Author Topic: My first opera! The Magic Flute  (Read 8005 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

SFBaySM

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 9
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Experience: Professional
My first opera! The Magic Flute
« on: Mar 24, 2007, 09:10 am »
Hi there! 

I am a college student  studying stage management.  I've been SM/ASM/PA for several shows, and production manager/asst. for 3 festivals.  The closest I've ever come to an opera is musical theatre...which I suppose has some parallels, but it's definitely a different world. 

Starting next week I am stage managing the music department's annual opera - The Magic Flute.  I am mediocre at reading music, but obviously working on that.  I'm on spring break right now and intend to listen to the music and follow the score as much as humanly possible. 

I'm sure I'll come up with specific questions as the rehearsal process progresses, but for now I'm looking for any advice you might have for a newbie.  What are some key differences between SMing a straight play and an opera?  I will be calling off of the score, so I know to get extremely comfortable with that.  The singers have been rehearsing music since September, and I *think* some staging has taken place, but I'm not certain.  The director is a little slow responding my emails...

So, any advice you have is great, especially if you've worked on this particular opera  Thanks :)

Maribeth

  • Superstar!
  • *****
  • Posts: 1018
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AEA
  • Experience: Former SM
Re: My first opera! The Magic Flute
« Reply #1 on: Mar 24, 2007, 12:16 pm »
there was a discussion a while back about suggestions for opera- http://smnetwork.org/forum/index.php/topic,1249.0.html . it mentions some good ideas.

the thing that helps me the most in opera is timing out the score. sit down with your book and either the cd or if possible, during rehearsal, and mark out timings- either every 30 seconds or some people do every 15 seconds. it will make your life a lot easier later on. :) i would make sure to ask the conductor or director about any cuts they are planning on making- most of the time they will take out something, and this will affect your timings.

it's also good to know how to identify where you are in the score- when someone asks you for a placement in the score you should able to tell them the page number, system number, and measure. often, the conductor will have a full orchestra score and the page numbers won't match up with everyone else's vocal score. if the score has rehearsal numbers, i usually highlight them. it might be a good idea to find out if they are planning on using rehearsal numbers.

definitely taking care of the singers in rehearsal is a good ideas. cough drops, hot water for tea, etc etc. if the stage is dusty, spraying down the air with water. it will be appreciated.

one of the big differences between theatre and opera is that usually the stage manager in opera will call the show from backstage. (obviously some people do this in theatre as well,). one of the responsibilities of the opera SM is to cue every entrance. it's helpful to have an ASM on the other side of the stage to cue those entrances. every singer entrance should be marked in your book (and your ASM's book). if you have access to a PA system to the dressing rooms, it's helpful to page the singers to backstage at 5 minutes before their entrance cue. i also like to put a warning in at 2 minutes before their entrance so that if they aren't there in time you can send someone after them.

check out the thread at the top- it has some of these suggestions and others.

LisaEllis

  • Guest
Re: My first opera! The Magic Flute
« Reply #2 on: Mar 24, 2007, 10:36 pm »
Are you doing it in German or English?  Do you have the cuts?  Do you have the dialogue changes?

Flute is one of those with ALOT of spoken dialogue, which is often cut, changed, and rearranged.
It can also be a very technically heavy show, with effects and several scene changes.  Many of the little scenes are usually designed to be in 1, so you can do the bigger scene change behind and then reveal.  The chorus in not on alot, it's mostly principals.  The dragon at the beginning, the trials of fire and water near the end, and the Queen of the Night's entrance all have the potential to be complicated affairs.  It just depends on the design and the directors intentions.

Doing your scene breakdown and tabbing your score with arias will help you jump around, since the scenes are choppy, and you will probably not work strictly in order.  Find out where you're taking the intermission....I forget how it's written, but your's could be in a different place for whatever reason.

There are usually a couple of Supers who are slaves and follow Monastatos around.  Otherwise I guess a couple chorus guys could double, but it means costume changes.

Heavy Masonic references in everything; it's about Masonic ideals and rituals.

The 3 Genii are usually kids or teenage girls...since you're in a college, it might be the smallest girls they could cast.  Tamino is the tenor and Pamina is the soprano, but Papageno is the crowd favorite and has to be the funny guy.  Monastatos also has to be funny.  The Queen of the Night has the vocal fireworks, but isn't onstage a whole lot.

Good luck!  I hope you have fun with it.

