Singing with the Orchestra
Last week, I sat in on the first orchestra rehearsal for Lyric Theatre @ Illinois’ and University of Illinois Symphony Orchestra’s concert presentation of excerpts from Samuel Barber’s Vanessa. I could not wait to begin working on the music with the talented chamber orchestra, and today, I had the opportunity to do so! This was quite a big deal for me because it was the first time I had sung solo in the Foellinger Great Hall unamplified (one of my greatest Illinois memories was singing the Sergeant of Police in The Pirates of Penzance in November 2018, but that performance utilized microphones). The acoustics of the Foellinger Great Hall are renowned, and some of the world’s greatest singers, including many of my vocal idols, have enjoyed giving recitals on this stage. It felt amazing singing with an orchestra in this space which is so kind to singers and provides plentiful natural amplification.
Over an intensive period the past few weeks, I have worked with vocal coaches to perfect the difficult music of my role, the Old Doctor. Going into the first combined rehearsal, I felt quite confident after an immensely helpful coaching session with Dr. Julie Gunn the previous night. Today, I felt that my music fit quite well with the orchestra, and once I acquired a sense of Todd Craven’s conducting, I felt even more solid. One of my favorite moments was when I sang one of my character’s solo sections from the end of the opera. Vanessa, who the Doctor has taken care of since she was a child, is leaving her estate to marry Anatol, a young man and the son of Vanessa’s former lover. In this excerpt, the Doctor reminisces on the passing of time and the impermanence of youth. The music is very poignant, and I was especially satisfied to experience how this sounded and felt with the orchestra in the Great Hall. I am very excited about the performance on Tuesday!