The dress rehearsal of Raskatov’s A Dog’s Heart passed last night almost without untoward incident after a previous cancellation due to dangerous conditions. But the singers still feel edgy about the chaotic and goings-on around them. Very few singers dare to speak out. One of them has sent this vivid, anonymous account to Slipped Disc:
We managed finally to get through the whole of Raskatov’s opera in one go this evening – for the first time. I have no idea from my position whether various technical cues were correct, or how the performance looked and sounded out front.
From what little I saw this afternoon at a technical run, the primary Italian problem is ‘why do a job efficiently with 1 or 2 people, when you can make a right hash of it with 7 or 8?’ Unlike any other theatre in any country I’ve worked, there is no figurehead stage manager here. Where elsewhere there is one person on the desk with one score cueing everything, at La Scala lights, sound, set changes, extras cues & video are cued by five separate people with their own scores (so cues are difficult to get right or correct across the board) – and of course their own interpretation of exactly what, where and when! Then there’s one chap – friendly and helpful though he is – who’s a sort of tv compere, running around with a microphone in hand trying to bring some co-ordination to the whole. It really is a mess.
From what I actually do experience in the evening – it’s the makeup room which amazes. Akin to being in a chicken run, with constant loud Italian yakety-yak going on (no chance to be quiet and concentrate), the tv blaring in the corner showing the papal election results, someone dishing out a homemade tiramisu amongst the colleagues and when a soloist’s makeup is finished, into the chair pops one of the ladies to fiddle with her own hair/makeup and try things out for her own beauty treatment!
Later in the evening they were all huddled round a magazine talking horoscopes. It could be a French & Saunders sketch, but no it’s the makeup department at La Scala! … and alas the makeup they do doesn’t compare with the quality one sees in Amsterdam, or at ENO or the Royal Opera.
I’m concentrating on getting my voice into shape, staying safe and trying to get paid – this last element’s also proving a comedy of errors … if you can’t ask for another form to fill out, then shift the file onto someone else.
On the whole it has been a disappointing and sad experience. Not what I might have expected or dreamed of for my La Scala debut.