Prompt Corner - Festival 2014

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Sophie Leach is a Deputy Stage Manager at Glyndebourne and she is back to blog for us in the 80th Anniversary season!

If you’d like to keep up with backstage news and interesting goings on during rehearsals, and between blogs, there is now a prompt corner twitter feed from Sophie.
Follow @GFOPromptDesk

Prompt Corner Blog: 24th May

Well, it’s been a busy and strange eight weeks since my last blog.

We are all still shocked at the loss of Sir George, such a wonderful man with his sparkling eyes and cheeky grin, he will be very much missed by all of us. Even after his retirement, he always made a point of visiting us on stage before a show, and his casual order of“be good!“really kept us on our toes. Some of you who attended the premiere of Der Rosenkavalier may have noticed that everyone wore red socks during the curtain calls. Sir George was famous for wearing red socks, and we all decided that it would be a lovely tribute to him.

Now that Rosenkavalier has opened, my next show, La finta giardiniera has started rehearsing.

The process of putting together a show can differ vastly from production to production depending on, well, so many factors, I can’t really list them all! Rosenkav is a piece I know particularly well, but I know absolutely nothing about finta , so it’s going to be fun over the next couple of months learning all about it.

We have a flow chart in rehearsals of whom each character is in love with/hates/wants to kill/has already stabbed/has reconciled with. Thank goodness there are only seven of them, it can get very complicated, so make sure you read the synopsis before you come!

One of the many perks of working here, are the open Final Rehearsals, more commonly known as Generals in the rest of the opera world. I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Onegin dress, and was thrilled and proud to see friends and colleagues giving such a fantastic performance of one of the best shows in our repertoire. Even though it is 20 years old, it never seems to age.

It’s the third performance of Rosenkavalier this afternoon, so I shall have to clear my head of teenage Mozart during lunch and get into my Strauss groove! The cueing in Rosenkav gets progressively more complicated throughout each act, until it reaches a peak twenty minutes in to Act 3. The act begins with a pantomime when the intriguer Valzacchi shows first a’rentacrowd’then Baron Ochs the workings of a certain room in a less than salubrious hotel.

What the audience can’t see is the 20 piece orchestra including piano and harmonium that is in the Prompt Side wing just behind me. They aren’t playing very loudly, but it means that I can’t hear anything coming from the pit orchestra, or much of the singers either. Because of this, I have a special set of ‘cans’ or headphones that lets me slightly block out the offstage band, and have my own personal mix of stage and pit. The orchestration is this section is very complex and I have to be extremely focused and can’t relax until the main chorus entrance happens. So far, I always seem to be going home after the show with a concentration headache!

The next couple of weeks will be taken up with the filming and live relay of Rosenkavalier , so until then, can anyone guess what this is?

(Reply to @GFOPromptDeskwith your suggestions…)

Prompt Corner Blog: 24th MarchWelcome back everyone!

This is going to be a great season, not only is it our 80th Anniversary, and the 20th Anniversary of being in the ‘new’ opera house, it is also the first chance I’ve had to work on Der Rosenkavalier, an opera that has been an obsession of mine since I was about 18.

Firstly, I should say a few words about our trip to the Brooklyn Academy of Music with Billy Budd a few weeks ago.

What an amazing time! Although it has been (and is still!) the worst winter NYC has experienced in about 20 years, we embraced the polar vortex and HMS Indomitable took it by storm.

After coming into work in early January to see the set, props and costumes off in their containers togo on board a cargo ship, we had a short but intense rehearsal period in the Jerwood studio. Normally, we would rehearse on a set, but as it was then mid-Atlantic, we had to use a mark out.This is a two-dimensional outline of the set, and, for those of you that have seen Billy Budd ,requires a good dose of imagination!Luckily, almost all of the company had done the show before, so everyone took it in their stride.

!! Testing the chilled smoke for the battle scene.p. Arriving in Brooklyn a few days before the main company, the technical and production teams were met with the warmest welcome from the team at BAM, and the coldest winds you could imagine! We had a couple of days fitting up the set, relighting the show and rehearsing the technical elements, such as the movement of the ship truck, chilled smoke, canon fire and the flying of the cabin and ceiling pieces.

I won’t go into American theatrical union rules and regulations, but suffice it to say, it was a very fast and steep learning experience for people who hadn’t been there before!

It wasn’t all work though, we did manage to have some tourist time too, including a full on backstage tour of our opera cousins The Met. It was exhausting!

The shows were an amazing success, the audiences loved it, and even the New York Times gave us rave reviews! It was a shame that we only had four performances, as by the time you finish, you are just starting to feel settled.

New York saw us off in style with another massive snow storm and after that, it was back to flooded and windy Britain, and a few weeks off.

So, time now for a new term, clean prompt copies, new pencils, new shows and a whole lot of new names and faces to learn.

About Sophie

Sophie was born in Liverpool, and studied Stage Management specialising in Opera at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Recent shows as a DSM at Glyndebourne include; Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Rinaldo, Turn of the Screw, Billy Budd, Giulio Cesare, Tristan und Isolde, and Hänsel und Gretel, to name but a few!

When she is not at the prompt desk, she is usually to be found throwing herself down a mountain on a snowboard, cycling around the South Downs, or at the beach.

Sophie joined Glyndebourne as an Assistant Stage Manager in September 2000.