Entering our fourth VOA season as subscribers, my husband Paul and I have been fortunate enough to have seen Frédérique Vézina and Roger Honeywell in La Bohème, Judith Forst in Salome, and both Aaron St. Clair Nicholson and Thomas Goerz in The Marriage of Figaro. Quebecois conductor Jacques Lacombe, conducting the Vancouver Opera Orchestra and Vancouver Opera Chorus (with Leslie Dala as Chorus Director) we've also seen before when he conducted the orchestra for Bohème. Feels like old home week! Nicholson & Vézina, Act II -- photo from the press release kit provided by VOA
Judith Forst, as herself, and as the opera's Irene -- Forst is a formidable and gorgeous woman "of a certain age"! Brava, indeed!
Old home week maybe, but there's nothing old hat about this stunning production, according to what I've read so far.. I've followed along on the VOA blog to get an idea of the technology used to project a variety of landscapes on the stage -- Tim Matheson, an award-winning video designer and photographer is responsible for this. Set and costume design was in the hands of two-time Dora Mavor award-winner Sue LePage. The action depicted on the blog is pretty exciting -- definitely check it out -- but tonight before the show, we bloggers will get a special peek behind the scenes.
I'm sitting at a table in the lobby right now writing this, next to the obviously-very-talented Miranda (check out her wedding photography). We've just been joined by the very dapper Stacey, who chose to wear his black Boulets with his suit, rather than the burgundy ones I'd been rooting for (the burgundy would have matched my Fluevogs, but maybe there can be too much of a good thing!). Once the final crew member arrives, possibly in a new Philip Lim dress, Ling will be taking us on a tour. I'm very keen to see the stage from the other side after a few years sitting in the audience.
Fun! Just sitting here at our bloggers' table, sipping our drinks and keyboarding madly away, we've already attracted the attention of curious opera-goers who want to know what we're up to. One observant patron wanted to know if Sue Lepage might be related to Robert Lepage -- we couldn't answer her, but she decided it might not be important to know definitively -- more entertaining simply to speculate. . .
We've just come back from our backstage tour and it was fascinating. A bit like going behind the wizard's curtain, except that this wizard has many more tricks up his sleeve than Dorothy's poor old fraud. I took a number of poor-to-mediocre photographs which I'll try to post later, but for now, I'll just tell you that the set is spare but dramatic (as you can see in the photo above). What was revelatory? The number of projectors which will throw images on the several screens, turning the set into any number of different landscapes. Vancouver Opera-goers will recognize the technique from earlier operas -- Fidelio, for example -- but it sounds as if the photographs and videos will be much more extensive, more lush or striking, more integral to the action and characterization.
What else made me feel as if I'd entered an inner sanctum? Getting to see the Stage Manager's book, full of post-it notes in a sophisticated colour-coding system; noticing the markers on the floor depicting where singers will stand or chairs should be placed; seeing the tracks on which the old Datsun will roll out; noting various props laid out carefully on a table divided carefully with coloured tape and labelled to avoid any mishaps; burlap sacks full of potatoes, rows of vintage luggage, an old bicycle standing alone, waiting for its turn in the limelight.
And now the audience is milling about around us. I'm so impressed at how well my fellow bloggers are able to focus -- I'm more easily distractable, so tempted simply to stop and ogle. I did foray out before we went backstage and got permission from one patron to photograph her vertiginous bowed-and-buckled shoes, but I'd like to do more of that. Maybe in the intermission.
In fact, it's almost time to head inside to my seat. I'm going to check out the line-up in the Women's Room. There goes the first warning bell that doors will soon be closing. I'm going to hit "Publish" and put this first post out there. And then I'll be back in the Intermission. See you then.