[The next group of posts were written after the premiere of the opera.]
Opera director and friend Peter Kazaras insisted that I meet with the singers as early as possible. As our performance was a combination of students and faculty it is especially important to have that early meeting. Peter explained that singers internalize their music, becoming a kind of muscle memory. It’s easy to make note changes for instrumentalists: “Clarinet, that is a B flat in measure 47” and they change the note. Singers have to change a lot more making that change, it has to become part of their musculature, their muscle memory. So seven weeks before the premiere, conductor Scott Dunn and I flew to Mazatlán to meet with the soloists and the chorus.
I made changes to the vocal parts throughout the rehearsals, some permanent and some adjusted to the voice on the part. There were occasional textual adjustments where the wrong syllable was on the wrong beat which required a little rhythmic offsetting. I also decided to add choral parts to one aria and at the very end of the opera. This was tricky business but they all learned their new parts by the premiere.
I was blessed to have Raúl Rico as the producer and godfather behind the project. The opera would never have happened had he not believed in the work. His work as the director of Cultura/Mazatlan is terrific, besides the fact that my opera was a part of his season. The publicity for the opera was amazing. There were posters all over town, and even in the customs area as you arrive into the airport had large posters. We heard that there were radio spots all over Mexico about the opera. Raúl called a press conference the week Scott and I were there, and we were happy to attend a room full of reporters and photographers. I told Raúl that my Spanish was not yet ready for the press conference as I hadn’t yet learned past or future, to which Raúl responded: “Perfect!” He nonetheless served as my faithful translator. Scott’s Spanish is better than mine so he fielded some questions in Spanish.