[This is the first of a two-part guest post from Ensemble Studio soprano Simone Osborne, who just finished a run playing one of the Strolling Players in Death in Venice and will be sharing the role of Pamina with Isabel Bayrakdarian in the upcoming The Magic Flute. This post was written Nov. 5.]
I am sitting in one of the large rehearsal rooms at the COC rehearsal space in full makeup, updo, diamond earrings and . . . a sweatsuit. The Ensemble singers had auditions for an American opera company this morning but have quickly switched gears for school tour rehearsals this afternoon. I've stayed all dolled up because I have a little performance tonight and I will have to head there directly from rehearsal, however sweats fare much better than audition dresses in staging sessions. Switching gears seems to be the name of the game these days as each of us is performing by night in Death in Venice and rehearsing by day for the Xstrata Ensemble Studio School Tour. Each season, the COC Ensemble takes two shows out on the road to elementary schools across the GTA and beyond. This year we are presenting Cinderella which is a combination of Rossini's comic masterpiece La Cenerentola and Massenet's sublime Cendrillon, performed in both official languages, English and French in addition to an original Canadian work commissioned especially for the school tour, called Isis and the Seven Scorpions by Dean Burry.
Last year the furthest stop on the tour was Timmins, Ontario. That is a good nine hour drive from downtown Toronto. Well, Timmins is the equivalent of a stone's throw away compared to our furthest destination this season. The Cinderella cast will be travelling all the way to the Raglan mine this month. Where is Raglan, you ask? Located in the Nunavik region of northern Québec, about 100 K south of Deception Bay, it is impossible to Google Map an estimated travel time to Raglan as it is only accessible by air. The Raglan mine is home to the tour's wonderful sponsors the Xstrata mining group. Unfortunately, the Isis cast will not be taking part in this part of the tour, but we are looking forward to stories about the "sub-arctic permafrost" site, with an average underground temperature of -15 C. What an adventure it will be for our five Ensemble singers, stage manager and pianist!
At this point we are in the final week of staging rehearsals for the two shows. For about a month we have been in music rehearsals and staging sessions in order to prepare these 45-minute shows that will take place in school gymnasiums and theatres all across the province (and beyond!) for the next five weeks. And we are now polishing details, practising with costumes, and learning how to pack away and set up our scenery. This weekend we present the tour shows to school groups and friends and family of COC staff in open dress rehearsals held at the rehearsal space. And then we hit the road . . . the gruelling, gruelling road!
Photo: Prop scorpions from Isis and the Seven Scorpions. Photo © Simone Osborne 2010.
1. Scorpion puppets from Isis and the Seven Scorpions
Posted by Simone Osborne / in Xstrata Ensemble Studio School Tour / comments (0) / permalink
Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001