L’Amour de Loin: part 1

July 1, 2009

Part one – LBH (Lilian Baylis House)

L'Amour de loin

A fly on the wall…

Pressing the buzzer of Lilian Baylis House, home to English National Opera’s rehearsal space and I find myself almost nervous!  A quick reassuring chat to the lovely Odette on the door, and I plunge in to the rabbit run style corridors looking for ‘Rosie’ and ‘Elaine’ – no more information as yet as to appearance of either, but I am confident I shall find them, or bump into them through sheer luck… here’s hoping…

I soon find Stage Manager Rosie who is busily getting bits ready for the rehearsal which is about to start in 5 minutes.  She warmly welcomes me and directs me to a chair stage right to watch the action unfold.  And unfold it does as people start to emerge from the lunch break.  I watch as a man gets what seems like a pair of giant wings strapped to his arms, and closer still another amuses himself by juggling several plastic fish.  Is this part of the show?  I sincerely hope so!

Roderick Williams.  What a star.  I like him a hundred per cent already.  He seems to glow warmth, musicality and talent.  His voice radiates from his body, completely natural on stage, expressive, true and utterly believable in character.  I sit and listen transfixed by him, and smile occasionally when he forgets his words and makes a joke. 

Ed Gardner conducts from the centre as Director Daniele Finzi Pasca sits nearby occasionally jumping up to direct, moving people about and talking to the singers and dancers.  Daniele is full of smiles and charisma and you cannot help but like him.  Ed conducts the pianist with the same gusto and magic as he would the orchestra, singing an occasional duet with the pianist as they fill in the chorus lines.

In the break, I introduce myself to Elaine, Staff Director.  She says this way of rehearsing is quite ‘bitty’.  Rehearsals are usually much more singing and music focused, but at the moment some people are doing costume, some are doing shadow puppetry, some are sorting lighting and others doing choreography. 

All the little bits however, I am finding really interesting.  The singing is stunning, the costume is taking shape and the dancers are compelling in the way they are moving about with silk, wings and bits of costume.  I am also happy to find how jolly the atmosphere is; it seems it is not all work as someone cracks a joke or another prances about the stage at a wrong note.  Or perhaps this is work; a fun, hardworking environment… I can’t wait to see more!

By India Bourne, ENO Baylis Assistant Producer

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