Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"Let 'er roll"

Well, without a doubt, last night was one of the most memorable, exciting nights in my life. I suppose that makes two in a row for me.

I arrived at the theater around 4:30 and was introduced to my new co-star: a beautiful, sleek "Moonlite Breezy Wheelchair". (Their motto is apparently "Innovate: build for the future". Well, innovation was certainly the name of the game last night. (Hey, I wonder if they need a spokesperson!! CALL ME!) The game plan when I arrived, was to have a member of the directing team push me through the show (thanks for volunteering, Tom!) But the moment I sat in the chair, I felt oddly at home and found that I was actually rather dexterous on the four wheels - and as a result, HUGELY relieved, because the idea of Rosina being DEPENDENT on someone to push her around was something I couldn't wrap my head around.


I got 30 minutes on stage to feel my way around, try a few things out, observe the safety barrier the BRILLIANT ROH team installed at the front of the stage - presuming they preferred their lead singer not to also injure her spine!!! - and to devise a general game plan with the directing team of how to play the big moments, and how to adjust to the impossible. For example, under "normal" circumstances, when Rosina believes she has been betrayed, a storm wells up in her and she completely trashes the set. Well, at this point, it's not only a matter of dramatic choice, but it's a technical necessity for various bits of action that must happen, so we had to find a solution. Last night, Rosina called in Berta (the maid) and in a show of feminine unity, I "conducted" Berta through the trashing of the set! Innovation at work.


I can't begin to describe how sorry I am for my "cast mates" to put them in the position of having to improvise on the spot like that, but I can only send out an enormous THANK YOU to each of them, for their support, for their sheer brilliance, and for their willingness to enter into the theatricality of it all. For me, I can only say that I had a ball. Is that insane? The odd thing about this, is that in a big way, being "trapped" in this wheelchair was a quite literal way of demonstrating Rosina's frustration and HUGE desire to break free. I certainly felt it more last night than I ever have before, and think I found ways to still convey the character and to "act" the part.

As was my intention last night, I hope to continue to perform, but whether it's vertical and on my feet or seated and on wheels remains to be seen - day by day is the current order of business. Again, I certainly don't want to compromise the integrity of the show in any way, but I did feel that last night we still told the story and made beautiful music. As long as that continues, I'm game!!!

I'll probably spend the rest of my life thanking people for their help through this - from the AMAZING fans and supporters, to all my friends and family, to the ridiculously brilliant Opera House Staff, to my manager who has gone WAY above and beyond the call of duty, but most of all to my (sigh) astoundingly wonderful husband. He's got a million things going on himself in these days, and yet he is still treating me with the most delicate of satin gloves, supporting me beyond measure and continuing to make me laugh. Ah, see? It's all good!

26 comments:

Jakob said...

You are simply INCREDIBLE!!!!! The diva on wheels!! Ready for Guiness???

Dolcevita said...

YAY! So we'll see our preferred Rosina Friday.

Huge kudos to your costars!

Ma che bella copia siete! :)

Cheers

Alixkovich said...

Hum....Nice Plaster!

Operafan said...

Stunning !!! Crazy pics!! "Prompt rétablissement" and all best from Paris... we miss you!!:-)

Kenderina said...

These are fantastic news ! I never doubt you will do it (you all will do it !)even when a press agency here in Spain published that you were going to sing offstage.

See you on Friday, don't go away too quickly from the theatre with that super wheelchair or I won't be able to catch you with my not so modern crutch ! :)

Jacob's grandmom said...

Dear Joyce,

You were already a legendary Rosina--now the ROH production can join the mythic tales of the first performance in 1816. Reading your blog about the rehearsing and performing experiences gives this editor great joy. Wishing you a complete recovery,
Patricia Brauner

Erin said...

So happy it went well and that you enjoyed yourself! Can't wait to hear about the rest of the run.

Suzanne said...

The pink cast matches your petticoat, I love it! And I agree with Jakob, you are incredible! But you already knew that!

Sibyl said...

The Divine Miss D! Thank you so much for sharing the sheer, inimitable thrill of creative [somewhat rehearsed] improvisation.

Ann said...

