I'm playing in an opera this month!
This was quite unexpected. I play (french) horn in several community groups, none of which really does anything in the summer, so this was a nice surprise - and it even pays a bit!
The opera is "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by the British composer Benjamin Britten. He was a 20th century composer, though not an extreme, atonal composer. His music for this opera is atmospheric and gauzy for the enchanted forest and the fairies, romantic for the smitten couples, and peasant-like for the "thespians."
It's written for a very small orchestra. That means that everybody hears you. I'm playing 2nd horn, of two horns, but there's no blending into the background. At last week's rehearsal both of us horn players were sight reading the parts, but now we have a week to practice, so the conductor will be expecting more this week. We haven't heard much of the singers yet as we are rehearsing just the orchestra parts right now.
One of the surprises at the first rehearsal was how young the orchestra members are. I think I am probably about 30 years older than everyone else! I decided it's not a big deal. I'm just here to play. However, it got me thinking about the groups I regularly play in. Every group has it's own personality, I would say. The band I play in is predominantly school band directors. They are very serious about playing well and they all know a lot about band music and conducting. They are a happy, upbeat group and many go out after rehearsal to socialize. The orchestra I belong to is a typical community group. We are mostly adults, with a few high school students. The playing ability ranges from pretty rusty to practically professional, so overall playing is uneven. It's a friendly group, but lacks the cohesiveness that the band full of band directors has. This new opera orchestra is made up of 20-somethings, mostly, who are aiming for a career as performers. I don't sense a group dynamic yet, maybe because it is a pick-up group, but they are all friendly.
I am very happy to have this opportunity. It's been years since I played an opera. It's a challenge that has gotten me practicing new things. I'm excited to hear it with the singers and to see how they plan to stage it. Fun times!