The School of Correction to which we sent the conveyor belt has really done an excellent job, and I would recommend it for any other wayward children – it still offers surprises, but during our final rehearsals on stage, it conquered its former excesses of speed and furniture, and our General Rehearsal on Saturday night went without a hitch. Conveyor belts tend to come good in the end – I sang Ko-Ko in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado for the Reisopera six years ago – and they had TWO belts – working in contrary motion as it were and meeting in the middle – this had the wonderful side effect of preventing the tenor from finding centre stage and delivering everything from there – you can imagine the consequences…and the temptations for the operators…I once saw a fine tenor negotiating a small revolve in an opera-house in Germany – at the beginning of his aria, and in order to try and give the effect of making a journey, it began to move and he was to start walking, thereby remaining in the same position on stage…except sometimes he forgot to keep moving (a high note?) with the effect that he sang most of his aria to the wings…it was always touching to behold the brain beginning to work again…which reminds me, there are no tenors in this show! Must ask Michel about this…
Our indefatigable conductor Otto asked me, when the posters for the show first went up around Amsterdam, whether I was recognised in the street a lot – and the answer is no, because poor Mr Suart is heavily made up, although not so heavily as three years ago! Age is important here – Mr Walter is 71 years old – and indeed he was 3 years ago, when the libretto mentioned that he had been born on April 3rd, 1935; if we had kept his birthdate the same, Mr Walter would now be 74, and if we get further revivals, he’ll be well into his eighties…so like all good mezzo sopranos do, I have changed the year of my birth to 1938, keeping me at 71, and giving the chaps who do the Dutch surtitles a big headache!
Today we open – the work of a concentrated rehearsal period of 5 weeks is to be offered; for a performer it is an enormous privilege to be able to take part in this challenge – it is truly an extraordinary piece for the stage from a composer who has a wonderful imagination and a desire to break new ground. I hope you will share this spirit of adventure with us.
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