Types of rehearsals
Types of opera rehearsals
1- Music rehearsal
Each of the six types of rehearsal has particular features, and is part of the ritual of producing an opera.
2- Staging rehearsal
3- Technical rehearsal
4- Sitting rehearsal (sitzprobe)
5- Orchestra staging rehearsal
6- Dress rehearsal
Music rehearsals take place in the rehearsal room.
These are the first rehearsals in the process leading up to an opera performance. They focus on the music for the opera.
All the soloists and chorus members are present, along with the musical director or conductor, who is part of the process from the beginning.
The music rehearsals are accompanied on the piano; the orchestra is not involved.
Staging rehearsal in the rehearsal room
Staging rehearsals also take place in the rehearsal room.
The staging rehearsals are held right after the music rehearsals, to practise the stage movements that will act as a counterpoint to the music that has just been rehearsed.
This is when the director takes over. The conductor is present, but the director is in charge. The cast members rehearse all the movements and gestures for the opera. The work is creative, since the movements help define the characters, but often mechanical and repetitive.
The stage and scenery are blocked out on the floor using coloured tape.
The opera is rehearsed on stage for the first time, with costumes and scenery, with a piano accompaniment.
This is the last rehearsal before the arrival of the orchestra, and it focuses mainly on technical and staging aspects.
The soloists wear their costumes for the first time, but not make-up. In many cases, the soloists "mark" their parts, in other words sing them softly, or at a lower octave, to protect their voices.
Sitting rehearsal (sitzprobe)
The sitting rehearsal is when the singers and the orchestra perform together for the first time.
The soloists and chorus are on stage, and the orchestra is in the pit. The singers do not wear costume, and generally sit in the same place, although they sometimes move around the stage to get a feeling for their own spatial position relative to the scenery and the conductor in the orchestra pit.
It is important to run through the entire opera at this rehearsal. The singers sing at full volume so that the musical balance can be heard for the first time.
Orchestra staging rehearsal
At the orchestra staging rehearsal, all the elements of the opera are brought together for the first time. The orchestra and conductor are in the pit, and the soloists, chorus and extras are on stage, with full scenery, lighting, props, make-up and costumes.
As this is the first time that everything has been seen together, the rehearsal is one of the most complex and difficult.
The inter-relations between the various elements can now be observed; the singers mark their parts to save their voice.
The dress rehearsal is probably the most stressful moment before Opening Night. It is the final rehearsal before the first performance, and in fact the only thing missing is the audience.
However, there is still time to make some final adjustments and polish the finished product.
Everything is performed as if for an actual performance of the opera.