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."

5 comments:

  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"

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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  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.

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