Music affects each person in a different way. It has the ability to comfort, to enliven, to console, and to energize. There is new music being created every day, and we are constantly given the opportunity to hear another piece of music that affects us in a new way and that can change our perspective about something.
As a new member of the Portland Opera To Go (POGO) program, I can safely say that my perspective has been changed. It’s been an exciting first week of rehearsals as our new cast gathers and begins the process of creating opera for children.
Our mission for this month with Opera Improv is to create a completely improvised opera that allows the children to choose what they see onstage. This is a totally new experience for me. Normally in opera, the music, dialogue, and staging is fairly concrete. As a performer, my job is to re-create a masterwork, perhaps with a bit of my own personal spin on things. So you might wonder: how do you rehearse something that you make up? What do you rehearse if the performance is going to be different every time?
Well, the performance we do for children is created and improvised on the spot…sort of. There are many things the children get to choose for the opera they see, but there are also many factors that we plan in advance. These factors are what we have been rehearsing this week. Some of these factors include the general story that we are trying to tell, and a couple primary pieces of music that provide direction for the story. Other than these things, everything else is a variable.