Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Orchestra

Just as our chorus is an integral part of PRO, so is our orchestra. Many of our local musicians have performed with us over the years, some of them for many years. My database, which tracks musician participation back to 1991, finds at least one of our Butterfly musicians played with us in the 1991 production, The Abduction from the Seraglio. She must have been a teenager.

Our orchestra for Madama Butterfly will be 36 members. They will have quite a task, as the music for Madama Butterfly normally calls for an orchestra of 50 - but we will use a standard reduction, as is appropriate to our venue.

Jane Swanson, who plays horn with the SLO Symphony has been of great service (I can't use the word instrumental here, can I?) in putting together the orchestra for Butterfly, using her contacts in SLO County to pull together the best possible group. We couldn't have done this without her. We are still working on the last couple of positions - we're short two, possibly three violinists. But rehearsals start this week, so I'm not sure we're going to find them in time.

It never ceases to amaze me of the caliber of the musicians in our area. These players get together for just five rehearsals before opening night. Can you imagine that??? I can't. And then they create the amazing sound that, with our wonderful singers, brings us to tears.

This year we had an extra task - the music scores that Maestro Ashens owns, and were being stored in Eugene, his former residence - had disappeared, so we were force to scrounge for music. We ended up doing an exchange with Livermore Valley Opera (supertitles for music - thank you Raquel!) and a loan from San Francisco Lyric Opera. Thanks to those wonderful folks, we had our music (although just barely in time!) for our musicians to pick up.

I just love the excitement of the musicians about a particular piece - you can hear it in their voices (whether spoken or written) and when I get to see them, you get to see it in the faces. I have never had quite that experience in my own life, so it's really wonderful to see it in others.

Just one more piece in the puzzle that is opera.

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