Sunday, April 18, 2010

A lady on a lake

Greetings from relatively ash-free Geneva where Spring is definitely making its welcome presence known.


We seem to be one of the few European cities escaping some of DFGHVZYPYJKIWSKJAIA's fury for the moment. (Is that the correct spelling of the Icelandic volcano? It must be close!) What a nightmare this has turned out to be for so many travelers and fellow artists and family members! Mother Nature truly marches to her own rhythm, and I suppose in the end, there is no point in trying to argue with her. (How tempting to break into a Copland/Dickinson tribute at this moment! "Nature, the gentlest mother" - HA!) Hard not to get too down with all the natural disasters that seem to be sweeping the globe these days, and my heart flies out to all those suffering from the horrors of the earthquakes and this latest hardship. Sometimes it's a bit puzzling to reconcile all that suffering with what I do, but I've learned over the years (and with many thanks to all your comments and observations) that music, is in fact, vitally, profoundly necessary and relevant to the human spirit. So I'll keep singing whilst I's the small contributions that add up over time, right?

Changing the subject: I'm loving the fact that I'm debuting my next role living 2 blocks from a huge lake!

The Lady of the Lake

The serendipity of it makes me smile. I'm always cautious about trying to predict how a new role will actually materialize by opening night, and doubly cautious to predict how a new production will be received - I can't really spend too much energy in prediction-ville, because one simply never knows. My job is to delve into something with all the conviction, examination and preparation I can and let the audience draw its own conclusions.

But I would like to say that I'm beyond excited about adding this new belcanto role to my repertoire. I fall more in love with her with each day, and find the score coming to life in a way that I didn't expect (and we don't even have the orchestra, yet!) Even I, who adore and celebrate Rossini, sometimes fall into the "yes, but it's not Verdi" trap. Shame on me! This score is full of imagination, surprising colors, heartfelt emotion and true theatrical tension. Even though it preceeded them, it feels like another world entirely from Barbiere or Cenerentola, which impresses me even more, knowing these scores all came from one young mind.

The past

It's a slightly tricky opera to put onto the stage - ok, perhaps I'm being generous! Not that I MIND being the objective of so many people's desire, but it does pose a few problems for an audience that may be looking to find some modern application to their lives. (Not that opera always needs to serve that purpose, mind you. In fact, I think it is the escapism that often appeals to people and grabs their hearts!) But I understand the quest for comprehensive story telling and am happy to join in the adventure.

Our director, Christof Loy, just may be on to something here. I can't quite see the whole picture yet, but I can tell you that I'm terrifically challenged by the story he is asking me to help tell. (As I was telling a friend about this, his reaction was, "What! Isn't the music challenging enough?!?!) He has delved deeply into Rossini's compelling music and into the psychology of these characters, bringing us along for the ride, and has found something I'm finding to be quite compelling.

Il cuore

He is one of these directors that doesn't let me get away with my first instinct. DAMN! I feel like I have a very instinctual stage presence - or at least, I'm not afraid to show the director something strong on the first attempt at a scene. I find that most directors seem more than happy to be given something, so they say, "fine" before asking themselves if that was indeed the best choice. Instead, Christof (like a few other of my favorite directors) sees something more, and asks much more of me as an actress. It's not always the easy solution, and can easily be a source of frustration for me, ("why aren't I getting it??") but in the end, I think I end up with something much more complex and intriguing. I'm starting to find that with this role, which could easily fall into a "victim" persona, and again, I'm grateful for the challenge to find something special in this girl.


Today I had a few hours to wander around the lake and soak up some of the welcome sunshine, and enjoyed having the bevy of swans preen and pose and prance for me and my lonely camera! With all the things going on over the past 2 months my camera has gotten rusty and lonely. I was so happy to reacquaint myself with her, and we had a fabulous time taking in some of the spring sites. The light was fabulous, and the fresh air was a gift.

Water Dancing

Happily, I can report that my ankle is doing wonderfully well. I have a great Physio here who says that things look better than normal and that the healing is going wonderfully. I ditched my crutches a few days ago, and being able to walk (with the help of my trusty walking cast) feels AMAZING. It's like freedom has returned! I've been rehearsing slowly and easily, but it really feels good and seems as if my cast won't be too much of a distraction for the performances. (Yep, I'll be in a cast for the shows. I suppose after the wheelchair and now the cast, when I'm 85 and using a walker as Rosina, it will just complete the circle!)

