New Kid on the Block

This is our San Diego Opera Ensemble, a group of young professional opera singers that perform around San Diego County at schools and community centers. It is hard work with hundreds of performances and far too many hours riding around in a van with lousy air-conditioning from gig to gig. But it is a start in this business, which is a lot harder than many imagine, and for an aspiring singer it is a wonderful opportunity to build up some experience.

Today begins the first of an occassional series focused on the Ensemble -- a tour journal if you will. For this post I picked on the new girl, mostly because she's new and doesn't know to remain motionless and therefore unseen when I walk into a room.

Rachel Copeland (that's her up above) is a lyric coloratura soprano from Oklahoma who's performed with Indianapolis Opera and Lousiana Lyric Opera to name just a few.

I've asked her what it like to be the new kid on the block, and what is the rehearsal process is like. Here's what she said:


Today was our first day of performances on the road! I feel like I’m completely a part of the San Diego Opera family now. It’s really exciting for me to be able to say that, and I’m thrilled to be able to represent San Diego Opera as their ensemble member.

Our rehearsal process was intense. We’ve actually been here for a month already (which I can’t believe – it’s gone by so quickly). Our rehearsal process started with a rehearsal at the house of our boss (also my host). That rehearsal ended, then, with a pool party and backyard grilling. I must say, this was a great start to the new chapter of my life. I could get used to singing and then eating some great fajitas and basking in the Southern California sun! After the first ‘relaxed’ rehearsal, we stepped into high gear. We had non-stop rehearsals from 9 – 5 six days a week for the next 3 weeks. Throughout the first week of musical rehearsal, all of the ensemble members came completely prepared. Believe me, I was happy about this because it allowed us extra time to explore musical nuances and really invest in our character choices rather than just plucking out pitches! And you may think that this doesn’t happen, but it does… much more frequently than I’d like to report.

We’ve staged 2 50-minute operas in the last 3 weeks with 2 different directors. They have really different directing styles, and so it has been rewarding to be able to have the variance. This is a longer rehearsal period than some of the other operas that I’ve performed in before. Because of the extra time, I’ve been able to appreciate seeing my fellow ensemble members take more emotional and physical chances (anyone who sees Chad, our tenor, in Rumpelstiltskin will really understand that!). I value this rehearsal period because I’ve gotten to know each ensemble member – how they react to nerves, how to count on them for support in challenging moments (personally and professionally!), how to respond to the acting that they share with me, and many more rewarding aspects of each of my new colleagues. In this rehearsal process, I’ve also been thrilled to have such amazing costumes and sets. I think it’s wonderful that San Diego Opera invests so much in these items for the educational tour. Having the wonderful costume staff make me look and feel like a hundred dollars really does help in feeling included into the San Diego Opera family! The most exciting and unique part of my experience here with San Diego Opera has been interacting with the amazing staff. I am so lucky to work with so many people who are genuinely thrilled that I am one of the newest members of the ensemble. No joke – every single person that I have met has made me personally feel welcome.

Back to our busy rehearsals, our last week was really used for fine tuning and costume rehearsals. This all culminated on Friday, our last dress rehearsal, though we had a great audience. Even my sister, who was in San Diego for a medical conference, was able to come and appreciate the finale of our rehearsal process! She hasn’t gotten to see me perform too much so she’s usually teary-eyed after hearing me sing. It’s great to feel her support! And, on a positive note, my brother-in-law was also there, and it was his first opera experience! I’m glad to report that there is now one more opera-lover in this world!

And now, here we are… the completion of our first day of actual performances! Here’s to what the rest of the year will be. If it’s anything like the first month, it will be an experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

- Rachel Copeland


Anonymous said…
Great article! It's always a treat to read about what efforts are involved in each opera performance, since we audience usually only get to hear/see the final product. Thanks a bunch! :o)

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