Thursday, January 30, 2014

Carmen disruption by Carmen disruption

  • Some more details on what I am doing now (because it is unusual).
    Back story:

     A few years back I performed in an interesting production of Carmen, in Stuttgart. It was a "regietheater" production, and it was clear that the director who created it, was coming from a different medium (namely- theater), and that he was a very creative person.  I only did the repeating shows and not the premiere, so I did not actually work with him personally ,but mainly rehearsed with his assistant, until a much later date into rehearsals, when he arrived to supervise and watch a show. His name was Sebastian Nübling, and all I could think of, was that I probably could be really good friends with him.(You know that feeling? You meet someone and they're your kind of people?). After the show we talked for a while and when he'd realized that his production was for me, one of so many Carmen productions I have already done, Sebastian was curious to hear more about my bizarre experience of  traveling the world playing the same character , under so many different directions, so many different concepts… but being "her", again, and again, and again.  From this conversation, our current play derived. One of  (or maybe the) largest German theaters- The Deutsches Schauspielhaus Hamburg,  found the idea interesting,  and to our hear's content agreed to produce it. An amazingly gifted playwrite from London named Simon Stephens, (my "kind of people" too!) has jumped on our wagon and after 6 intensive days of interviews with me  plus a year or so, he has given birth to a play! Not in any way autobiographical, but inspired by my life as Carmen, my life as an opera singer who sings Carmen, my life, our lives,  as  nomads, with not such  a clear identity anymore, as we step away (sometimes very far away) from religious, linguistic and geographical, and so many more other borders, in this age of the  Internet and flights.
    So, I have decided to put some operatic opportunities aside for a short time (of the duration of the play), and dive head first into the very exciting, if deep waters of theater work. 
    If you've ever read interviews with me, you'd remember that acting was always something  I wanted to do. As a child and as a teenager, I always took after school classes and summer camps for acting. Even during my operatic studies I always enjoyed the acting classes and improv exercises, and the freedom it allowed me. But after having chosen the parallel , if slightly different road of  professional operatic singing, I never returned to do a play play. Until now.
    In this piece, named "Carmen disruption" we will, of course, utilize my singing capabilities, and I will get, together with 4 other amazingly talented actors from the theater, to also speak the wonderful words that Simon has so carefully , lovingly , skillfully put together in this gem of a  play.
    The work thus far, has been nothing but facsinating. Unlike the operatic preparation, I was asked *not* to memorize my lines prior to arriving here (which in fact, freaked me out!). We all (4 actors, my self, director, playwrite, costume designer, set designer,music director, and a dramaturge) have started from scratch.  Lines have been changed as we read  along. Music is being decided upon, as is movement and costumes, and the way we 'act', just based on what we, the actors, can bring to the rehearsal stage. We mainly improvise, being as creative and as imaginative as we possibly can, and what it is that comes out of us, can be then kept or not, depending whether it 'works'. Sebastian is gathering ideas, basing his direction , on our ability and skill, and expression. I must say, that it has been literally years, since I was allowed to be so creative. Normally in an opera (which usually, I would allow myself to say: mostly,   has not been written for *you*), the margin for that (being individually creative) is quite narrow , as we have to firstly fit into the very defined technique and style of the piece we are singing, before we have to more or less come to an agreement with  the director, conductor, and costume designer's concept. Our own creativity within that, is sometimes kept to a nuance (which is also something  I admire,   because at the end, you still, I am not quite sure how, but you still  get a unique performance from us opera singers!) . It is truly fascinating to me, to approach a piece of art from such a different angel than what I am used to. So far I am having a fantastic time with this play and with  the entire process. I will write more as we advance . RS


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