Most people don't know what goes on behind the scenes at an opera house. If they did, they might know that vultures smell really 'interesting', that the cast practices their fight scenes before every performance, and that orchestra musicians are multi-lingual in a number of opera-related words (love, blood, jealousy) because they're used in almost every opera, in every language.
On September 29th, violinist Heather Wittels, cellist Mark Brandfonbrener and I participated in an event called “Lyric Uncorked: Meet the Orchestra.” Lyric Uncorked is a series of casual happy-hour events designed for patrons who may be new to opera or who don’t attend regularly. They learn a bit more about opera, have glimpses of lesser-known aspects of opera life, and get to know the people who work there. Other featured guests in the series have been soprano Amanda Majeski and Lyric Fight Director Nick Sandys Pullin.
We enjoyed wine and cheese with the participants, and shared stories and thoughts about our experience as members of the opera orchestra. Patrons inquired about what makes playing opera unique, why we love the art form, how one production differs from another, and what is involved in the audition process. They also asked how we prepare for rehearsals and performances, and what we achieve in rehearsals. We shared anecdotes of memorable moments in the pit, both sublime and silly, and wrapped up the event with a tour of the pit and orchestra lounge.
Mark, Heather, and I had a wonderful time sharing our love of opera with the audience in a different setting, and they seemed to enjoy the opportunity to get behind the scenes with the Lyric orchestra musicians.