To me, the final days before a major project always seem to be both compressed and lengthened in time. In this case, my upcoming project is the workshop performance of my opera, Imogen, by New Moon Opera Company on the 22nd of this month. Just 8 days away now. I wonder if this is how it feels to birds when they near the resting point of their long migration.
It's been very exciting to hear my piece come together. I spent such a long time carefully editing the libretto (the text) and then writing and editing the nearly two hour score. The 3 to 4 hour rehearsals seem to fly by in my perception. I almost always choose not to sing my own compositions, so all of the parts are being performed by my colleagues in the opera scene here in Chicago. We're lucky to have such an amazingly talented and supportive storefront opera community here in this city. All of the performers have put such great work into bringing the music together for Imogen, and the table read (where we all sat around a table and read the libretto together) on Tuesday with my friend William Bullion (who has been around the Chicago theater scene for a long while, but most recently with The Conspirators theater collective) went really well. Learning brand new music is hard enough for singers, but to be expected to present a character and a plot as well? Opera singers have an incredibly difficult job. Not only do they have to learn the rhythms and find the notes seemingly out of thin air, but they are also expected to deal with text and present a story...but this incredible cast is taking it all in stride! Even the ensembles that I expected to be very difficult to put together are coming along really well. Then after rehearsal I go on with my daily life and I think about what I heard in rehearsal and I can't WAIT to get back to the work...so time lengthens. I don't want to do day-to-day things, I just want to work on the show. People have told me this focus, bordering on obsession, is part of my (adult diagnosed) ADHD. I find it useful when I'm creating but sometimes, at this point in the process, it can get really frustrating. I need to remember that everyone needs breaks, including me, in order to process the progress we make in rehearsals.
And I don't really want this journey to end, so the breaks are good. When you're in a show with people, you form a kind of bond that you miss when the show closes. And this show will only have one performance. So when it's over, it'll be over and we'll disperse. Luckily, Chicago is a magical city with abundant theater and especially opera, so we'll see each other around. Hopefully this production will be a fond memory for us all; another brick in the bridge of our friendships and our community here in the city of broad shoulders.