pallas_athena: (Default)
Figaro went well! Kudos to my colleagues, and many thanks to all who came.

In every piece of music you rehearse, there comes a time by which the music is going round and round in your head nonstop: on the bus, down the aisles of the supermarket, and especially when you're trying to get to sleep.

But this time it was Figaro, and Figaro turns that phenomenon up to 11. Suddenly the earworm in your head has the volume and clarity of a million-dollar sound system that you can't turn off. There isn't a hope of getting rid of it, so you just live with a skull full of blasting Mozart.

There are two good points to this situation: one is that you get to know the opera really well, whether you want to or not. The other is subtler: this is the closest we'll ever get to knowing what it felt like to be Mozart. If his music occupies our every waking moment and won't leave us alone, how must he have felt? Did the music resound in his head with the same painful clarity, the same insistence, never letting him rest till he wrote it down? If so, he must never have needed to cast about for ideas; they'd have come thronging, clamouring to be let out.

If Mozart had lived a normal lifespan for his time and social class, most of what we have of his today would be known as "early Mozart".

My teacher once said that when you memorise music, you're actually composing it again in your head. I think he was right about this.

There's a bit in the Act II Finale (about 1.40 to 2.20 here) that made our Cherubino (offstage at the time) grin madly and wave her legs in the air. I think she was right about this too.
pallas_athena: (Default)
Figaro went well! Kudos to my colleagues, and many thanks to all who came.

In every piece of music you rehearse, there comes a time by which the music is going round and round in your head nonstop: on the bus, down the aisles of the supermarket, and especially when you're trying to get to sleep.

But this time it was Figaro, and Figaro turns that phenomenon up to 11. Suddenly the earworm in your head has the volume and clarity of a million-dollar sound system that you can't turn off. There isn't a hope of getting rid of it, so you just live with a skull full of blasting Mozart.

There are two good points to this situation: one is that you get to know the opera really well, whether you want to or not. The other is subtler: this is the closest we'll ever get to knowing what it felt like to be Mozart. If his music occupies our every waking moment and won't leave us alone, how must he have felt? Did the music resound in his head with the same painful clarity, the same insistence, never letting him rest till he wrote it down? If so, he must never have needed to cast about for ideas; they'd have come thronging, clamouring to be let out.

If Mozart had lived a normal lifespan for his time and social class, most of what we have of his today would be known as "early Mozart".

My teacher once said that when you memorise music, you're actually composing it again in your head. I think he was right about this.

There's a bit in the Act II Finale (about 1.40 to 2.20 here) that made our Cherubino (offstage at the time) grin madly and wave her legs in the air. I think she was right about this too.
pallas_athena: (Default)
At the end of Figaro, after all the traps are sprung, misunderstandings cleared up, and jealous spouses disciplined, there is a very brief, almost frantically festive final chorus.

Questo giorno di tormenti,
Di capricci e di follia,
In contenti ed allegria,
Solo amor puo terminar.

Sposi! Amici! Al ballo! Al gioco!
Alle mine date fuoco!
Corriam tutti a festeggiar!


The next-to-last line means "Light the fireworks!" or, literally, "To the mines give fire!" This used to be an English phrase too:

In giving fire to any great peece of Ordnance, such as Cannon, Culverin, or such like, it is requisite that ye Gonner thereto appointed first see that ye peece be well primed, laying a little powdre about ye touch-hole as a traine, and then to be nimble in giving fire, which as soon as he espieth to flame, he ought with quicknesse to retire back three or four yardes out of danger of the reverse of ye wheels and carriage of ye peece; for oftentimes it happeneth that the wheels or axle-tree doth break and spoile ye Gonner that giveth fire, not having ability to move himself from the danger of ye same; yea, I did see a Gonner slaine with the reverse of the wheele of a culverin, which crushed his legge and thigh in peeces, who, if he had had a care, and nimbleness withal, might have escaped ye misfortune.


So "give fire" basically just meant "light something that explodes." The Italian word mina, "mine", similarly, just meant "thing that explodes." Italian fireworks were known as the loveliest in Europe, and much sought after; the Royal Fireworks of 1749, for which Handel composed the music, were made and given fire by Italians. (The concert pavilion burned down, but so it goes.)
Click for Enlightenment )
pallas_athena: (Default)
Should really be in bed now, but:
Tonight we rehearsed the Figaro courtroom scene: the scene where my character, Marcellina, discovers that Figaro is her long-lost son. I like rehearsing this scene, because basically it's one long hug, and getting hugs from likeable, trustworthy people is a Good Thing, onstage or off.

When the discovery is made, I have Marcellina break down in tears. Up till then she's been a very confident, poised character, and I like having her lose control there. From an acting point of view, though, it's a challenge for a childless woman to play someone who has spent the last twenty-some years wondering where her lost baby is, and finds him at last.

So how I got there is: I'm doing this for the children I'll never have.

I've never been maternally inclined, or very fond of children as such. Even if I were in a relationship, I would most probably choose not to have any. But it's one thing to make that choice, and quite another to have it made for you. I am thirty-six, almost thirty-seven, and unpartnered. I will not be having kids.

In an unforeseen way, this opera is providing me with a space in which I can accept the status quo, and grieve as much as I need to for all the might-have-beens.

Children are life roulette. It's impossible to know who they'll be till you've got them. So I literally can't imagine what it would have been like to have them and live with them: their personalities are beyond my ken.

Marcellina, at least, gets a happy ending of sorts.
pallas_athena: (Default)
The good news:
A couple of weeks ago I was offered Marcellina in a Figaro in Oxford on 10th and 11th November. It's in the very beautiful Wren-designed Sheldonian Theatre, in 18th century costume (full-throated huzzahs)! Rehearsals have been going well.

The not-so-good news:
Sadly, this means no Whitby. And the dress rehearsal is, cruelly, on Bonfire Night. I suppose this means I will have to set the rehearsal venue on fire. Sigh.

Thoughts )
pallas_athena: (Default)
The good news:
A couple of weeks ago I was offered Marcellina in a Figaro in Oxford on 10th and 11th November. It's in the very beautiful Wren-designed Sheldonian Theatre, in 18th century costume (full-throated huzzahs)! Rehearsals have been going well.

The not-so-good news:
Sadly, this means no Whitby. And the dress rehearsal is, cruelly, on Bonfire Night. I suppose this means I will have to set the rehearsal venue on fire. Sigh.

Thoughts )

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