So last night, at our opening of The Golden Ticket, something wonderful happened. Yes, there was a world premiere of a new opera. Yes, the audience loved it and gave it a standing ovation. Yes, everything finally came together to provide the audience with a very special world of imagination. Blah blah blah.
The real news story from last night is that I, as the evil Veruca Salt, actually got BOOED at my bow!!!! And it wasn't like La Scala booing because I was singing Radames really poorly or something - it was like Cruella deVille, you are the Villianess of this opera, and we must boo your evil ways. It was actually kind of shocking at first because I've never been booed before, but I got into it and gave the audience a dirty look and crossed my arms Veruca style before I stomped back to my place.
No no, the real story is the World Premiere, and that it was a success. You never know with a new opera, how the audience will like it, whether they will experience it as viscerally as you have begun to after weeks of living with the piece. But in this case, I can say that it felt from stage as if the audience was with us every step of the way. They laughed in all the right moments, and even in some new moments where we hadn't necessarily anticipated the laughs. It was a triumph for the composer and the librettist, who have had this piece in the works for 10 years, and it was also a great pleasure to get to meet Felicity Dahl, Roald Dahl's widow (Dahl is the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - in case you were living under a rock, or are one my readers who is a non-native english speaker).
In regard to my own performance last night, I found it interesting to be singing a role like this one, that felt like more of an acting role than a singing one. Yes, I certainly sang a great deal, but it wasn't the kind of singing I've been doing lately - bel canto, or Mozart, or baroque - all of which requires a certain type of vocal precision and flexibility which is very different from the requirements of a modern piece in your native language. Plus, from a totally psychological standpoint, the fact that I don't have a set ARIA, means that I don't have a set place to get NERVOUS, and so I just didn't have those "Una voce poco fa" panic nerves. I was backstage emailing people pictures of me in my costume and hanging out in the green room eating cookies until just before we went onstage. Not my normal pre-show ritual, for sure.
I know I haven't written as many blog entries during this time in St Louis, but I've actually been excessively busy. Between having a great number of rehearsals (Veruca is the last bad child to get disposed of, so I was onstage pretty much the whole time), and having a lot of socializing to do (Opera Theatre of Saint Louis knows how to par-TAY!), and trying to learn my next project (which has enough baroque italian recit to make me want to break down into tears), I've been pretty overwhelmed. But I'm certainly not complaining - busy is definitely best for me. And playing evil apparently comes extremely naturally to me. But it's not because I was a bad kid myself - it's because I was bullied a lot as a pre-teen, and I remember how mean and awful those people were, so it's easy to re-create them. And even I'm satisfied when I get shoved down the garbage shoot - I mean how satisfying would it have been to see some of those awful mean girls from junior high, who used to pull my hair and even spit on me, getting attacked by giant squirrels and thrown in the trash!!???!!
So very satisfying.