I’m writing at the beginning of the second week of rehearsal for La Cenerentola (Cinderella) at Leipzig Opera. Last week I started rehearsals with my new cast, it was a week finding out how they tick, and managing the interface between our quirky little show created on the other side of the planet, and this very traditional opera house. I’ve only been here a week and the show is already 10 minutes longer – some musical cuts have been opened, an aria for the baritone playing Don Magnifico has been restored and I’ve been told the overture will be played complete, or not at all, by the famous Gewandhaus Orchestra. Still, imagine the extraordinary luxury of having one of the great orchestras in the world in the pit playing Rossini!!
Designer Dan Potra was here for costume fittings last week too – he’s now back in Oz for his next gig – Turandot on Sydney Harbour for Opera Australia. Lighting designer Matt Marshall has now met the Leipzig technical team – he’ll be working with them to realise the magical world this production evokes. The snow we had here in Leipzig last week and the need for big coats, gloves and scarves further adds to the Dickensian atmosphere (we had to use our imaginations when we created it in Brisbane). Yesterday Matt and I took the 90-minute train trip to Berlin to do some shopping at Hackescher Hofe, which was fun. How lucky am I to have that great city – and others – so close by for the next few weeks!
The cast here is lovely and luckily I’ve already worked with conductor Anthony Bramall and directed two of the singers, Matthias Hausmann (Dandini) and Jose Fardilha (Magnifico), both wonderful comic actors, in Don Pasquale here two years ago. Our very beautiful and extremely talented Canadian mezzosoprano Wallis Giunta will be an adorable Cinderella. I meet the chorus this week too. I hope they’re up for the enormous amount of chorus action and choreographed silliness in this production – I will never forget how fabulous the OperaQ gents were in 2013. They were such a huge part of the production’s crazy energy so I’m determined to capture their spirit, inventiveness and quirkiness here in Leipzig. My challenge this week will be to explain all those Downton Abbey references via my assistant director – I just hope they don’t get lost in translation!
Artistic Director, OperaQ