Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Behind Behind-the-Scenes

There is a story behind every story and my behind-the-scenes series for Edmonton Opera is no exception.

It all began with one photo:

As I discussed in my Epilogue post after finishing Tales of Hoffmann, this photo signaled my transformation from a choir girl into a chorus carnie. While others may be able to seamlessly adopt a new persona with no loss of self, it was foreign to me to negotiate the presence of two characters. I felt an internal conflict to stay grounded, while allowing myself to indulge narcissistic tendencies. However, Opera is indulgence. Everything about Opera is excess: personalities, voices, costumes, sets, wigs, make-up... there is nothing demure about this Art form. I recognized the need to change my mindset. I am not portraying myself on stage. I am portraying a character. Yes, I amplify my own characteristics and draw upon personal experiences to motivate my character, in order to convey a story on stage but, ultimately, that is not the person I play in daily life.

In real life, I play the character of myself. It is a role I know well. I have spent many years fine-tuning my craft, developing my skills, personality, and style. I have not had to stray from this template... until I entered Opera Chorus. Suddenly, there was a team of professionals whose sole job was to transform me. As a performer, you become a vessel for character habitation. A performer's metamorphosis allows them to communicate with an audience. I realize now that I should not be wary of the transformative attention that Opera fosters, but rather, I should embrace the opportunity to try on another character. Who knows, maybe it is a better fit than the role I currently play. We are all changing as people. Opera creates an escapist world where you become somebody else. Even though my identity was shaken at some points throughout the process, I have come out of this season with a better sense of self. I also recognize that the audience does not see this transformation process.

Thus, this series of behind-the-scenes previews document the transformation process of the performers during Edmonton Opera's Eugene Onegin. It is not something that can be visualized in a three and a half hour performance viewing. There is so much to see, learn, and understand throughout a process like this. Therefore, the photo of a Choir Girl's narcissistic fascination with her own reflection is what inspired the series of previews. My goal was to take audiences behind-the-scenes of the Opera world by embracing audio interviews, writing, and photography by Nanc Price to capture the production process, run-throughs, and technical rehearsals.

It is important to note the human component of Opera. There is a real sense of play. For the performers, as well as Nanc and I documenting the process. We all enjoy posing for photos, getting up to antics backstage, and we are all addicted to our smartphones.

Enjoy the conclusion of this behind behind-the-scenes post as Nanc and I accepted the challenge to capture the world behind the curtain.

BTW: Tickets are still available to the final performance of Edmonton Opera's Eugene Onegin this evening.

Photography by Nanc Price


To all the staff and performers at Edmonton Opera who were generous enough to open the backstage doors to a Choir Girl and Mad Scientist to indulge our Artistic vision. I value the trust and freedom you granted us. Thank-you.

To my fellow collaborator, Mad Scientist during the day and photographer by night, Nanc Price. Thanks for your patience with me as I solidified my artistic vision for this series, providing constant photographic inspiration for posts, and your speedy ability to edit down the 1800 pictures you would obtain from one shoot in order to not overwhelm a Choir Girl.

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