I’m not an opera lover. At least I never was. But maybe that changed this week, thanks to four very talented people.
I was, at first, skeptical and a bit reluctant when I was asked to play the part of Baron Douphol in Barga’s Bel Canto production of “La Traviata.” It probably helped that at the time the casting was suggested I had consumed the better part of a bottle of something, and I was told that all I had to do in the role was sit at a table and drink champagne. Sounded easy, and I was tipsy, so I said sure. Why not?
It turned out that a bit more would be required of the Baron. In the first rehearsal, I learned that I would be making an entrance down a staircase. Good god! What if I tripped and went rolling across the stage? And instead of sitting comfortably, happily sipping champagne, I’d have to move around and show how happy, grumpy, angry, and menacing I was. Yikes.
I’d have to act!
Fortunately, there was no speaking involved, or (heaven forbid) singing. So I accepted the challenge. Not that I had much choice at this point. But the truth was, I was happy to be involved. I was having fun.
While I’ve held various roles in television and film, it’s always been behind the camera. And the stage is something else. Something I had never experienced and never really understood. As rehearsals progressed, from blocking, to adding music, to finally getting onstage for dress rehearsal at the beautiful Teatro Differente, I found that not only was I enjoying the experience, I was learning a lot about how the stage works. I have no idea if this will serve me in future pursuits, but it doesn’t matter. I was fascinated with the process.
Which brings me back to those four talented people.
Soprano Sally Li, Tenor Alberto Sousa, Baritone Bruno Caproni, and pianist Julian Evans. These are true artists, and I feel very fortunate to have shared the stage with them, but more importantly, to watch them develop the production over the course of just a few days, and then to see it come to fruition on opening night in four mesmerizing performances that drew me in and moved me in a very unexpected way.
It was a very personal experience, in an intimate setting. I doubt that any production at La Scala or Covent Garden or the Met would have the same impact on me, but that’s okay. I feel very lucky to have been a part of Bel Canto.
And best of all, I made it down those stairs.