This week Opera Theatre of Saint Louis opens its production of Donizetti’s The Elixir of Love, with the St. Louis Symphony in the Loretto-Hilton pit. Principal Harp Allegra Lilly has a notable performance in this production. As she describes it: “I am hilariously under-involved in the Donizetti. I play just a single aria: Una furtiva lagrima, which is just two pages of music for me. I come in and tune at intermission, play my 2-3 minutes of material about 15 minutes before the end of the opera, and quietly duck out.
“I will add, however, that the aria is absolutely gorgeous, and it’s such a lovely moment to drop in and play, particularly because of the sublime singing and playing, respectively, of [tenor] René Barbera and [Principal Bassoon] Andrew Cuneo.”
Such drop-in-and-play activity is a far cry from Allegra’s initiation into the St. Louis Symphony. Last fall, in her first couple months in her first season with the orchestra, she played just about every heavy-duty harp part there is, plus demanding–and exquisite–performances of Peter Grimes at Powell Hall and Carnegie Hall.
With this in mind, I went back to a video I shot in March. When we think of harp, we think of its beautiful cascade of sound, but not the rigors that produce it–the pedals, the tuning, or the schlepping. Here is documentation of just one harp schlepp.