Thursday, October 28, 2010

Life as a Kentucky Opera Studio Artist

Our Studio Artists have been getting quite the work out. Not only were they all involved with The Elixir of Love, they were also preparing for Barber of Seville for Owensboro, preparing for the Composers workshop and taking classes all over the city. They had an acting class at Actors Theatre, and a stage combat class with the Fraizier International History Museum.
Gabe Preisser is our baritone who submitted this blog post about the combat class.

Dan & Tomasz

Kentucky Opera Studio Artists along with their fearless leader of education Deanna Hoying went to the Frazier International History Museum to undergo a quick and dirty workshop in stage combat with the Curator of Historic Interpretations, J. Barret Cooper (He is also the combat choreographer for Kentucky Opera. You may have seen his work in recent operas such as Otello, Pirates of Penzance and Lucia di Lammermoore to name a few). The course focused primarily on the use of swords on stage beginning with a brief history of the sword ranging from the broad sword to rapiers and more.

After the lecture the fun began. First an overview of the basic sword positions or guards including the fool's guard, the plow, and a personal favorite the woman's guard. For safety reasons the brave novices began first practicing with just their arms (fighting to the death), then with fake wooden swords, then the real deal-AHHH! Don't worry mom the swords were rather blunt although the instructor assured us we could get badly hurt if not safe. So, safety first.

We learned the basics of communicating with your partner or opponent and maintaining distance so as never to get close enough to put yourself or your faux foe in real danger. J. Barrett was super animated and passionate about his craft making the workshop a truly enjoyable and educational experience as you can see from the pictures.

For those who were able to stay, there was an impressive demonstration given by our instructor and his partner, Jeremy White, showing several combinations of attacks and guards. Of course they had much more practice then mere operatic amateurs, so it was quite impressive. Overall, the workshop was extremely helpful in introducing a common practice on the operatic stage.
Several operas such as Verdi's Macbeth , Gounod's Romeo and Juliette, and Mozart's Don Giovanni call for sword play in the script not just with the men but even the deranged Lady Macbeth with her dagger or the common Mozartian pants role (i.e. a woman playing a man's part). Just goes to show everyone likes a good sword fight!
J. Barrett Cooper (looking back) was an excellent instructor!
You can see Gabe perform Figaro in the Barber of Seville with the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra on November 6. Get your tickets here while you can!

He will also particpate in the FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC Compsoser Workshop Recital at Comstock Hall on Sunday, October 31 at 3PM.

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