The last two months or so have been a wild ride. First, an adventure in Boston with the Boston Early Music Festival, performing Le Carnaval de Venise by André Campra. That was a dream for me, getting to learn from such a remarkably talented (and I must say exceptionally friendly and self-effacing) cast. I had a relatively small part in the production, at least on paper, singing in the chorus and portraying an over-eager henchman to the emotionally distraught villain (performed by my friend and fellow Berliner Douglas Williams).
I had fun learning more about the tradition of commedia dell'arte, which is an old Italian tradition of theater based on stock characters representing particular characters in society. Being in Boston and not having too much to sing in this production gave me a perfect opportunity to work on character movement, acting, and comic timing. This experience certainly reaffirmed a phrase I had heard before, but heard time and time again by fellow singer-actors in Boston: comedy is more difficult than tragedy.
It's such a difficult thing to do. The goal, of course, is to make people laugh, but if you simply go into a performance with only that in mind, it's likely to flop. It has to be natural, coming from a real place inside you, and yet it also has to be rehearsed to the finest details of movement and timing. Sometimes a specific gesture or body movement just doesn't seem funny if it comes a split-second too soon or too late. It's an amazing art form, when you think about it. It's just like music: ephemeral, entirely based on the passing of time, and yet it must be practiced over and over to reach a level of competency to be able to have fluency in the moment.
One idea that resonated continuously in my head throughout our rehearsals in Boston was that live theater is based on trust. It's a trust in yourself, a kind of self-confidence, but it's also ultimately trust in your colleagues on stage. You never actually know what someone else will do on stage. It's a fine line to walk--you don't want it to feel so scripted and so prepared that it loses its feeling of being real. But you still want to be able to trust that your colleagues won't do something so totally unexpected on stage that it throws you off and takes you out of the moment. This also shows the importance of building relationships with your colleagues off the stage. We have to know each other, at least a little bit, for that trust to manifest into confidence on stage.
So that was a bit of a diversion, but important life lessons, nonetheless.
I jumped on a plane the evening after our last performance in Boston with some persistent stage makeup still left on my face, and immediately started rehearsals for my first production with Landestheater Niederbayern in Passau, a small, charming city in Bavaria. Of course I was nervous to start in my new theater, but I couldn't have asked for a better reception here. Our cast of Die Welt auf dem Monde (Haydn) already has so much fun together. Most of our rehearsals derail at some point into fits of laughter and absurdity. Truly the best kind of rehearsals.
There's surely more to come on this production (and life in Passau--I'll be living here for the next year!).
A few random shots from the last couple months, for your enjoyment.
Bonus video: HARDCORE PARKOUR over my friend Alexis in the Massachusetts wilderness. Video by Olivier Laquerre.