SEVEN VELVET SUITS: Rehearsals at BasicSpace16

This week, I’m travelling from the American Midwest of Dust Child to the Parisian suburbs of Seven Velvet Suits. Performed by Andre Flynn (actor), Piran Legg (baritone) and myself (piano), workshOPERA premières my new song cycle with a difference.

I must say, this show may well be one of the most genuinely collaborative experiences I’ve ever had. The majority of professional engagements I’ve had so far have been fairly high-octane, at least as far as creative timescale and rehearsal period are concerned. This project has, admittedly, fallen directly after finishing work on English Touring Opera’s Dust Child. For the director-librettist Anna Pool, designer Anna Driftmier and composer (me), there really has been no chance to collectively catch our breaths.

Seven Velvet Suits takes the form of a play underpinned by a song cycle. We went into rehearsal last Monday and the process has been a consistently fluid affair, to date. For starters, there are only five artists which allows for a more collaborative environment in which to devise big swathes of the piece. Simply put, the size of the team has allowed for a superlative quality of communication, which renders the task of creating a new show far easier and far more enjoyable.

Today, we have a final dress rehearsal in which to iron out any technical issues and prepare for our official evening preview. On a pivotal day such as this it’s easy to get a tad twitchy, especially when the show has been brought to life over a miraculously short span of time. A little nervous energy is all well and good, but the moment one panics about every potential production pitfall, the focus can become lost… and then mistakes happen. Over such a short run of performances, the second challenge we face is maintaining consistency from the get-go, since there is no allowance for ‘getting into the rhythm of things’. This morning, however, none of these things are bothering me: I’m just eager to get our first audience through the door.

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