Opening night is upon us. The general rehearsal today, for a small and lovely audience. It was great to be able to have an audience in to see the work and the feedback was tremendous. And now waiting for the show. Get your tickets at the City Recital Hall Angel Place- you're not going to want to miss this one. Here's a great pic of the amazing Hadleigh Adams as Bajazet, taken by the wonderful Keith Saunders. See you at the show!
and today was the stage orchestrals. These are the calls with cast and full orchestra in the theatre, and are generally to do with music. Tricky corners in the score are rehearsed as well as running the piece in sections. And this is exactly what we did today. A long day but a very good day, and we're in excellent shape. We were visited in the second call by some of our Heroes - we could not do what we do without them, and we're very glad they were able to come and visit today. We were also visited by various small family members, and that was lots of fun. Keith Saunders, our show photographer, came to look at the rehearsal so that he knows what is going on for tomorrow's shoot at the general. He took some pics, and very fine they are. Here's a teaser one for you - hopefully doesn't give too much away! We're excited!
and the first day that the performers were in the theatre. A very exciting time. Today is what are called the piano stages, but in our case we call them the continuo stages. These are the technical rehearsals of getting everything onto the set, using lighting and costumes as well. It's a day for putting everything onto the stage, but also sorting out the technical issues of which there weren't that many. We call them the continuo stages because we are very fortunate to have our continuo team of two theories, 2 harpsichords (including Erin playing one) and cello and gamba come in and play. We also have the principal string players for each section as well - so in total 11 players of 23! Almost half. I don't want to give too much away about the stage, so I'm grabbing the opportunity to talk about the two harpsichords that we are using - very kindly loaned and hired by Carey Beebe, harpsichord supplier, technician and tuner extraordinaire. We are using a pair of harpsichords modelled on an Italian design by a Sicilian builder named Carlo Grimaldi who was building in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. These are beautiful instruments and function really well as a pair. They are single manuals (only one keyboard each) and have a bright, articulated sound that is perfect for Italian opera of this period. You can see more info on these, and many other harpsichords, at Carey's website - www.hpschd.nu. Here's a pic of the two instruments (in mood theatre lighting) and their two players - Erin Helyard and Anthony Abouhamad. With them is Colin van der Lecq who is maintaining and tuning these throughout our run.
A great day today. We had the third orchestral call (with horns - hooray!) and the sitzprobe, which is sing and play through the entire opera without staging - a chance for the singers and players just to concentrate on music. And it went wonderfully! Sounds incredible. We'll post a clip tomorrow (it's been a long day!) of a very gentle and beautiful aria that contrasts with the orchestral excerpt we posted today. Meantime here's a pic of our two wonderful lute players - James Holland and Josep Martì Duran and the four instruments that they are playing between the two of them, ranging from very large (the theorbo), to very small (the piccolo mandolin), and archlute (the larger of the two middle sized ones), and baroque guitar (the other one!). Two of these instruments - the mandolin and guitar have been lent to us By Tommie Andersson and Andrew White and we're very grateful. And note the matching theorbist pants!
and the orchestra started today! Very, very exciting and so lovely to see all these wonderful people with us. The cast had a very well deserved day off, and the orchestra - minus the horns who start tomorrow - played through almost the entire opera. It's great to hear the work, which Erin has so faithfully and beautifully been playing on a small harpsichord, now come to life with all the gorgeous colours of a baroque band. Strings (including a gamba and two basses), two theorbos (and guitar and mandolin), bassoon and two harpsichords. And horns tomorrow. How lucky are we. Here's a panorama of the orchestra - giving due importance to Erin Helyard as the centre of the pic, and also of the orchestra!
and our last day in our lovely St Leonards studio. Today we did the studio run - the whole work from start to finish, with a fair amount of the costumes, and mostly without stopping. And extremely well it went. We were joined today by three members of Orchestra of the Antipodes - Matthew Greco who is leading, Anthea Cottee playing principal cello, and Josep Marti Duran playing theorbo. It was great to have them - it added another layer to the whole and it's really coming together. But sad to leave St Leonards which has been a lovely place to rehearse. Tomorrow bump in happens at the City Recital Hall Angel Place, and the first two orchestral calls will be happening. And an extremely well deserved day of rest for our wonderful cast. Here's a great pic of everyone at the end of the studio run today - well done all; great work (and sorry I missed a couple of faces in the pic).
