Ben: Wed 17 Feb

Rehearsals are going really well since my last blog entry, and I feel that the show has moved up a level.  Keith is raising the bar in terms of standard, and the company is being encouraged to maintain the level of concentration, and improve the standard of the production in several different ways, to ensure that no detail is lost when we move into the theatre next week, which will itself bring new challenges as we deal with the technical side of the opera.

The schedule this week has been quite demanding – as there are no lectures, we are making full use of the freedom of no academic timetable.  Monday and Tuesday were both three session days – a total of 9 hours rehearsing per day.  Whilst proving tiring, the results of the hard work put in by the company are becoming evident, as we are going to run the whole show tomorrow evening.

It was lovely to read David’s blog on here earlier this week, so I thought I’d write about my experiences of working with him on this project.

For me, the opportunity to work with a composer is a great pleasure, and is something that I’ve only experienced a couple of times in my career so far, and on those occasions, the amount of time with the composer was not comparable to that of this project.

Having David in the rehearsals is a great benefit to us all.  He has said himself how he derives great pleasure from seeing us all perform his music, but for me (and I’m sure, many others in the company), it is a great feeling to re-pay our thanks and appreciation for his creative work by performing the work to him in the rehearsal room.

In terms of the finer musical details of the piece, he has been able to explain to Lionel and myself exactly what he had in mind for various sections of the piece, which is an invaluable resource for us. 

No matter how good or detailed a written out musical score can be, nothing can replace the original thoughts and opinions of the composer.

As a result of this, we have made slight changes to the interpretations of some sections – making some of the more popular, cabaret sections more stylistically free, and on some occasions, we have made some alterations to the tempo – to bring the performance as close as possible to what David had in mind.  I’ve been keeping a close eye on the metronome in some sections, to make sure that we are staying true to David’s intentions.

One of my favourite parts of this opera has to be Tartine’s song, which is in the cabaret style, and is accompanied by piano only.  I really enjoy this number, and it was a particular highlight of the rehearsal process so far when David spent a few minutes with me, playing the piano part according to how he had imagined the piece when he was composing it.  Naturally, there were small differences with phrasing, and direction of the music, but it was wonderful to be able to absorb his musicianship, and incorporate his ideas into our performance.

Secondly, I’d like to mention my rehearsal this evening with our ‘cover’ Jedermann’s – Hedd Owen-Griffiths and Shira Lang.  Both students have spent a considerable number of hours learning the parts and sitting in on rehearsals, so should the need arise, they are really well prepared to step into the roles.  It is always a strange situation to be in, when rehearsing cover singers – one can’t help but admire the amount of study and preparation that they have done, but at the same time, we would not wish for any misfortune to happen to Matt and Lucie, who are also investing many hours of good work in their preparations.

Finally, we now have Louise Matthews, our Company Stage Manager, with us in rehearsals, who is doing a great job in keeping track of rehearsal schedules, and is gradually working her way through a big list of props and other technical requirements which are vital for a smooth running show.

I’m really looking forward to not only our first run through tomorrow evening, but also to our move into the Crescent Theatre.

Continued congratulations to all involved.

Ben Kennedy