Monday, July 13, 2009

Luxury Casting

My first time through Ulysses tonight, in the rehearsal room, 5 days before we move into the theatre.

An embarrassment of riches. The entire roster - 15 superbly gifted singers - throw themselves into roles big and small. Studio singers make brief finely-etched appearances, and the core orchestra of keyboards, lutes, viol and cello coaxes an amazing range of music out of their instruments.

This is the beauty of an ensemble company. Mimi sings Cupid, Marcello plays Jupiter, Musetta is Minerva, and Rodolfo chews scenery (and everything else) as the comic tenor. Alcindoro is Neptune, and stars of Steve Blier's upcoming recital who will sing Grieg and the Craigslistlieder appear as a shepherd and a son. Fiordiligi is the old nurse, Dorabella the young maidservant, Despina the goddess Fortuna. And, in a wonderful but inadvertent casting touch, Ferrando, Guglielmo and Alfonso are Penelope's three unsuccessful suitors. And they all do so with commitment and collegiality.

This all made reasonably good sense when we were putting the puzzle together back in December, but when it rolled by me tonight, I was simultaneously surprised by and thankful for the good fortune to work with these people and play a part in their careers.

A snapshot of Ulysses, frozen in time on 7/13/09:

"If a heart burns, it burns in flames of joy.
And whoever plays the game of love never loses."

"Man is arrogant, and heaven’s willingness to forgive him causes his downfall.
Neptune will not dishonor himself by tolerating man's transgressions."

"Who has changed my peaceful sleep into torment?
Who changed my rest into misfortune?
What deity watches over those who sleep?
O god of slumber, you are also the brother of death."

"You slept for a long time, and you still speak of dreams.
You are shrewd, Ulysses, but Minerva is wiser."

"It was noble of generous Ulysses to punish the Trojans,
but perhaps heaven is angered by the fall of Troy.
Perhaps heaven demanded his life in exchange."

"Lovely Helen of Troy received me.
I gazed into her eyes, wondering if the world were full of men like Paris.
For such a woman, a single man is little prey."

"This imminent danger must spur you to daring deeds.
Telemaco returns, and perhaps Ulysses as well."

"Jupiter cries for vengeance!
This is how the bow shoots!"

"Because of you, I bless all of my past sorrow.
We no longer remember the pain of the past, for all is pleasure."

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