My favorite sound in the world is the sound of an orchestra tuning. I love those few moments of seeming disorder as we all prepare for the performance. It’s also a universal sign for “we’re about to begin.” No matter what city, state, or country you are in everyone becomes quiet when the tuning begins. When I am not working on In the Water projects I am traveling around the country working on operas, although I am often doing both.
During a performance (which can run up to four hours long) you will find me backstage with a full score cradled in my left arm, a book light attached so I can read the music and my many colorful notes. As an assistant stage manager, during the performance, I cue the principal singers to enter for their scenes and arias on precise moments in the music. I also herd large groups of chorus members and sometimes supers (short for supernumerary, or someone who is onstage but not singing). I check to make sure that they get the correct prop from the props crew and I wait near the door to their dressing room to make sure they make their quick change in the two minutes and twenty seconds they have until their next entrance. Once I hear the orchestra tune I know the ball is rolling down the hill and it won’t stop until intermission or bows and it’s thrilling.
Some of my friends are surprised at my career path and my genuine love for the art form. Opera gets a bad reputation for being old fashioned, super long and generally unapproachable. I am lucky to have been introduced to opera when I was sixteen by mother. We saw La Boheme at the Met and I knew I wanted to be a part of that grand traditional art form from the first note. Just like in theatre, there are companies that are very traditional and produce classic operas in a classic way. What is less well known is that there are also companies that produce operas in radical new ways and companies that produce operas in every way in between. If you think that opera is only for old ladies then I would check out this article that came out in the New Yorker this April about smaller companies in New York that have started to make a name for themselves.
Sometimes the giant opera productions seem to land on the complete opposite end of the spectrum than what we do at In the Water. We don’t have an ensemble of sixty, or richly colored period costumes, or a multitude of towering sets. There is however more in common that first meets the eye. We have highly talented ensemble members and a drive to bring beautiful and challenging pieces of art to our community while striving to bring a new community to share in what we’ve created.
Check in weekly to find out Where in the World is In the Water Theatre Company. We might not be in the most exotic places like Matt Lauer but some of the places might surprise you!
Rachel C. Lucas