Parsifal Bologna ’til the end of the first week

“When do we do a full dress rehearsal again?” “Friday.” “Friday? … What day is it today, then?” “Saturday.” “Saturday? Really?” “Yes!” “Saturday … wow, it feels like Thursday … I think …”

Saturday turned out to be an unexpected long day in the theatre, with a full dress rehearsal of all three acts, despite us only having been on the stage once. In retrospect, it was a little like a dry run for launching a rocket, so everyone backstage (and onstage) could work out what they didn’t know needed to be done a couple of hours prior. We arrived very early and climbed the stairs to the attic studio for our warming up. My half-year of regular yoga and cycling training along with six weeks of boot camp for Parsifal seems to have spontaneously borne fruit, and I now have one or two muscles. Very handy, because for me it’s easier to hang both with and on muscles.

It’s all very familiar. New dancers and contortionists, but also a couple of the original cast; new singers and stage crew also, but also Anna Larsen and Andrew Richards again in the roles of Kundry and Parsifal. And speaking of whom, currently the sidewalls of Act 2, instead of being solid are semi-transparent scrim, so we could see all of what they get up to while de-roping sidestage. I was watching the DVD of the opera a couple of days ago, and Andrew is awfully scary in his anguish after almost following his desire with Kundry, and then Anna, when we were onstage again at the end of the rehearsal and she’s going crazy, it’s absolutely goose bump thrilling; she’s completely hardcore and metal, and this was only a rehearsal.

Us then, getting the wigs pulled back on (quite like scalp bondage), getting almost naked and covered in white body-paint (like skin bondage), and then on with the ropes. In Brussels, we were directly behind the stage, so we could hear where they were up to in the first Act and know where we needed to be. Now we’re upstairs and can’t hear them at all, so by the time our call came we were at least five minutes late. Not that it ultimately mattered; I think the most important part of the run was everyone working out their collective timing, rather than merely getting through everything onstage. In the end we didn’t hang anyway, as we hadn’t rehearsed with the mechanists and techies, so it went pear-shaped.

Which was the task of yesterday morning, Sunday at 11am onstage. We made a very approximate warmup and were there with the stage managers (who are amazing in that calm, efficient and dependable way) and Klingsor to get all the cues sorted out. It’s turned out the video I had filmed of the final dress rehearsal in Brussels (from which things nonetheless were changed) has been essential in getting this back together. Unlike dance, where restaging a piece in the last at least fifteen years has been a process of watching video, in Opera it seems dependant on the written notes in the score, which are open to far more interpretation than a video, especially when passed from person to person, and often miss a substantial number of important details.

Tuesday we’ll try and put all that together, and then sort out the going up and down once airborne, and for me the climbing on the back wall. Today, Monday is a day off and one of those stupid religious holidays where everything is shut, completely negating the point of having a Monday off. After rehearsal yesterday, we (Dasniya, Jorgos, Bonnie, and I) went for gelati, and after a quick stop at home (a mere 7 minutes dawdle from the theatre), Dasniya and I tried to get somewhat lost in the city. It’s not so easy as there is the former city wall as a circumference for any wanderings, but within … now I’ve finished breakfast, I shall be a tourist.

Parsifal Bologna – 5: Dasniya & ropes in rehearsal studio
Parsifal Bologna – 5: Dasniya & ropes in rehearsal studio
Parsifal Bologna – 6: Onstage chair suspension
Parsifal Bologna – 6: Onstage chair suspension
Parsifal Bologna – 7: … Me. Now. Tied
Parsifal Bologna – 7: … Me. Now. Tied
Parsifal Bologna – 8: part of a Bologna church
Parsifal Bologna – 8: part of a Bologna church
Parsifal Bologna – 9: The moustached Signor Dasniya
Parsifal Bologna – 9: The moustached Signor Dasniya