I'm almost ready for Chicago! I have been memorizing for a while now, and it appears to be going well. Every once in a while I will miss a word, but hopefully after a few hundred more hours, I won't miss a thing.
The cast received the schedule today, and I am somewhat confused with it. But in general, we will be in rehearsal from 2-10 pm most days. The reason for the late practice is that as singers, we are really grumpy people if we have to sing in the morning. For some reason, churches haven't caught on to this yet! Also, it takes a while for singers to properly warm up. We have to do some pretty taxing things, so we have to always take great care of our instrument.
As far as memorizing goes, many people ask me how I memorize my music.
HOW TO MEMORIZE AN OPERA
1. Well, first thing's first - I have to have the music.
2. Then I go through the music and highlight all of my parts.
3. If I'm not familiar with the opera, I will listen to a recording and follow along in my music.
4. The next part is the most tedious. I pick out just a couple of pages and and try to sight sing my music. I intentionally don't use the piano in this step because I will memorize it much faster if I'm sight singing. Singers get used to the help of the piano, and if nothing is there to help me except my brain, then I will quickly learn it. Of course the piano is always there to help if I am having trouble.
5. Once a few pages are learned, I go to a recording, play just that section and sing along.
6. I repeat steps 4 & 5, but when I play the recording, I end up playing everything that I've learned up to that point, so by the time I've learned the last part of the opera, I have already sung the beginning 20 or 30 times and have memorized a lot of it.
7. I run the whole opera twice a day and just softly sing along so I don't hurt myself and eventually I have it memorized.
As for myself, I have a lot of training in several languages, so I don't have much trouble there, but that may be an extra step for someone else. Also, I photographically memorize music, so remembering isn't necessarily the hardest part. Honestly, the hardest part is not to get bored after you've sung it 100 times. I start to daydream and forget to come in. Nevertheless, I've learned from my many mistakes and have a pretty regimented process for memorizing.
So how long does it take? Well, a normal three hour opera, for me, assuming that I sing at least half of the time, will take only about two weeks. However, if it involves recitative or some very weird music, it may take a little longer. That's just memorizing however, there is a lot of preparation involved outside of that including acting, artistic elements, translations, etc.
This last week I was in Oklahoma and didn't get to watch my normal regimen of soccer games, like the US women's game at the Women's World Cup. If you are not a soccer fan, you may not know that the US team is ranked #1 in the world. So, when I got home, I watched the replay of the game on ESPN2 at 11pm...I kept rewinding it and replaying portions because it was completely incredible and didn't get to bed until 2:30 - it was one of the most exciting games I have ever seen - and I have seen maybe thousands of soccer matches. It was so incredible that I want to tell all you Americans about it, whether you appreciate it or not (kind of like opera in a way). In any case, it is one of the biggest stories in the rest of the world.
So at the Women's World Cup in Germany, the US (#1 in the world) and Brazil (#3) played in the Quarterfinals. You must win to advance. The US scored first when a Brazilian accidentally kicked the ball into their own goal in the 2nd minute.
As the game wore on, it appeared like the US was going to be in great position to win until the referee gave a penalty kick to Brazil late in the game, and on top of that, kicked a US player out of the game with a red card. Players almost always make their penalty kicks and it is very unlikely to win a game playing down a person - the US had to now deal with both of these issues. When the US goalie saved the penalty kick (one of the hardest things in sports) the referee said that it must be retaken (this is a very rare thing and still we have no idea why this happened; it either was an huge error on her part or perhaps the ref took some bribes to help Brazil win). You have to watch it to believe it...
With a score of 1-1, the game ended. So they went to 30 minutes of overtime; keep in mind that the US was a person short because of the red card. Brazil scored early, after the referee blew another call and it looked nearly impossible for the US to come back, but then in extra time of the overtime, in the 122nd minute, literally with seconds left in the game, the US scored a miraculous goal to tie it at 2-2.
Then the game went to penalty kicks where the US won (skip ahead to 5:00 in the video below to see the end of the shootout). So, the US advanced to the Semifinals on Wednesday and will play #7 ranked France.
This was the most exciting game since Landon Donovan's miraculous goal in the World Cup last year, allowing the US to advance with a goal in extra time at the end of regulation - seconds before the game would have ended. It was called "the shot heard around the world".
July 21-August 7 - Sugar Creek Opera - Daughter of the Regiment - August 4, 5, 7 - Watseka, IL (near Chicago)
August 8 - Audition - Kansas City Symphony Chorus