After a full and lovely night of sleep, my first morning in Charleston began with a visit to a favorite local coffee shop, Kudu, for one of the famous stuffed croissants and some iced coffee. Kyle and I sat on the patio to enjoy the perfect sunshine and cool breeze alongside a table full of Westminster choir members. Each of the ladies we sat with was either working to memorize opera roles or finishing papers/projects for class. Because this year the Spoleto rehearsal schedule and the Westminster school schedule did not line up, we actually arrived here before classes have concluded, and students either had to make arrangements to take finals early or agree to finish projects while in Charleston. With so many beautiful distractions, this has been a challenge. We will fly back to Princeton all together on Thursday for final performances at the Westminster Alumni Reunion (it will be my last time singing with Dr. Quist and Kantorei) and to participate in the Commencement ceremony and related events. After a whirlwind 36 hours or so, we will all fly back to Charleston and resume rehearsing.
Members of the choir are divided for opera bills this season at Spoleto. Eight members are singing in Matsukaze, a contemporary work based in the tradition of Japanese noh theatre. The other mainstage opera is a double bill of two one-acts – Mese Mariano by Umberto Giordano and Le Villi by Giacomo Puccini. Five choir members have titled roles in the Giordano, and the bulk of the choir is in the Puccini. Our first rehearsal for Le Villi was so much fun. The opening scene is a sort of garden party, with a table full of merrymakers and people generally carrying-on and having a good time. Lena Andreala, Christiana Barnard and I are serving glasses and pouring wine in the opening scene. The trickiest part is not tipping over anything on the tray! Our director, Stefano Vizioli, the assistant director and choreographer Pierluigi “Pigi” Vanelli, and the conductor Maurizio Barbacini are all Italian, and switch constantly between Italian and English. There have been a couple times so far that Stefano has given a direction to a choir member in Italian and realized a moment later than he forgot to switch.
Six of the men from the choir are dancing with six professional dancers from the Charleston area, and these men also had their first rehearsal today. A few are moving naturally on stage, and a few are working hard to develop a new skill in very little time. Our choir is marvelous at self-regulating, and the men have already planned extra rehearsals at night to ensure their collective success.
Our rehearsal ended early (!) because we got through all of the material that our director had planned for us. A group of us headed over to Kickin Chickin for some late night eats and a sudsy beverage before crawling, sleepy and happy, into our beds.