So, there are only a couple more weeks until the Ring opens, and I think I’m almost ready!

Today, I met Star, who plays the horse in Götterdämmerung, the last opera in the Ring cycle. Turns out, there was another horse who had previously performed in multiple Ring cycles for Seattle Opera, but this is Star’s first one! She’s never performed in an opera before. Today was her first time onstage at McCaw Hall, and she seemed to be handling it pretty well! Apparently, Corliss, the horse's owner has been playing music from the Ring in the barn, so Star has gotten used to it by now! I watched once first, as Corliss walked Star up the backstage ramp and onto the set of Brünhilde's ledge. Then, the second time, I got to walk ahead of Corliss and Star on the set! Star got a little uneasy around the Reel Grrls’ boom microphone (she thought it was a snake!), but, for the most part, she seemed to be getting used to the spotlight! But I could tell she was a tad nervous, because she left some horse poop on the stage!

I took a few pictures from offstage with my phone:
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Then I met with Jonathan Dean, Education Artistic Administrator, who told me all I needed to know about the Ring! He told me all about the main characters, and how everything I’ve seen and learned about so far in the “Confessions” project all fits together to create four epic operas! I also learned that it took Wagner 25 years to write the Ring cycle – I haven’t even been alive that long! Hopefully I remember everything he told me by the time I see the show…!

Then I headed back to McCaw Hall, where the Ring orchestra was rehearsing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many musicians or musical instruments in one room before! The orchestra was rehearsing in a huge rehearsal space, and there were over a hundred musicians in there! I felt totally out of my element! Everyone in there seemed so focused, whether their job was to play a ton of notes, to follow along with the sheet music, or to take notes of what needed to be fixed. This was the first time I’d actually gotten to hear live orchestra music from the Ring, so it was really exciting for me! The music has so much depth to it – it’s almost overwhelming! I can’t believe Wagner actually wrote sixteen hours of intense music!

The next Ring activity I see from the Seattle Opera will be the final product – I’m so nervous and excited I can’t stand it! Wish me luck – I mean, hope I break a leg!
 
 

Today was another exciting day shooting “Confessions!”

First, I got to sit in on a rehearsal of the dragon, Fafner, at McCaw Hall. It was amazing to see Fafner in action – the dragon is huge! One of the crew members stood in for Siegfried and practiced fighting Fafner and stabbing his tail. At one point, Fafner’s head was being lowered down onto the set, and it kept moving for a little too long, and all the sudden, I heard a “creeeeak” – the tusk almost broke! Whoops…the crew fixed it promptly though!

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Above, the film crew shoots Fafner from the house
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here, they shot my reactions to seeing the dragon for the first time
Later, I met with Chuck Whitmore, who works with the supertitles and the images projected on stage. He even put my name into the computer and made my name come up as a supertitle! That was really exciting; I felt so honored! He also showed me some of the projections for the end of the Ring cycle, with fire and water. I only got to see it on a computer screen, so I’m really excited to get to see the large projections during the full performance!
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Then I went back to the Seattle Opera offices and rehearsal spaces, and met up with Luretta Bybee and Emma Grimsley, two artists in the Ring cycle. And they’re mother and daughter! Luretta plays the First Norn and a Valkyrie, and Emma plays the Woman in Black. But that’s not all of their opera family! The father of the family, Greer Grimsley, plays Wotan! I asked them what it’s like being an opera family, and if it’s common to have a whole family of opera singers. They said they’re pretty much the only one! I also talked to Emma about what it’s like being a younger person involved in opera – she’s still in high school! She said she tries to get her friends interested in opera, and to get them to come see her shows. In this picture, the Reel Grrls crew captures the interview; Luretta is sitting on the steps to the left, Emma is sitting to the right, and I'm interviewing from the left side.

As always, I learned a lot today! I’m seeing more and more pieces of the Ring cycle, and I can’t wait to see how they all fit together – only a few more weeks until the show!

Photos by Ilona Rossman Ho.
 
 

My body is sore right now. And I can’t figure out if it’s sore because of wakeboarding this morning or the third “Confessions” shoot today.

The shoot started out simple – I showed up and McCaw Hall and got a tour of onstage, backstage, the audience – everything!

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I interviewed Pete, the Properties Manager, right in front of the stage! He told me all about the recently renovated McCaw Hall and the sets that were on the stage. Pete also showed me a bunch of the props from the Ring cycle! I got to hold some swords, and I even got to touch the ring!

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Then I met up with Julianne Gearhart, who plays one of the Rhinemaidens in the Ring cycle. She told me all about what it’s like to fly in the air while singing! I’m sure glad I don’t have to do that! She basically has to pretend she’s swimming around every time she’s on stage!

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Then I interviewed Richard Paul Fink, who plays Alberich in the Ring cycle. He has to do a ton of stunts in the show, like flips and jumps and climbing!

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After I interviewed him, we went on the stage and he showed me some of the moves he has to do! The stage was set for the first scene, on the river bottom, so he showed me how to pretend I’m walking on a slimy surface (even though it’s really just made of Styrofoam!). He also taught me how to climb up the set (from the audience you’d never know how he does it!), and jump from one part of the set to another! I think that all might be the reason my body is sore right now! But luckily, I had my athletic clothes and kneepads on, so I came out without needing any band-aids.

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look at Richard jump right over me!
After all of that excitement, I got to play with fire! The pyrotechnician for the Ring cycle, showed me how to light parts of the stage on fire! And it was so easy! All I had to do was move a tiny little switch, and, voila! Flames! I was very entertained. If they left me alone there I would’ve played with the fire for hours.

After I got my pyromania out of my system, Jim gave me another backstage tour, so I got to see even more of the sets! I even got to see the dragon, which, right now, is in pieces, but I’m excited to eventually see it all put together! Jim also showed me how some of the sets rotate around, so they can be used for multiple scenes! I’m looking forward to seeing those in action!

The last part of my day was spent watching a rehearsal of the first scene from the whole Ring cycle. I got to watch the Rhinemaidens get into their costumes (it took a while to pout those complicated harnesses on!), and then sing and fly (or swim!) around on stage! I saw Richard in action with a few of his stunts. So I got to watch a few of the aspects of the Ring that I had already learned about fit together!

Slowly but surely, I’m learning a lot about the Ring! So many new and exciting things happened today – I don’t know if next week can top it!

photos courtesy of Ilona Rossman Ho

 

    Author

    Cassidy Quinn Brettler
    Emerson College
    Acting and Broadcast Journalism
    Alpha Epsilon Phi
    Class of 2011

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