Passion, Obsession, and Insomnia

Three weeks into rehearsal and I am now well into the pattern so familiar from film shoots. At the end of an impossibly long day, my mind is churning to try and digest and evaluate what has happened and simultaneously think and plan ahead for the following day (and weeks).

A mix of obsession with detail (shoes for the performers, the colour of a chair, the precise turn of a head, the disturbingly sour expression on someone’s face) combines with immersion in the grand scheme (the arc of the story, the roots of the opera, the themes of jealousy and death, nostalgia and premonition) and is then joined, after a few hours fitful sleep, by jolting waves of doubt.

How can I pull it off? How can I help the huge number of performers (10 soloists 10 dancers, 56 chorus, 22 children) – so disparate in their needs, problems and experience – reach a coherent, unified and vital presence? How can I divest the production of cliché? How can I manage to get through each rehearsal session with even the minimal goal of a clear shape to it that satisfies me musically and visually?

A couple of nights ago I gave up trying to sleep at 4am, got up, made this little self-portrait and then got on with the business of planning the scene I was to rehearse that morning with the entire chorus – a fight scene.


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