and the week isn't quite over as yet - we have the studio run tomorrow. A big day today - we finished the walk through with the actors, and then ran part 1, and mostly ran part 2 in the second call. And we made it - all the way through. Hooray! Much concentration and on the spot fixes of small technical issues - but the whole piece is in great shape. We had visits from two Pinchgut families today which made things very lovely. Here's a pic of the two villains of the opera, taking a well earned (dramatic) rest from all their bad deeds, and also displaying two very nice pairs of boots!
and gosh it's been a big week. Today our three actors came into the rehearsal room and it was great to fit them into the ensemble. They are very fine and we have a wonderful show on our hands. We spent spent the day working through all the scenes in which the actors are involved. We're also starting to think about leaving our lovely rehearsal space to go to the theatre and all that that involves. I can't do better at this stage than point you to the rehearsal gallery we put up before - http://www.pinchgutopera.com.au/bajazet-gallery/. But for a final Friday thought here'a lovely pic of the cast where Sara is obviously telling a good joke on set.
and we have staged through to the end. And a very powerful end it is too. No spoilers though. A great day in the studio and wonderful now to see the whole arc of the piece. A definite sense of achievement from everyone, especially our sensational cast. Here's a pic of happy (and relieved) smiles from three very important people in the rehearsal room - Erin Helyard (conductor), Thomas de Mallet Burgess (director) and Tanya Leach (stage manager). Picture taken by Robert Catto.
and we're really getting towards the finale now. The pointy end as we're saying. And the dramatically highly charged part of the opera. Today we past the poison scene - you'll have to come and see what this is all about. A last production meeting before we get to the City Recital Hall, and final costume fittings. The first players from interstate and overseas start arriving in a couple of days. It's all happening. It's tremendously exciting and we can't wait to get into the theatre. Here's a lovely shot from Bridget - Chris Lowrey as Tamerlano, in tyrant mode.
We're moving towards the final stages of the opera now, and at the point where Tamerlano is revealing his true colours. We're also definitely on a timeline now for moving into the City Recital Hall Angel Place - props and costumes have moved up a gear, and it's very busy. We're finishing up the program now too, and today Bridget Elliot came back to finish up the headshots for this and take a few more rehearsal photos. Fortunately it was a beautifully sunny day in Sydney and we got lovely shots (for our previous try at this it was raining, which is almost the first time in our 14 year history that this has happened to us!). Here's a pic of today's rehearsal; Russell Harcourt as Andronico - the character who is on stage for most of opera, and Sara Macliver as Idaspe in the background.
and the start of a new week, and the last week before we go to Angel Place! It's getting so close. Part of what is being done while rehearsals are happening is sourcing or making all the props that will be used in the show. One of the more unusual props is pictured here. A ruined piano was requested, and our friends at Theme & Variations Piano Services came through with this beautiful partial keyboard and hammers from a Steinway that was indeed ruined in the recent Brisbane floods. It's a beautiful thing even in it's destroyed state, and we are very grateful for the loan. Our newly Helpmann-nominated Erin Helyard is examining it.
for the cast of Bajazet after six days of rehearsals..and an opportunity to find out about another of our singers! Christopher Lowrey - countertenor is an American currently based in London who is performing with Pinchgut for the first time, although his second time with @Erinhelyard after Brisbane Baroque earlier this year. Chris has a worldwide career performing as a counter-tenor in Europe and the USA. If you haven't yet heard him sing or seen him act...you really don't want to miss him as Tamerlano in #bajazet. www.christopherlowrey.com
and almost at the end of the second week. A terrific day in the studio today. In the morning session we got to the end of Act 2, and then in the afternoon we ran from the entirety of Acts 1 and 2, and it's wonderful to see the arc of the piece taking shape. Matt Marshall, who is the lighting designer for Bajazet (and was for Iphigénie) came in to see the run. Act 2 finishes with the quartet - sung by Tamerlano (Chris Lowrey), Irene (Helen Sherman), Asteria (Emily Edmonds) and Bajazet (Hadleigh Adams). It's a terrific piece and well represents the individual thoughts and journeys of each character. It's a difficult sing and they are all doing so well. Here's a pic of three of the four singers in the quartet in a moment of high drama.
