FROM (PROSE) PAGE TO (OPERA) PAGE, XI
So now it’s wait, wait, wait.... But I’m enjoying this time, all anticipation. The orchestra parts were churned out by the copyist (in Ohio) from September to early March; I met with David Gately up in Montreal where he was directing a show and in Seattle where he lives, getting to know each other better. I’ve see Darren Woods up at the Seagle, which is just an hour from my house (and the wonderful shows the young singers put on there), and also in New York City. I even got to meet the set designer, Riccardo Hernandez, who lives in New Haven CT with his family, while I was at a Yale reunion. Riccardo is Cuban too, but his family left Cuba and he grew up in Buenos Aires (his mother is Argentinian); he went to the Yale School of Drama to study set design — specifically opera design, with Ming Cho Lee! I loved hearing Riccardo’s story of his father playing records of great singers and quizzing his son on them. (And thinking: we forget there are hetero opera queens too!)
Need I tell you I can’t wait to see what the designs look like? Well, I did get to see a video of the production deisgn meeting held in D.C. last August, but horribile dictu, the sound went haywire so I couldn’t hear what they were discussing for the entire middle hour of the meeting!! I could see what the set was meant to look like from Riccardo’s mock-up, and learned there’s a little law or two of physics that will make the construction of it, shall we say, challenging. It involves a kind of curve in the backdrop. The set is quite abstract, with panels flying in for projections suggesting place.
Reminds me of the anticipation waiting to see what the poster design would look like. The poster design was one of the first things that had to be pinned down, as it would be the main promotional image for the production. I’d gotten a call from Diane, the promo person at FWO, who wanted me to take a look at some artwork — I was on a train, and I was able to sneak a look on my iPhone, which was for me at the time a revolutionary idea! — and I liked the images I saw. The artist was Jerrel Sustaita, a local artist in Fort Worth. I was asked for my ideas, and I spoke with Jerrel. Still, you never know, until you actually see something.... And finally when I did get to see the poster, I was very happy with it: the colors were just right! And then, the season brochure, unveiled at this year’s festival: there is was, big as life: Don Giovanni, L’Elisir D’Amore (The Elixir of Love), and Before Night Falls. As a friend of mine put it, I’m in pretty good company! And Don Giovanni was THE opera that got me started, making me fall in love with the artform. That is a lovely, unintended symmetry.
I’ve worked on other musical projects in the meantime; one project is a version of the score of BNF for a smaller instrumental ensemble, for smaller opera companies. This has been a fairly common practice lately. I’m reworking the score for a group of 20 players. There may be a couple of bites from opera companies, and one lives in hopes....
From the fall of 2009 on, things began to accelerate, slowly. In September FWO kicked off its new season with a Gala dinner fund raiser — the theme this year was “A Night in Havana”! That was quite a show, for which FWO flew me down. All the stops were pulled: from the music greeting you as you came in, with cigar rollers and vendors, mojitos, and the female dancer in the central platform dressed up with an enormous peacock “tail” — to the food, the floor show, and the assemblage all in their finest gowns and suits.
So this brings us more or less up to the moment: it’s about ten weeks before the premiere; in six weeks I will be going down to Fort Worth to begin rehearsals. Next installment I will write about the mini-tour I just finished with Yale musicians.