SFBaySM

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 9
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Experience: Professional
Re: My first opera! The Magic Flute
« Reply #3 on: Mar 26, 2007, 12:45 am »
Thank you both - I now have a LOT of questions to go ask my director....!

 ???

Oh, and my ASM just emailed me to say she may be dropping the show...great.... :'(

ljh007

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 340
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: SMA
Re: My first opera! The Magic Flute
« Reply #4 on: Mar 26, 2007, 02:10 pm »
The Magic Flute is an absolute beast of an opera. As other posters have mentioned, it can get tech heavy, so find out early what you'll be dealing with onstage.

Get a recording, prep your score thoroughly, and spend time following it every single day. Whether you're in rehearsal or not, sit with the score and try to get through the opera every few days. You'll identify the hard sections quickly enough. You must must must be able to follow the music impeccably to get this one up without losing your mind. If you are new to opera, this is definitely a score in which you'll want to mark to yourself where you need to begin speaking the cues so that everything is called perfectly. Stay close to your Maestro throughout rehearsals and stay on top of cuts and tempi.

sammy

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 15
    • View Profile
Re: My first opera! The Magic Flute
« Reply #5 on: Mar 31, 2007, 05:04 am »
Call your director, or if possible, visit in person...

liamproche

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 16
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: AGMA
  • Current Gig: PSM-FGO
  • Experience: Professional
Re: My first opera! The Magic Flute
« Reply #6 on: Mar 31, 2007, 02:05 pm »
There are a few key differences that need to be taken into account when SMing an opera. (Please disregaurd of the following information that you are already aware of.)

First and foremost, performers do not take their own entrances. They must be cued by an ASM. This usually requires 2 ASMs for a production (one SL one SR.) They must also be paged to the stage from their dressing rooms. I believe the standard is 5min before their entrance for principals, 10min for chorus and supers. (super= supernumerary, a non-singing, non-speaking actor in an opera.)

An absolutely vital tool you will need to impliment is timing intervals in your score. These can be done in either 15sec or 30sec incriments throughout each act. These incriments become vital when paging performers, organizing quick-changes, and planning scene shifts. (Usually these incriments will not vary more than 5secs from run to run depending on the experience of the maestro). They can either be taken off of a recording of the opera, or during the first run (a more accurate way to go about it.)

There is also some paperwork that will be required that I don't think is standard in musical theatre such as the WWW (Who, what, where). This is a sequencial listing of ALL entrances and exits in the show along with the corresponding page/system/measure of where they occur in the score, and is usually complete with prop notes as well as quick-change information (who, time alloted, etc.) Feel free to pm me for an example.

Also, remember that supertitles are their own department in opera and will need to be included in the rehearsal reports. (It may take a little practice to recognize situations that would effect these such as: dialogue changes, certain blocking arrangements, and some prop changes.)

Hope this was helpful, and good luck :-)!
« Last Edit: Apr 13, 2007, 08:30 pm by liamproche »

ljh007

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 340
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: SMA
Re: My first opera! The Magic Flute
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2007, 07:22 pm »
So...
How's Flute going?
This is a really killer opera. I didn't want to tell you at first, but many professional opera SMs live in fear of this one.  ;D

I hope your production is going well!
Toi toi toi

SFBaySM

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 9
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Experience: Professional
Re: My first opera! The Magic Flute
« Reply #8 on: Jun 05, 2007, 05:04 am »
Sorry I never got back to posting this thread.  We actually closed yesterday, every performance was sold out house.  Apparently this is a first for the department!

The show went amazingly well, and I learned a lot more than I expected to on day one.  But a lot of the suggestions you gave just didn't apply to our production.  I really felt like this was run more like a musical than an opera.

There were 3 kinds of rehearsals - music, dialog (pronunciation/etc), and staging.  I only had to attend staging rehearsals, and was really lost at what to do with all my free time!

I didn't have to cue entrances at all, and I don't understand how/why that would happen?  That was never even an option brought up for this production.  Can someone clue me in?  I called from the FOH booth, and I had my trusted ASM backstage running shifts/etc.  We also had the "recital hall stage manger" on com backstage.  No one bothered to tell me he existed until he showed up first dress.  Basically I used him as a go-between on com, because my ASM had so much running around to do.

