Working hard or hardly working?

I think that's a question a lot of you might be asking me based on watching my last few videos. After I posted the video of our 10 second Barber summary on facebook, I got a comment from the wife of my Figaro, Danny (who herself is a director) that said "I think you guys need to rehearse more." and another comment from a fellow singer friend that said, "That was the worst Barber synopsis ever. You should have titled it "Hanging out in Portland and Drinking Beer." Even though they were both totally kidding around with me, they were of course, both somewhat right.

But in spite of what you might be lead to believe based on my new obsession with making videos, we have been rehearsing here in Portland as well. And after watching a work-through of part of the first act yesterday, I was struck by the realization that I don't think I will ever tire of doing this opera, because the possibilities for finding new elements are endless. I worked with Chris Mattaliano, the director, during my days at Juilliard as an acting coach, but I've never really been in a show he directed, except in the chorus when I was like 2 years old at Music Academy (and too young to appreciate it). As I was watching what everybody was doing yesterday, I was amazed at the fact that while he has been encouraging this very experienced cast to focus more on the text and the relationships between the characters rather than the traditional schticky jokes we've all become accustomed to, there is still so much humor to be found in this piece. But the humor is found in different pockets of the text that I haven't seen used before in quite that way. I have never before seen Basilio's "La Calunnia" performed while he and Bartolo are sitting down to a very polite tea service, but it's totally hilarious. I'm used to seeing Basilio careening around the stage with an umbrella or something, but watching him just sit there and deliver the text of the aria while politely stirring his tea cup was making me giggle uncontrollably. And the same is true for my aria "Una voce poco fa" - I have always written the letter during the musical interlude at the end of the first section, but in this version, Chris suggested a new and unique way for me to compose the letter that incorporates all my fioratura and ornaments into its creation. It's like a whole new aria for me - no small feat for an aria I've sung literally hundreds of times.

So yes, we are certainly enjoying all Portland has to offer, and I am really thrilled that I have some partners in crime to goof off and drink beer with, but it's not like we haven't done anything productive. Although the Figaro, who happens to have the day off today, called me in the morning to sarcastically wish me "a pleasant day of rehearsals" while he has a lovely time driving himself to the waterfalls. I replied "F$#@ you, and may you have a pleasant day yourself" and hung up on him. But it's okay, I can always take revenge on him by choosing an exorbitantly fast tempo for our duet since I'm the first one to sing. Watch yourself Figs. That's all I'm saying.