This process has been entirely different from what I'm accustomed to, and so I'm having trouble figuring out when I'm supposed to be nervous. Which is kind of.....funny!
Normal show schedule (for me thus far) is: rehearse for 3 weeks in a room, one rehearsal with orchestra (sitzprobe), and between 2-4 rehearsals onstage, (one or two with costumes and one or two with orchestra), and then opening. By the time you reach the sitzprobe you are usually at 5-7 days before the opening and you start to think to yourself, "okay self; sleep lots, take your vitamins, and FOCUS because you're coming into the home stretch."
In this process, we had a total of about 4 or 5 stage rehearsals where we were working on running the various parts of the opera with the set, and simultaneously having a total of 4 sitzprobes. Then we had a piano dress rehearsal, and then 6 rehearsals on the stage with the orchestra (which we will finish up tonight), followed by a pre-dress rehearsal with everything, and a dress rehearsal. So when am I supposed to start getting nervous? Now I suppose, although since I have already sung my entire role on the stage with the orchestra a bunch of times, I feel pretty relaxed. What a concept!
Of course, we never have schedules like this in the States for two reasons: One; the cost of having so many sessions with the orchestra becomes prohibitive when you don't have state sponsored funding. Even huge companies like the Met and Chicago don't have so many chances to work with the orchestra and on the stage. The second reason for the regional companies is that they aren't at home in the theaters in which they perform, they just rent them, so they must pay for every time they use the stage, and that also becomes impossibly expensive. The only other time I've witnessed so many stage rehearsals and orchestra rehearsals was when I was singing in Italy. I did many a production at City Opera where I had exactly ZERO stage rehearsals and ZERO orchestra rehearsals before the performance. Of course, that was also the case here at the Staatsoper when I sang Barbiere earlier this season, but that production is performed so often by the company that it was more like a train that I was just hopping on and adding my luggage to for a few stops. For me, I always prefer to have LOTS of rehearsal because then I feel like when I get to the performances I can delve deeply into the characterizations and musical choices because I'm confident with all the logistics happening around me.
And this show, by the way, is really fabulous. The singing, the staging, the orchestra, the sets, the costumes - everything is coming together for something really sparkling and moving and fascinating and funny and crazy and strong. I really wish all of you readers could see it, but the good news is that a documentary is being made about the creation of this production, and later this summer we will record a CD which will be distributed by Harmonia Mundi. So even though you may not be able to get to Berlin, I promise to share as much with you as I can. Pictures coming soon as well!! Now I'm off to my final of six stage orchestra rehearsals, and I'm not even nervous. Outstanding!