After 1, Jochanaan’s a head

OK, it’s a bad joke. But he’ll be a head after performances 2 and 3 also.

We did our first of three performances of Salome last night. It took a little while to get organized; to spare the singers, the opera company generally schedules the dress rehearsal on Wednesday and the opening on Friday. So we hadn’t seen the piece (or each other) for a couple of days. With a warhorse, that wouldn’t be a problem. With something as unfamiliar and difficult as Salome, it can be. But things seemed to right themselves pretty quickly. Our local critic was very enamoured of the soprano, but thought we "played with a glorious combination of precision and excitement" too. It sure didn’t feel precise, but Strauss is oddly forgiving of imprecision.

We had a little excitement in the viola "A" section (there are two viola parts, A and B, each one divided in multiple ways), as my standpartner came down with what sounds like flu. Jamie Hofman, who’s playing the outside part on 2nd desk, took over the uncovered inside first desk lines when possible, and Sara Harmelink, who’s playing inside 2nd desk, played the uncovered notes in the many chords that have solo notes in them. I counted very carefully, not having Erin to tell me when to come in, and we all survived. Her absence did give us a little more room (and allowed me to get out of the principal flute’s line of sight to the conductor, for which she was grateful), and it was easier to see the part, not having to share it. Hardly adequate compensation for her absence, though. Most times it’s not a big deal when someone in the section is absent (including the principal, by the way). Strauss provides many of the exceptions to that rule.

The local critic loved the dance as well. I think we’re going to have to get video monitors in the pit  into our next contract. Isn’t there a musical case to be made for seeing what’s happening on stage? We could all accompany the dance much better if we could see what’s going on. No, of course we wouldn’t be distracted. We’re professionals.

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