It became evident early on yesterday during our first day of school here at Portland Opera that all of my cast mates have sung The Barber of Seville numerous times and are all pretty much veterans at their roles. Listening to everyone's mastery of their arias and incredibly clear initial ideas about recitatives and ensembles, I felt a little awestruck and impressed at everyone's facility. As we neared the finale of the opera, and I wondered why it felt so unfamiliar to me, I was reminded suddenly of the fact that at my last performance of this piece (back at Wolf Trap in 2003), the power went out, and we were forced to stop the performance after the trio in Act II, making the grand total of performances that I have done of this piece a whopping 1 ⅞.
Needless to say, I felt hyper-conscious of my inexperience, particularly because this is an opera with a lot of performance traditions, many of which I can't say that I understand. But rather give into my insecurities, which contributed to my first-day jitters that I always feel at an initial music rehearsal, it occurred to me what a gift this is to be surrounded by so many experts. While my slate is fairly clean in terms of expectations, I will be experiencing this for the second time with colleagues who have incredibly rich and layered concepts of the story, their characters, and their relationships. By the end of the day, my apprehension had given way to excitement about the adventure that is to come these next five weeks here in beautiful Oregon.