In Poulenc’s Dialogues of the Carmelites,the thud of the guillotine is heard. Principal Percussion Will James plays that thud in the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis production, which began orchestra rehearsals, with vocalists, on Tuesday, with Ward Stare conducting.
Will demonstrates his “thud” technique with Adam Crane, VP for External Affairs. Undoubtedly some of you recognize the “Mahler hammer,” which was last used by Will for the St. Louis Symphony performance of Mahler’s Sixth Symphony in 2011.
If you are a St. Louis Symphony musician, at this time of year you are regularly checking your appointment calendar. For example, if you are playing in the Green orchestra, you play The Magic Flute at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis Friday night and Indigo Girls on Saturday night at Powell Hall. If you are among the Red contingent, you play Gospel According to Swing Friday night, a rehearsal of Dialogues of the Carmelites Saturday morning and a performance of The Elixir of Love Saturday night.
If you are in the St. Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra you are totally focused on one thing, the final concert of the YO season, at Powell Hall Sunday afternoon. It’s always a bittersweet affair, with many members playing their last concert with the ensemble as they are aging out (22 max.) or going off to other life adventures. Pines of Rome makes for a rousing farewell, as well as a blazing statement for the continuation of a great and ever-changing orchestra.
The opera Twenty-Seven receives its world premiere at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis on June 14. It went through its first orchestra rehearsal on Tuesday, Michael Christie conducting. Twenty-Seven tells a story of 27 Rue de Fleurus, the salon/home of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas in the Paris of the 1920s. You may expect visits from F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. I took a peek over the pianist’s shoulder before rehearsal and read the title of Act Four: Gertrude Stein Is Safe, Safe.