and we're approaching, and have reached, some of the most emotionally charged parts of the opera. Incredible things are happening in the rehearsal room; it's a very gripping work. At the keyboard in rehearsals, artistic director and conductor Erin Helyard is deciding on how his orchestral forces will be used throughout the work. Some of this was laid down by Vivaldi in the score, but some was not. Particularly at the continuo end of the orchestra (the bass line, and the instruments that accompany both recits and arias) there are decisions to be made. We have two terrific 'pluckers' (players of lutes/theorbos/guitars) playing and Erin is hoping that one of them will be able to play mandolin for one of the arias. We've been very kindly lent a gorgeous piccolo mandolin by Tommie Andersson, and here's a pic of Erin holding this (very carefully!) so you can see how small it is. Tommie used this when we performed Vivaldi's Juditha Triumphans.
and another good day finished with an incredibly beautiful double rainbow and glorious sunset over a rain-washed Sydney. We've now staged up to Act 2 scene 7, and done some great emotional moments today - outrage from Tamerlano, and gorgeous arias from Asteria and Irene. Elsewhere everything is really, really, really busy. Set and props are coming along beautifully, costumes are looking great, the program material is almost together and we're less than two weeks away from the orchestra starting! Tomorrow marks the half way point in the rehearsal period before going to the City Recital Hall. Amazing! Here's a great pic taken by Bridget Elliot of Andronico (Russell Harcourt) and Irene (Helen Sherman) discussing disguises and spying in general!
and we moved well into Act 2 today. Great work. Today was mostly concerned with the confrontation between Andronico (Russell Harcourt) and Asteria (Emily Edmonds) and the aftermath. A rainy day in Sydney, but inside the studio everything is roaring along. Chris and Hadleigh were kind enough to come in and work through the overture again for some great rehearsal shots and here is one: the confrontation between two emperors - one the victor and one the defeated. Tamerlano and Bajazet with the photo taken by Bridget Elliot.
and week 2 begins. Everyone seems to have had a good, if busy and hard working, day off and we returned to the rehearsal studio ready to go. We almost got to the end of Act 1 today, and Irene (Helen Sherman) finally made an appearance. And what an appearance - her first aria Qual guerriero in campo - is an absolute showstopper, and sung magnificently by Helen. Also Bridget Elliot, our wonderful photographer came to some of today's rehearsals, which means great shots in the blog for the next while. And finally it is our director Thomas' birthday today, and here's a pic of our incredible stage manager Tanya and Thomas and a cake. Happy birthday Thomas!
No rehearsals today but a chance to get to know our cast...Emily Edmonds is Asteria in Bajazet. Emily is from Sydney but is based in London and just won a place in the prestigious Jette Parker Young Artists Programme at the Royal Opera House in London, commencing this September. Pinchgut's Bajazet will be the only opportunity to see her perform in Australia for at least two years due to the demanding schedule of the Programme. Asteria is Bajazet's daughter and a key character in the narrative of the opera. Four of our singers have flown over from London to be in Bajazet, Christopher Lowrey - countertenor , Russell Harcourt and Helen Sherman Mezzo-soprano. So pleased to have them with us!
and it's been a big week. A great day of rehearsals today. We pushed on to the end of Act 1 scene 7, which encompasses the scene where Asteria finds out that she is to be married to Tamerlano. Very powerful stuff, and incredible music. Then we went back to the beginning and ran from the start up to this point. We're almost finished staging Act 1, with 42 minutes of music already blocked. Looking and sounding wonderful. Congrats all - a great week's work and a very well deserved day off tomorrow. Here's a snap of a lovely moment with Bajazet and Asteria - father and daughter - in a small, peaceful moment, in amongst the destruction of their world.