I am always much happier at opera rehearsals when we have voices. Things just make more sense then. And I love the singers and their wonderful voices! So what fun it was to hear one of the two casts today. I couldn’t hear them very well, mind you, but I could hear them a wee bit. I suspect they don’t sing out quite as much at the sitzprobe; seems as if I can hear them better when we get to performances. I’ve often wondered — are they singing softer to save their voices, or to cause us to have to play softer? We are constantly told we are playing too loudly. Much of the time I am playing pianissimo … really! So I just play soft, soft, soft until I have a little bit of a solo. Then I get to play perhaps mezzo forte. Woo hoo! I never really play forte (except when it’s just the orchestra, of course). I never use a loud reed, either. Much of the time I use dead reeds. Then I’m close to soft enough!

In other news…
I have been cheered up by some of my colleagues. A couple of them borrowed the CD of the UCSC faculty recital. The think I’m nuts for saying I was awful. And they aren’t the sort to lie to me. So I guess I am just going to accept their kind words, as well as my husband’s, and realize that I’m a wee bit harsh on myself.

Ya think?


  1. My suspicion is that they’re just saving their voices. The whole sitzprobe-tech process is very long, with only one day off before opening (well, unless you’re a double-cast principal, but of course they have so much more to sing). And maybe with a little bit of listening to the orchestra thrown in. It makes such a huge difference to hear the orchestra after weeks of rehearsal with just piano, sometimes I get caught up in what they’re playing.

  2. I’m guessing you are right, Mike. I DO know, though, that some of the (somewhat more famous and sometimes notoriously difficult) singers who used to come solo with SJ Symphony miraculously had a voice twice as big at the concerts … and during rehearsals they were rather unkind to the orchestra, telling us we were far too loud. I finally caught on to that game and just dealt.

    I do get tired of having to play at such a soft volume. I’ve taken to muting my oboe (yes, we do that) just so I don’t have to “suck it up” all the time … the mute allows me to put the required air through the horn without being too loud.

  3. I think it is saving their voices, yeah, and also maybe (at least for school groups, etc) that they don’t think of how the instrumentalists haven’t been in rehearsal with them for months and thus a) maybe don’t know what the vocal line is supposed to sound like, and b)really want to hear them singing. I feel like the singers with whom I play in pits tend to save their energy for rehearsals with the cast, and don’t realize that we (I) really want to hear them sing. This is especially true in rehearsals which are “for the pit” rather than for the singers.

  4. I wish I could “save my reed” by just not playing sometimes. 😉

    I’ve heard the two casts now. Sounds nice! Now we just have to convince someone to skip the perfume. Sigh. (I thought singers never did perfume. Guess I was wrong!)