Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Tom Goes to the Opera: mingle-mangle

Stephen Key
There’s one intermission in our Seraglio. I discovered where this takes place last Friday in the rehearsal hall, when we ran through the opera in front of an invited audience. A theatrical production with an intermission-- opera or theatre, tragedy or comedy--has to end the first part with enough dramatic intensity to compel the audience back for part two.

Imagine my surprise, to realize the end of Act I - before the curtain crashes down and the music pounds to a finish--is actually Sarah and me alone onstage as Konstanze and Pasha Selim. The audience let out a big sound, a shouted “Oh my God!”, Brian August, our stage manager, called, “Fifteen minute break!” and I exercised what self control I had left just to walk to my backpack, put on my shoes and get some water. 

All of us were experiencing what our director, Chris Alexander, set us up for on the first day of rehearsal: mingle-mangle. It’s the nature of Mozart, Shakespeare, and, most importantly, life itself. It’s the relationship of opposites: shadow/light, silence/sound, fear/love. Friday, Chris affirmed we were succeeding with the mingle-mangle. He noted we instantly swerved between the serious and the comic, the dark and the light, even death and life.

On stage with world class singers, driven by Mozart, guided by a master director of opera and theatre, I realize that the more we embrace life as tragedy at the end of Act I, the better we can know life as a divine comedy by opera’s end. Isn’t that what we want to know of life itself? For anyone seeking hope in the mingle-mangle of humanity October, 2016, The Abduction from the Seraglio should be required viewing.

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