Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Tonight sees the second performance of the Smetana. Saturday's première went very well, although it must be admitted that the audience was pretty much divided into those who loved the production and those who hated it, and there was a little bit of booing, which is always slightly disconcerting (although surely better than a lukewarm, uninterested reception). Personally, however, I enjoyed myself, and am looking forward to singing the role again tonight without all the rigmarole that surrounds a première.

It's got me thinking, though, about how exhausting it can be to sing the smaller roles. With a big meaty role, firstly you get the chance to make up for any slight snarl-ups (I've seen a tenor do this spectacularly; having stumbled dizzily through most of his part, he took a deep breath before the final high note, held it forever, and brought the house down); and secondly, you get to use up the adrenaline that your body produces, and in a healthy manner. It is my experience that the body gears up for any performance with the same amount of adrenaline. With small roles, you simply don't use it all up, and if left to its own devices, it can turn quite sour (for me this means I end up inexplicably tearful). For this reason, it is often useful to go out dancing after singing a smallish role (or at least, it's a good excuse!). Doesn't mean you don't get tired, of course. This particular role calls for singing only in the third act, however by that time I have already had three non-singing entrances in this production; meaning that I have to actually concentrate on what's going on at all times, instead of lounging around in my dressing room with my feet up... Hard work!

Worth it, though, to feel that whatever the length or difficulty of the part, one has maintained concentration throughout and kept enough energy going to sustain the production. I was (I think!) complimented on this at a colleague's party the day after the première (at which, I am proud to say, I spoke German throughout without too much bumbling). Someone who'd been in the audience beamed and said, oh despite it being a small part, "du warst immer pregnant"... I sucked my stomach in sharply and tried to sort out what they meant. To the best of my understanding, they were admiring my constant theatrical "presence" or "switched-on-ness". If anyone reading this is falling about with laughter and they really did mean that my costume was unflattering around the middle, please don't ever tell me!!

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