I appreciate greatly everyone's support and respect for not posing too many questions ... somehow it seems to keep the pressure at a distance! In the meantime, I'll share my favorite photo of the day:

Light as a Feather

Back to the lake, now...


Emma said...

As soon as I heard about the volcanic "cloud" delaying flights to Europe, I immediately thought of you Joyce. You're just always traveling! (and so many other singers are too.)

Thats great that you thought of "nature the gentlest mother." I love those songs so much!
And if you did consider doing those you must also sing "The World feels ashy" (ha ha ha)


enecabe said...

Hekla - Jón Leifs

Raisa said...

Dear Joyce:
Thank you for the Lady on a Lake update, as well as the most wonderful pictures of the swans. Absolutely love the classic heart one and the parallel swim-away!
So glad to hear that those crutches are ditched for good.
Looking forward to more updates about your new exciting role.

An Englishwoman abroad said...

I think the volcano spelling was spot on - it made me laugh (despite my probably being unable to fly home next week in my only non-performance time for a while to visit my convalescent father...)

Some exquisite photos there - thanks for having fished your camera out!

And as always, fascinating to hear your view of the rehearsal process. Thank you!

Mei said...

I'm glad finally you don't need your crutches...

I hope at the end of the week the cloud has vanished and let your fans fly to Geneva with no worries...

See you at the Léman...!

David said...

Fascinating - but you didn't say what role; I guess your fans know, and is it - gathering from the above comment - Donna del Lago?

Irishrover said...

I'm crossing my fingers for this damn volcano to calm down in the days to come! I've got so many friends stuck around the world, I hope they'll soon be back home. But the amazing thing is that even facing adversity, they made some incredible frienships with people in the same situation... Every cloud has a silver lining, even this one!

Amazing pictures of beautiful swans! They remind me of a poem written by Yeats, "The Wild Swan at Coole", hauntingly beautiful and very moving, about the fragility and the transience of the human race.

Glad you're having a ball with Elena! Looking forward to seeing you in this role -hope the volcano will let me go to Geneva!

Take care :)

Alixkovich said...

Heyy! it's nice to have some news from you! You're lucky Geneva is "ash free"....for now :P
Most of us don't believe in the end of the world in 2012 (me included), but we still haven't reached the half of this year and there have already been plenty of natural disasters...
Maybe the movie should have been called 2010 xD

Wolfgang said...

Glad you clarified the spelling of the vulcano for me! That's precisely how I felt about it when I nearly got stranded travelling on Friday.

Enjoyed your post about LDDL, and absolutely LOVE the pictures !

Ann said...

Hurrah for ankle progress and MAJOR hurrah for the absolutely LOVELY photos of the swans, aren't they an absolutely elegant creature? You've managed to capture them even more elegantly.

Glad to hear all news is good - can't wait for more pictures!!

coolfreeze said...

absolutely wonderful photos! thanks for this lovely blogpost.

The Marschallin said...

The pics are lovely- you haven't lost your touch, even with the respite. Thank you for sharing them with us. What color is your cast? Is it co-ordinated to your costumes this time too?!

mamascarlatti said...

Say hello to Lac Leman for me - that's where I grew up. It's a lovely time of the year there. If you have a chance take a steamer across the lake and visit Yvoire on the French side - a beautiful medieval village. Or take the train to Montreux and the mountain train up to the Rochers to Naye - stunning views.

Dr.B said...

Nice pictures. Nice post. I'm glad to see you getting more into serious Rossini because it's my favorite. Or maybe because it's the best. Choose one.

smurashige said...

As always, thanks for the update and the beautiful photos! I think music and opera are even more relevant now for us in our modern predicament. We live lives that are so fragmented; we're often so distant from each other. Music always reminds me that to be human is to be richly connected with others, just as you must connect and respond to and with others during a performance. Music can remind us, at least for a moment, what it really means to be alive. Thanks!

Gi said...

I didn't see any ash either (was in Poland for a mini-break) but apparently some people did and my flights were cancelled. It wasn't too bad though, compared to other travelers' tales.
Anyway, the volcano's name: someone called it Eyjcut&paste which seems quite right to me, what do you think? ;-)

Mike said...

Headed for Geneva from JFK in an hour or so for a business meeting on Monday. What a wonderful surprise to find La Donna Del Lago with the inimitable Yankee Diva scheduled for Sunday evening. I can't wait to see you in your element.

I was in London last summer and saw your Barbiere on wheels. Hoping for more of a traditional biped performance this time.