June 28, 2013

What goes through an opera singer's mind during a freeze

There are times, when you're singing a role in an opera, when you must remain motionless on stage for an extended period of time. This happens quite a lot, actually - the reasons may include the following:

  • You just died, and have to lie on the floor like a proper corpse;
  • The stage director has ordered a "freeze", which is basically what happened in every episode of the old sit-com "Bewitched" when Samantha would wiggle her nose and time would stop for all mortal beings; or
  • One of the other artists has a big aria and you have to take care not to disturb the focus of the audience on that music by, well, moving.
These occasions can last for a couple of minutes or for awkwardly lengthy periods during which your arms ache, your nose itches, drops of sweat trickle into your eyes, and your brain is filled with a myriad of relevant and not-so-much relevant thoughts. These could be typical:

  • "I could really go for some waffles right now"
  • "Did I lock my car?"
  • "OMG - if that little kid in the front row doesn't stop swinging his legs back and forth he's gonna turn up missing during intermission..."
  • "The third alto from the left in the front row of the chorus is about to fall out of that dress. Not sure we're ready for a topless villager..."
  • "Hmmm... this scene lasts another 7 minutes. I'm going to pee my pants in 3 minutes. Problem."
  • "...and X = pi. Yes, if my calculations are correct, time travel is possible."
  • "Tired of apprentice programs. Tired of covering roles. I'm giving it six more months and then I'm working at Dad's seed & garden store."
  • "My foot is asleep."
  • "Let's see now, what's my next line? Wait - what IS my next line???  OH CRAP I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT MY NEXT LINE IS."
  • "You know, when you think about it, Colbert says funny things, whereas Stewart says things funny. That's the difference."
  • "Johnny Depp as Tonto. Hmmmm."
  • "My wig is sliding off my head, v-e-r-y  s-l-o-w-l-y. Well, if it lands of the floor, it lands on the floor."
  • "The woodwinds look bored down there in the pit. The 2nd clarinet is putting on weight lately."
  • "If I move my hand down there very surreptitiously and scratch, I wonder if anyone would notice?"
  • "I'm staring right at the conductor, watching the baton, and I don't see a beat anywhere. Geez, my  6-year-old daughter has better stick technique."
  • "Yep - no doubt about it. Waffles sound really good."


  1. I once played Narraboth in Salome in a very brief costume most of which was a short golden skirt. In this version we plated it at the front of the stage with the orchestra behind us. At one stage I had to go to the front of the stage and face the back in a freeze. Behind and below me I heard an audience member say "Schön"

  2. freezing a mass of people for a Rossini opera chorus, casually transfer weight onto the guy next to you til you are relaxed completely. he can't turn around to see who it is. problem solved.

  3. you forgot... Curse the costumer who decided to have four layers of clothing! I'm going to sweat myself to death before the end of this number.

  4. From the Horn player in the pit, transposing a printed part: When the singers voice changes range. What the heck key "are" you singing in.

  5. My favorite freeze is when you get to nap on stage because it's time to pretend to nap on stage... unless you're Suzuki trying to sit on a restless Trouble. Then it's much less pleasant.