Edgaras Montvidas on being Belmonte – part three

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The anatomy of an opening night

The opening night of any production is always an exciting occasion, but there’s something truly special about launching a new production at Glyndebourne.

Photo: Richard Hubert Smith

The many unofficial openings of an opera

In reality it’s been a succession of opening nights for Die Entführung aus dem Serail. First we had the ‘pre-general’ rehearsal, on 8 June, and then the general dress rehearsal, on 10 June.

These final rehearsals are like unofficial opening nights, with friends, family, and people from the music industry coming along. I said a little about what it’s like to perform in front an audience for the first time in my last post.

Nothing, however, rivals the rush of adrenaline on the official launch night. Psychologically, of course, it’s the climax of six weeks’ preparation.

The first night audience

Finally the date arrived on 13 June, and the opening night audience was fantastic. There was so much energy and we could really feel their reaction, whether laughter or applause.

My mother was there too. It was her first time at Glyndebourne and she absolutely loved the quintessential British experience with the picnic and gardens! I always appreciate having the support of my family and friends at performances, especially for opening night when there’s heightened pressure.

Photo: Richard Hubert Smith

The critics factor

An opening night is also a press night, although that doesn’t make my performance better or worse…

I think each performer has their own philosophy on how to take criticism. Personally, I find I’m my own strictest critic – I know exactly what went right or wrong. Besides, we have a very professional team working with us and I trust them.

What we really do in the long interval

People often ask me what the performers do during the long interval while the audience are enjoying their picnics.

Surprisingly, the hour and 20 minutes goes very quickly for us! By the time I’ve got out of costume, taken my wig off, taken it back to the wig department, and eaten some food, I only have about half an hour before it’s time to put it all on again.

I never go outside during the interval. I usually read a book or relax before the last half an hour, which is spent getting back in costume and having make-up touch-ups and so on.

No special rituals take place in my dressing room :)

Photo: Richard Hubert Smith

The celebrations commence

I always enjoy the reception after an opening night. It’s not only important, but also fascinating to meet the audience.

I also take the time to thank the sponsors for the opportunity and express my gratitude. Glyndebourne is financially independent and receives no public subsidy for the Festival, so it’s thanks to them that we have the chance to perform here.

We’re all constantly aware of the financial situation with the arts and without sponsorship of some kind it becomes impossible to keep art forms going.

Celebrating with the cast was great fun – we all congratulated each other on a successful first night. After such a long run-up to the 13 June it’s important for us to be able to say we’ve done it!

Once the partying is over, it’s back to the professional preparation for performance two, three, and so on.

Photo: Audience member

After the opening night

Now it’s crucial to keep up the energy levels and the quality of the performances for the rest of the run – we have many more performances, plus our BBC Prom concert performance on 14 August, and the audience deserves a good show each night.

I’m thoroughly enjoying the performances every few nights. It’s always such a pleasure to be up on the Glyndebourne stage in front of a packed audience. The magic of theatre is that it’s live, and every performance is different – it never gets boring!

There are more exciting, magical nights ahead and I’m looking forward to experiencing all of them – not to mention our grand finish at the BBC Proms.

Edgaras Montvidas

This is the third in a series of five blogposts by Edgaras Montvidas about his experience of the life of a production at Glyndebourne. The next blogpost will be published early next month. For more details about Die Entführung aus dem Serail and the other productions at Festival 2015 visit the season overview page.