The conductor and director are husband and wife.  They were an amazing team and both helped me out every step of the way, especially with the music until I was comfortable with it.  The director complemented my calling every night, exclaiming how difficult it is to call opera and how well I adapted.  Honestly, it wasn't even the hardest show I've ever called.  The only difficult part was following the dialog.  Usually I memorize the dialog in my shows, but that wasn't happening with German, for obvious reasons.  So any time I looked up from my book I'd get lost for a few seconds.

One night our supertitles went crazy and started fast forwarding through lines, thank you Powerpoint!  The audience wasn't so keen on that...but we fixed it within a few lines. 

One of the most useful things I did was highlighting character names in the score.  It was easier to follow the music if I ever got lost, especially.  As Papageno started singing, I could glance down at my book and see "Papageno" glowing back up at me in neon yellow.  Problem solved.   

Of course we had all sorts of interesting problems to deal with, as any show does, (i.e. no crew = chorus does shifts, horrendous cabling = we ran our own dmx, fog machine made SO MUCH NOISE so we switched to haze, etc etc...) 

Oh, and the director never actually handed over the show to me, up until closing things were tweaked and changed slightly...ah university theatre!

Overall, it was a good experience. 

LisaEllis

  • Guest
Re: My first opera! The Magic Flute
« Reply #9 on: Jun 05, 2007, 12:50 pm »
Well, with only 1 ASM, and if the chorus are music students, then I can understand that they were expected to learn their own cues.

Most companies you'll have 2 ASMs, 1 for each side of the stage, so expectations change.

As with anything, university theatre is different!  And yes, alot of opera is like doing musicals.

Glad it went well for you!

ljh007

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 340
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: SMA
Re: My first opera! The Magic Flute
« Reply #10 on: Jun 06, 2007, 08:54 am »
I'm so glad to hear this went well for you!
It does sound like this was run more like an opera than a musical, and that the arrangements worked really well for your show.

Just to quickly answer your question, and as Lisa mentioned, it is entirely standard for ASMs (provided you have enough) to cue entrances for artists. The fact that this is "the way it's done" is probably the primary reason this tradition still holds in opera. But in a practical way, you often have major singers who have sung four dozen "Carmen"s and would understandably get confused about exactly when and where they enter for this particular production. This coming season, I will be working with a singer who will be singing Musetta (in Boheme) in three cities simultaneously. She will fly from city to city after a curtain goes down to arrive in the next theatre just in time for the next rehearsal/performance. And so on for six weeks! This is an extreme situation, but not the first time I've worked with singers doing their current signature role in multiple houses. So having someone to give your entrances is extremely valuable just in case the artist flakes out one night. Beyond that, entrances are often to precisely timed to the music, that having an ASM to follow the music and cue the entrance on the precise downbeat is helpful.

SFBaySM

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 9
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Experience: Professional
Re: My first opera! The Magic Flute
« Reply #11 on: Jun 07, 2007, 04:24 am »
That does make much more sense, thank you.  And here I was just thinking they were too lazy to leave dressing rooms until last minute...


erm, did I mention my ASM doesn't read music?  And even though I offered to teach mulitple times, she wasn't interested at all?  Except for that fact, she was the best ASM I've had thus far.

LisaEllis

  • Guest
Re: My first opera! The Magic Flute
« Reply #12 on: Jun 07, 2007, 03:54 pm »
Uh...reading music is kind of necessary to continue in opera.

Old school used to be able to get away with it more, but these days you need to have basic music skills to get your foot in the door.

But if it's not what she wants to do...

ljh007

  • Permanent Resident
  • *****
  • Posts: 340
    • View Profile
  • Affiliations: SMA
Re: My first opera! The Magic Flute
« Reply #13 on: Jun 07, 2007, 08:43 pm »
...And here I was just thinking they were too lazy to leave dressing rooms until last minute...

Well, that's a little true too.
 ;)

SFBaySM

  • New to Town
  • **
  • Posts: 9
  • Gender: Female
    • View Profile
  • Experience: Professional
Re: My first opera! The Magic Flute
« Reply #14 on: Jun 09, 2007, 06:27 am »
But if it's not what she wants to do...

it's not  ::)

Tags:
 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
2 Replies
3247 Views
Last post Dec 03, 2005, 03:20 pm
by hbelden
36 Replies
33826 Views
Last post Feb 25, 2016, 09:18 pm
by TechBoothPhantom
3 Replies
3341 Views
Last post May 07, 2010, 12:19 pm
by JECSM