I have proposed previously that there is a direct corollary between the difficulty of music to be rehearsed and the time of arrival of musicians on stage for rehearsal. If my theory has any validity, Tobias Picker’s Emmeline, which opens at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis June 13, has the Red orchestra on its collective toes–just about everyone was on stage long before the five-minute call. Conductor George Manahan fielded numerous questions from individual musicians before it was time to give the downbeat.
Lucky for you and me, we don’t have to play the music, just enjoy the beauties the orchestra and vocalists create out of all those struggles. And the beauties are many, as one Symphony musician expressed, there are hints of Benjamin Britten in the score, and then, somewhat surprisingly, Aaron Copland. “Rock of Ages” comes surging in, but is distressed by a mad violin solo (tap your foot for Heidi Harris when you hear this writhe from the Opera Theatre pit). You might imagine Charles Ives tapping or stomping his own foot in appreciation for the musical disturbances Picker has devised.