For a player new to the world of opera, opera rehearsals can feel a little foreign. The music can go on for long periods – not unlike in Mahler or Bruckner symphonies. Tempos can suddenly shift and change every 2 or 3 measures. You really have to stay on your toes.
The progression of rehearsals is very different too than in symphony orchestras. During the sitzprobe, the singers are much louder than you expect. Earplugs are something to think seriously about, especially when playing in a stage pit.
Over at the AZOOMA site – another site I administrate – I have written a detailed, two-part article on opera rehearsals.
Below is an excerpt:
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Organizing and fine-tuning an opera production is a huge undertaking to say the least. Of course this is something that is not accomplished overnight. The unique combination of drama, theater and music that comprises opera requires a great deal of preparation and planning.
A major element in this preparation is rehearsal time. This is time set aside for practicing, polishing and putting together all the pieces that make up a great night at the opera.
How long does it take?
Stage preparation begins as separate technical rehearsals – for staging and lighting, the chorus, orchestra and the soloists. Because hundreds of people might be involved in a production, schedules are worked out many months in advance. This alone takes a lot of planning and organizing.
For the Arizona Opera Orchestra, the process moves forward through four stages:
- Individual practice
- Reading rehearsals
- Dress rehearsals
These stages build upon each other and take place throughout the weeks prior to opening night.
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