isn't really much a part of any standard curriculum, whether in schools or vocal studios or even coaching studios. Most of the time, a singer brings us an aria and we just try and get them through that piece and the singer misses out on the basic stylistic elements that can apply across the board to other repertoire. This week, getting back to a few private coaching sessions, it was refreshing (and hopefully useful) to find myself using the working style that helped the cast and covers through such a huge piece as AB without an aneurysm. For a long time I've prided myself on correcting details as broader concepts, but it's just too easy to fall into the trap of fixing things fast and moving on. It may push the singer out the door with those 3 minutes of aria sounding more accurate, but it doesn't make them a better artist. I have to congratulate each of the cast members of AB, because they went with the idea: each one of them not only sang their roles well, but also came out on the other side with stronger process, and much better knowledge of the style.
We all suffer once in awhile from artistic 'post-partem.' Sometimes, we miss the people, sometimes the characters, and sometimes just the whole intensity of a particular project. This particular time, it's the principal cast that I miss, since watching each of them grow has been such a joy. They all have other projects to move on to, as do I, but the process is the thing, and I'm as grateful to them for the journey as I secretly hope they are to me.
This particular time, however, there's not much time to be gloomy about the end of the production. Auditions for our summer program start next weekend, and we're already getting our proverbial ducks in a row for the next winter production (Konigskinder). Searching for the right venue, meeting with the director and prospective costume designer, seeking co-producers... It's exciting to have a solid plan for dell'Arte for a year in advance, but also a little overwhelming. I'm reminded again of my New Year's Resolution: Ask for and Accept Help!