Today’s Westminster Choir rehearsal was brought to you by Britten and Bach.
We rehearsed in quartets, which I absolutely love because I am between tenor Kyle Van Schoonhoven and bass Andrew Maggio (the soprano in quartet 10 – we are the ends of our sections – is Shari Perman). The listening in the ensemble is different when we are mixed, and it helps build our consciousness and awareness of the intricacies of other parts. It can also be helpful for our tuning, as it will lay bare any challenging moments in the repertoire. We rehearsed Hymn to St. Cecelia, The Ballad of Green Broom, and Der Geist Hilft. The last time we rehearsed these was before our performance at the ACDA national convention in Dallas last March, and it is exciting to return to them here, and now, when stresses of classes, recitals, and oral exams has ended.
Tonight was a full orchestral dress rehearsal for the opera, and we are enjoying our costumes to the utmost. The costume designer, Roberta Guidi di Bagno, has an international reputation and our outfits are further evidence her visionary status. Although they were made in Italy, the costumes for the chorus women of Le Villi have 50s floral print dresses with the silhouette characteristic of June Cleaver.
The tiny waists and blue hues (all slightly different but all echoing the forget-me-not flower print of the wall-papered set) are accented by our Doris Day flipped-up, bobbed wigs and headbands. The men of the Le Villi chorus are in dapper suits, all in a cream, tan, and brown color palate. They look ready for a game of cricket at Downton Abbey!
The flip side of these costumes is, of course, the crazy train. After the first two scenes, the women have a complete change – new wigs, new make-up, new clothes. We go from Stepford Wife to mental patient in moments.
Our wigs are outrageous – some have bald spots, some look like they haven’t been brushed in years, all look frightening. We don full canvas hospital gowns, complete with back ties.We are barefoot, and our eyes are blacked out.
The individual effect is scary, the collective effect is terrifying. It will be fascinating to see the effect this has on an audience when we finally get to share it!