Absolutely brilliant. I expected no less. I wish I could see you conquering this onstage!

Mandolin Vision said...

Opera lives thanks to people like you, who sing no matter what!
Viva la opera!

Squillo said...

Tremendous, and kudos to all your "enablers."

It strikes me that this may be a boon to disabled performers, too--an example of how a disability can not only be accommodated in performance, but, under the right circumstances and with the right people, can actually spur creativity.

Matthew said...

Thank you for posting this story for those of us that could only wish to see your amazing innovations on the stage last night. You are a remarkable performer and true theater artist.

Mei said...

So you do get a new perspective of Rosina to work with... ;-)

I'm thrilled... See you tomorrow...

lianne said...

Wow Joyce! this is absolutely incredible, and as for the 1st comment, I completely agree...
Guinness Book of Records here you come :)

I hope the rest of the runs (wheels) go as well as the last one!

Hariclea said...

I'm soooo glad you can have fun in these circumstances :-) It's all downhill from here ;-))) And you are a very lucky lady, love the picture. Do you know what i was thinking before the concert with Pappano, Calleja, Hampson, Vasko? What i would really really really love to hear you sing again is Somehere over the rainbow and... the Man in love :-) I got 50% of my wish!!! :-) I'll be lopoking forward to hearing the other 50% sometimes :-) Counting down the hours until tomorrow... tic, toc, tic, toc...

Phenix 7.7.7. said...

Your love of life is miraculous and so your love of music the same. Permit me a wish : I'll like you make a DVD with these representation of Barbiere with your rolling chair.

Nice picture with your husband ! It's so important to have some one for said us "I love you" because it's same that "you be". Especially in difficult hours.

Thank you for all.

John Kenneth Adams said...

JOYCE, ...and to think I almost wrote "bxxxx-a-xxx" last week from USA.Never again I promise! Imagine my surprise when you "wheeled out". !!! Most important thing is safe recovery..take care as I know you will. John Adams

Susan said...

I can't say it enough - you are an inspiration!

steve49w said...

Y'know Joyce, apropos your recital at the Rose Theater and this episode, maybe you should consider a helmet once you are on your feet....Just joshin'.

Leo is a obviously a great husband and an example to all of us men, or so my wife tells me...

Only you could make this accident work out in the way that it has. And I think that all of the baseball players on DL should take your situation as an example!

drummer-rich said...

Wow. Thanks Joyce for an amazing night. Tuesday was one of the moset exciting nights I've had at Covent Garden for ages. Congratulations to yourself and the rest of the amazing cast for an incredible musical performance as was expected but for also making the staging still work, the fact that you were in a wheelchair for the night never once detracted from the staging or the storytelling, a credit to you all for being so professional. Once again well done, and hope to see you back at Covent Garden again soon. Looking forward to the big screen broadcasts next week as well.

helenwerder said...

Saw the news article about "breakin' a leg"....
Will comment more later.

Helen Werder
PV KS

Arthur said...

Hi Joyce,

I was at the ROH last night and Ijust wanted to say thank you so much for continuing to perform, when I'm sure most others would have thrown the towel in. Your performance was unbelievable as was the show. I'm not sure I've ever heard a better sung or played Barbiere in my life, and it was honestly the most fun I've ever had at the opera! I really hope you're up and about very soon, and that you are able to continue performing in this run - it wouldn't have been half as good as it was without you!

p.s. Loved the way you matched the colour of your cast to your petticoats and shoes!

Andrew said...

I saw the show last night, and was just blown away with your performance (and the whole show) - it was just extraordinary!!
It was simply a magical night in the theatre - thank-you so much!!

Alberto Velez Grilo said...

Dear Joyce

You are a force of nature.

mjw4849 said...

Hi Joyce,
Just a quick one. Thanks for spending 10 minutes last night after the rehearsal saying hello to people and it was really nice to meet you. Like so many of my friends who've seen this run of Il Barbiere, we're so grateful that you've continued in the face of adversity - you, along with the entire cast were marvelous, so thanks again :)

P.s. Could you give a few lessons in turning up to AG who was meant to be singing Tosca tonight, but was 'unwell', please? ;) x