It’s Crunch Time for Carmen

We are at the point in preparation of La tragédie de Carmen where the whole show is learned and memorized, and we have it completely blocked (which means the staging has been set). This show is triple cast, with every role being cast that way except one. While this allows for more people to be involved in the show (a good thing for a student production), it really cuts down on each person’s rehearsal time. All three casts had to share a short rehearsal span of 4 rehearsals days (three hours each) a week for about 10-12 weeks of time. It really meant that each cast only got one full rehearsal a week, and they split up (in one way or another) the 4th rehearsal each week. That’s not many hours to put together a show if you look at one cast separately.


With this scheduling, each cast only had two music rehearsals before staging began in September. For the entire opera! Crazy, but we sure did pull it off, and the music sounds amazing, if I do say so myself. I had never before had to know an entire opera, front to back, before the first music rehearsal took place. Up to that point, I’d been assigned just one act at a time or something of that nature. I busted it out, spent a LOT of time practicing alone and with recordings, watching you tube clips and videos of the full show. I got to know where each scene was headed and started making character choices for my music right away. There was no time to waste.

Each week, the rehearsals were laid out with a plan of exactly which pages we were going to stage (block), and we stuck exactly to the schedule. I made sure each scene(s) was memorized beforehand and worked hard at characterization on my own time. It was super helpful to sit in on other casts’ rehearsals to learn blocking prior to my own rehearsal, where we would work everything on the daily schedule and only go back to retouch parts of that scene if there was time left over. Rarely was there a time to go back to touch up past scenes, so essentially we had one rehearsal on each section of the opera. This way of scheduling was super efficient, and it got us through the entire show with two weeks left to run the opera from start to finish. Never have I ever been cast in a show where there was this much time before opening night to work through it!

This all sounds well and good and exciting, right? But wait… let’s remember I only rehearse once a week (or twice when I’m lucky). So, yesterday my cast got their first full run through of La tragédie de Carmen, and I only have two more runs (one being today!) before my ONE tech rehearsal and that’s it. BAM. It’s show time after that. So remember how I talked about building stamina in my previous post? Well, this is the time to use that stamina. If it’s not built yet, my time is running out. And you know how I talked about being a thoughtful singer? This is also the time to implement that.

Final scene of The Metropolitan Opera’s Carmen (2010) – Elīna Garanča sings the title role opposite Roberto Alagna as Don José. Credit: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Because I do not have much more rehearsal time, I really have to kick into high gear during my work time at home. I need to study the score hard, review my notes, run the show from top to bottom on a recording and really close my eyes and map out my blocking. I need think of my translations more, letting them guide my blocking and character choices. I have started (audio) recording all rehearsals, so I can go over those and listen for my vocal weaknesses. These are all things I can do on my own so that when running the show with others I am that much more on point. I can take Carmen to the next level and make her come to life!!! There is no time like the present.

So, what do you do to prep for a role? Think about it, plan it out and make it happen. Comment below!


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