The Breakfast Nook

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By Francesca Zambello (Director)

Friday, April 29, 2011

At the end of a long day of rehearsals, I often sit and think to myself, “Where did I start this morning?” No, not at my apartment…today really got started in Act Two of Götterdämmerung. I call this scene the “Breakfast Nook,” which is as good a place as any to begin the day. This small scene takes place during Hagen's dream in which his father Alberich visits him and urges him to win back possession of the Ring from Siegfried. Hagen then wakes up and calls the vassals together for a double wedding of Brünnhilde to Gunther and Siegfried to Gutrune. [Left: Andrea Silvestrelli (Hagen)]

I worked with the singers to try acting out this scene in various locations—first in a breakfast room and then in Hagen's bedroom. Both options offer problems and solutions. This kind of "two-in-one" scene is always tricky to locate visually before going into the clearly defined big wedding scene.

From there we moved on to the wedding scene where we spent the rest of the day with Hagen, Gunther, Gutrune, Brünnhilde and Siegfried. We worked through staging the scene but spent a large portion of our time in discussion to make sure that we were all clear on every intention and thought of each character. When we talk through the language of a scene, I also like for the characters to translate their lines into their own words. It is incredibly interesting to hear how each of our fine singers interpreted the texts. In this case Hagen (Andrea Silvestrelli) spoke his entire role in Italian, Brünnhilde (Nina Stemme) in Swedish and the others in German and English. Once we were back to singing Wagner’s German texts, the music staff in the room—conductor Sara Jobin, prompter Susan Hult and coach and accompanist Bryndon Hassman—worked with the singers to be sure they were musically clear and correct. We successfully completed working through what I call Version A of this act and we will start refinements Thursday. [Right: Nina Stemme as Brünnhilde in 2010]
After a tiring yet productive morning with the Gibichungs, I spent the evening with Heidi Melton (Sieglinde) and Brandon Jovanovich (Siegmund) as we worked thru Act One of Die Walküre. I had an amazing feeling going back in time to meet Siegfried's father and mother after spending all morning with the son this passionate love affair will produce.