Monday, January 08, 2007

Just When I Thought I Was Out...

…they pull me back in!

And so it goes. After spending a decade with the Portland Opera AGMA Chorus I somehow got out of the “family” two years ago. Don’t get me wrong, it’s the best paying gig in Portland. Union wages are hard to beat for singers. But it’s not a full time gig. It don’t pay all da bills, know what I mean? For two years I’ve been successfully keeping busy with other performing gigs on cruise vessels, musical theatre, and interactive dinner theatre. But last November I got the call…

Sometimes, in way out towns like Portland, Ore-GONE, singers do not realize the responsibility and privilege it is to be in a performers union. This ain’t community theatre folks. Sure, the Met Chorus members may earn six figures a year, and we earn enough to make car & insurance payments (‘course, I understand six figures in NYC is just enough to keep you riding in a taxi) but we all work for the same union with the same rules. A professional opera company expects their performers to work hard in the allotted time, be ON time, memorize music, learn staging, etc.

Well, a new bass they hired this season found that the responsibility of actually showing up to rehearsals was too great. He managed to miss enough rehearsal that he was promptly booted. Hmmm…who can we get to fill this AGMA spot for the rest of the season? Oh, I know! Let’s cal Evil Baritone. He may be evil, but he’s professional and dependable. So they called me. And I had an open schedule. So I’m back in the chorus for three more shows.

But I had forgotten how entertaining music rehearsals can be. P.O. has a new young Chorus Master who emigrated from Great Britain. His accent is charming and he can insult you with a smile and you’d ask for seconds. I think England is more open with their sex talk, whereas here in puritanical America we prefer subtle innuendo. Well, the following is a list of comments made to a professional chorus in music rehearsals. Mind you, only an occasional snigger ensued after some comments, but for the most part we have kept our professionalism very well. These are MUSICAL notes, people. Interpret them how you will…

Ah, coffee…fluid of life.

We kinda want the audience to go to sleep here.

Pucker the lips. Make it pure.

Hold your mouth open and fill it.

Put it in the back of your throat.

You don’t want to move from the long to the short.

You have to sit perfectly on the root.

Please mind your labial proximate.

Take a snatch breath.

And my personal favorite:
It’s not the length…it’s the strength.

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