I went to Spain to sing in an opera (Cavalli’s rarely performed Gli amori d’Apollo e di Dafne) . We had four days to rehearse. What were we thinking!? I have no clue. But there was an opera just the same! While I wasn’t entirely pleased with my performance, I had a fabulous time meeting lots of other singers (of all ages and career stages), learning how to be more Baroque (it’s all about the elegantly asymmetrical gestures), and refreshing my Spanish (many cast members didn’t speak much English). It was also very special to sing in the beautiful Teatro Principal in Burgos.
The opera’s plot is complicated, with two frame stories. In one, the god of sleep sends his minions to create dreams, and a homeless woman dreams of a nymph being turned into a tree. She asks her wise friend to help her understand her dream. The other frame story sets the main plot up as Venus’s revenge for a slight offered her by Apollo (he revealed her to her husband while she and Mars were practicing “military exercises” naked, and she is angry). She complains to her father Zeus, and he suggests she send her son Cupid to get revenge. Cupid wounds Apollo while the nymph Dafne is passing by. Dafne is sworn to Diana (and therefore chastity) and refuses Apollo’s advances. When he pursues her in spite of her refusal, she asks her father to turn her into a tree. Apollo bitterly repents the transformation he has caused, but it is too late.
In an unconnected but interwoven (and very important, in my completely unbiased opinion!) plot, Cefalo has abandoned his nymph Procri because he has fallen in love with the goddess Aurora. Aurora is married to Titone, who was formerly young and handsome. She managed to get him eternal life, but she forgot to ask for eternal youth. So he is now old and decrepit, which is why she’s running off to earth to fool around with Cefalo. Continue reading Being Baroque in Burgos→
Between my travel and reviewing schedules, I decided not to be involved in the Ludwig Maximilian University English Drama Group’s fall or spring productions. But when fellow American expat (and excellent actress) Jessica (who was in a 24-hour play with me earlier this year) planned an informal collection of scenes, I knew I had to participate. I’ve been missing the stage! Rouven, another member of the group, posted an open invitation to do something from The Revenger’s Tragedy, and of course I jumped at the chance. (I performed a scene from this absurd Jacobean revenge tragedy in my Advanced Scene Study class in undergrad, and the play is so much fun.) We picked a scene between the Duchess and Spurio. The Duchess, angry at the Duke for failing to interfere and save her son (who is on trial and facing capital punishment for rape), plots revenge. Spurio is also bitter towards the Duke for making him a bastard—if he had been “cut a right diamond,” he would be next in line for the dukedom. The Duchess happens to be in love with her stepson Spurio, so she decides to seduce him (and thereby cuckold her husband) to both satisfy her lust and get her revenge.
In costume and ready
The Duchess looks on in amusement as Spurio makes bitter, bawdy jokes about how big his dick is and how much stamina he has
Spurio finally consents to the Duchess’s desires
We performed the showcase on April 18, and I think our scene went pretty well. The showcase itself was quite varied. Some scenes were carefully rehearsed and directed; others were more thrown together. Azey directed a fabulously modern and physical Petruchio-Kate scene from Taming of the Shrew. Other pieces came from Midsummer, Richard III, Cyrano, Alice in Wonderland, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. We also got a musically questionable but undoubtedly enthusiastic rendition of ‘Agony’ from Into the Woods. It was all good fun!
As soon as I decided to accept my Fulbright in Munich this year, I researched two things: theater and opera. I knew there was a lot of art to see (after all, that’s why I chose Munich), but I also wanted opportunities to get involved. The amateur opera scene turned out to be non-existent, but the amateur theater scene here is pretty vibrant. There is even an English-language company, Entity Theatre! (I don’t think my German is good enough to get me cast in German-language shows.)
Entity won’t be casting a new play until winter, but last weekend they had a fun event: a 24-hour theater festival. Basically, you give some groups of actors guidelines and tell them to return in 24 hours ready to perform a short play. In that time, they have to write it, direct it, learn their lines, make acting choices, collect costumes and props, plan a simple set, do a quick tech run, and maybe even catch a little sleep. I’ve done it before, but we had a dedicated writer/director that time, so there was a bit less pressure on the actors. Not so in this case!