Week Three of Rehearsals

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By Francesca Zambello (Director)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It’s week three of Ring preparations and we have just about all of the cast members and production team here in San Francisco. Staging rehearsals are running six or seven days a week from morning to night. In a team effort between me, my trusted associate Christian, and the San Francisco Opera production staff (which includes everything from stage managers, music coaches, accompanists, prop masters, stagehands, assistant directors, etc., etc.), we are working our way through each opera. [Left: Christian Räth and Francesca share a late-night sushi strategy session]
Our biggest goal right now is to familiarize everyone with Siegfried and Götterdämmerung because these two productions have never been done in San Francisco and are completely new to this cast; this Götterdämmerung has never been done at all, so it’s new to all of us! We also have to catch up all the new people who weren’t here when we did Rheingold in 2008 and Die Walküre in 2010. Combined, the Ring cycle is 17 hours—that’s a lot of opera to stage! [Right: Brandon Jovanovich (Siegmund) rehearses with Daniel Sumegi (Hunding)]
Currently, my own specific focus is working through Götterdämmerung with our fine cast including Ian Storey, Nina Stemme, Gordon Hawkins, Melissa Citro, Gerd Grochowski and Andrea Silvestrelli. This week I am tackling the thorny and upsetting Act Two. Each rehearsal usually begins with all of us sitting down together to discuss the content and ideas within the scene we are about to rehearse. This
discussion often takes about an hour or so, after which the singers quickly go through the music together as well. Because so many of us in the cast and on staff at San Francisco Opera have worked together in the past, we have a wonderful feeling of ensemble and an open exchange of ideas.  Staging a scene then, and actually determining exactly what each singer will specifically do, flows naturally from this conversational process. [Ian Storey (Siegfried) and Nina Stemme (Brünnhilde) rehearse on Brünnhilde’s rock]