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PDX OPERAbeat | A Company Blog is the blog for all things Portland Opera, featuring a variety of guest contributors who will provide insider's tidbits on all we do to celebrate the beauty and breadth of opera.

Season Wrap Up

Saturday night, closing night of Candide, was also the final night of the 2011-2012 opera season. Sitting up in the supertext booth, listening to the show (because of the number of follow spot operators in the show, my place in the booth had a very limited view of the stage), I got laughing at myself: as much as I've been looking forward to a few months without late rehearsal nights, I suddenly felt a little melancholy. We'll all be glad to get our evenings back for awhile -- it's been about four months since any of us has gotten to routinely eat dinner at home -- and yet there's a certain bittersweet sadness, too. Now there are four months to wait before we put on another production!
 

There's always so much I want to tell you on this blog. Sometimes words just fall short. On opening night of Candide, I listened from backstage (having split the supertext duty with our other operator, principal accompanist Tom Webb). I mostly sat in the production office and worked, listening to the show as it was piped through the monitors. During the exquisite final number, though, I got up and made my way into the wings. Our temporary chorusmaster, Adam Turner, was there already. "Aren't you going to sing?" he asked, grinning, as the chorus made their entrance. So Adam and I stood next to the fly rail, watched the performers in their final number, and we sang our hearts out right along with them. Just being in the wings during a show always feels sort of thrilling and magical -- people working and talking and watching, all out of sight of the audience -- but 'participating' for a few moments from that vantage point was something else entirely. And is there a finer song to end a season with than 'Make Our Garden Grow'?
 

What a lovely and interesting season this has been, both in front of the curtain and behind it. Some highlights:
 

-- Surviving our first gala concert. What satisfaction there was in walking around the street fair in The Dress, watching the giant Marx Brothers dance and listening to the bands. I'm just beginning to gear up for next year's concert; I'm very glad to have one under my belt now. And you guys. That dress.
 

photo
 

-- Listening to Jennifer Aylmer sing Deh vieni non tardar (one of my favorite arias) during our run of Figaro. Also: standing backstage with Jennifer Hammontree, our Production Stage Manager, and singing "Marcellina, Marcellina" during this scene:
 


 

-- Related: playing the door knock noise during the Act II finale every night. The key lock noise scared the socks off of me, but I got a thrill every time I stood pressed with my back against the set, surrounded on all sides by the chorus, clutching the wooden knocker in one nervous hand.
 

the door knock
 

-- Watching the children who played Trouble in Madama Butterfly make their first entrance. So sweet, so small! Then later, watching Kelly Kaduce clutch the child to her in the final scene, just before her character's suicide.


Butterfly finale
 

-- Galileo. Blog, I have to tell you the truth. Although I wrote to you at length about how to like music you might otherwise dismiss, I did not believe I was going to like Galileo. I wasn't convinced the piece was very strong, not until I began watching rehearsals. Then, I think I became the production's loudest and most fervent advocate. I was completely vindicated when I sent a friend to the dress rehearsal with my comp tickets and, when approached afterwards by our marketing staff to give her take on it, she burst into spontaneous tears. I said what I needed to say on opening night, but just to reiterate: Galileo was without question the most satisfying experience of my career so far.
 

-- Listening through headphones every night to Robert Orth as Cacambo (one of his various Candide roles), in that scene with the sheep. I could have listened to him say, "One by one, all of the sheeps was lost. Some into precipes -- OOHHHHH NOOOOOOOOO *crash*" every day and still crack up every single time. And I couldn't even see him.
 

What a great season. Although by this point in the season I am always exhausted and frazzled and ready for a break, I never take this work for granted. At the end of this, my seventh season, it is still just as magical and exciting to be in the theater as it was for my very first show. We are lucky to do what we do, surrounded as we are by wonderful artists: singers, instrumentalists, designers, craftsmen, stagehands. I never forget how lucky I am. Thanks so much to all of you for being here with us, for reading and watching and taking part in our opera community. We couldn't do it without you -- seriously.