Monday, April 1, 2013

The Memory Stone (Week 2: April 1)

Today was an extraordinary day for many reasons. First, our two soloists arrived and attended rehearsals for the first time; Shakuhachi performer David Kansuke Wheeler and koto performer Yumi Kurosawa. Although they were only observing staging rehearsals, it was exciting for me to imagine what the music will sound like when performed on the instruments I actually wrote it for. Under Matthew's charismatic leadership, we ran large sections of the opera without stopping, and simply fine tuned minute details here and there. I was so impressed by the movement choreagraphy that Matthew came up with for Rei's first aria, "Now I dance the mountains..." and even more impressed by how elegantly Ji Hyun was able to execute complicated movements while singing memorized text/lines in a foreign language. I can't quite explain why, but scene 4 literally drive me to tears. The combination of the voices and the intensity of the music combined with the dramatic content and extraordinary staging left me breathless. As tears came streaming down my cheeks and I grabbed some tissues to hide them, I looked over to see that Kenny was crying too! I can't imagine what will happen when we run it with the two soloists and our string quartet.
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Nina Yoshida Nelsen as The Woman, opening aria: "The day after..."
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Ji Hyun Jang as Rei, singing "Now I dance the mountains..."
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Shakuhachi performer David Wheeler observing staging rehearsals
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21-string koto performer Yumi Kurosawa studying her part
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Our four singers: (l to r) Ji Hyun Jang, Takaoki Onishi, Nina Yoshida Nelsen, and Mihoko Kinoshita

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