Thursday, April 5, 2012

"The 'Orfeo' Diaries": Learning from the Best

Resident Artist Rebecca Sjöwall (Amore)
One of the best things about being a Resident Artist here at Arizona Opera is the mainstage experience the Company offers each of us. Not only does a mainstage role give me the chance to perform and add a line to my resume (which is very crucial in a young singer's career!), but it also allows me to observe first-class, seasoned professionals. Since joining the Program, I have watchedand been blown away bythe guest artists as they work through the rehearsal and performance process. In an up close and personal way, I have been able to witness how these performers take direction, handle stage business, recover from mistakes, deal with costuming issues, protect their voices, create a character that is uniquely their own, etc. I could go on and on. But my point is: no amount of training in a university nor preparing a role (at home or with my teacher or coach) could provide the same amount of knowledge or know-how as working side by side with these singers.

The same is true of the production teams. I have had the opportunity to collaborate with several different conductors, directors and choreographers, all of whom have had their own styles and approaches to the rehearsal process and offer their own individual perspectives. For me, as someone whose strength lies much more in performing than in auditioning, the chance to show these influential people who I am and what I can do not to mention learning from themis priceless.

Some guest artists have gone even further, "above and beyond" their purely professional duties, and taken me under their wings outside of rehearsal. Remember the beautiful Kelly Kaduce, AZO's Nedda in Pagliacci? She worked with me, completely of her own volition, outside of rehearsal and refused to let me pay her. As did Jill Gardner. And Peter Volpe. And Greer Grimsley and Luretta Bybee. What an awe-inspiring tag team! Again, I could go on and on, but I will stop the name dropping! To be able to hone my craft with artists of this caliber, along with the many others who have shared their precious time off with me, is invaluable. It has helped me to grow tremendously as an artist and has enabled me to get to know these fantastic people and their journeys.

I am thrilled and humbled that my Orfeo and Euridice are just as generous and encouraging as previous guests. Both Katharine and Christine are not only supportive colleagues in the rehearsal room but have also offered their time and expertise when they have been "off the clock" as well. I just read Ryan Taylor's latest blog entry, and he hit the nail on the head. It is a gift of immeasurable value to work with the artists. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to share the stage with these two brilliant, warm-hearted, fiercely talented women! — Soprano Rebecca Sj
öwall (Amore)

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