A couple of months ago, my wife put a challenge in front of me: She gets emails about acting opportunities around town, and the Portland Opera was looking for Supernumeraries (Supers) for their upcoming production of Fidelio.
“What’s a Super again?” Apparently Supers are the moving human scenery in the background, that make up the crowd scenes, or are somehow used to enhance the show. We had been to several seasons of operas, so I had often wondered who all those people were… as in Norma, or Turandot… what fun it seemed to wear the great costumes and gesture and march about.
How bad could that be? So we signed up, and anticipated the coming rehearsals (which was to me a grueling schedule of weekday and weekend evenings coming up. (They even scheduled rehearsal on Halloween for god’s sake…
A minute for the plot first… Fidelio is Beethoven’s only opera, which takes place in a Spanish prison. Essentially Florestan is held prisoner, and he has become “inconvenient” for the Prison master Pizarro, and he must be killed. Florestan has a loving wife, Leonora, who takes on the role of a boy, “Fidelio” (Don’t they always in these things?) to get a job at the prison, to be close to Florestan, and of course to change the course of history. This allows the usual mixups (The daughter of Rocco (second in command) falls in love with Fidelio, etc. Jailarity ensues.. and all ends well eventually…
First hitch. It turns out that the male role that they slated me for was a prisoner. Cool I thought… bunch of guys singing.. I can do that… AND, well, I need to be prepared to strip to my boxers on stage and be in chains as I enter the prison… so I guess all of PDX will get to see me as I appear at the doctor’s office..
So with my inner-exhibitionist anticipation, we started rehearsals.
I have so much to say about this experience, I am going to try to break it up into concepts, and write what I can about each. It so far has been an extraordinary experience, and I can’t wait to share. I will take pictures as I can, but I suspect it will be difficult as we are busy back stage, and there is a lot of structure to what we can and can’t do. I will keep you posted.