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Melodramatic

I was watching a rehearsal of Turnadot at San Diego Opera earlier this week. Opera theater is incredible but full of anachronisms.

The acting, if it can be called that, tends to be stuck in the 18th Century. The style is completely presentational in a bad way.

We should define what presentational acting is. Basically, presentational acting means the performers and their characters are aware of the audience. There is nothing wrong with presentational acting but it does tempt the performer to play to the audience instead of create a character.

When Shakespeare has a character address the audience, it is presentational.

One of the challenges of an opera performance is that the music dictates the tempo, pitch, rhythm, and tone of the scene.

In a straight play, an actor can find their own tempo, develop their natural rhythm and tone and the scene feels right.

Opera singers have no choice. In a show like Turandot, there are eighty chorister, thirty children’s chorus, and over a dozen principal and secondary (comprimario) roles. Add to that, at least sixty musicians in the orchestra plus off stage brass brands. All these performers are singing and playing based on the notes on the page and the stick in the conductor’s hand. Now, what happens if an actor decides to find their own tempo? Train wreck.  

I feel for opera singers. It’s a tough gig to act.

Resorting to over-the-top, melodramatic, gestures is an easy out. Funny enough, these gestures work in opera so long as the singer believes the gesture and is committed to it. An honest emotion is wonderful at all times on any stage.

If the singer feels self conscious about the “acting” it makes the gestures cliche and the audience uncomfortable.

The singers in Turandot were fairly good on the acting side. The singing was phenomonal. I am predicting that the role of Liu will steal the show.

Turandot opens at The Civic Theater on Janurary 29th and has only four performances.

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I was watching a rehearsal of Turnadot at San Diego Opera earlier this week. Opera theater is incredible but full of anachronisms.

The acting, if it can be called that, tends to be stuck in the 18th Century. The style is completely presentational in a bad way.

We should define what presentational acting is. Basically, presentational acting means the performers and their characters are aware of the audience. There is nothing wrong with presentational acting but it does tempt the performer to play to the audience instead of create a character.

When Shakespeare has a character address the audience, it is presentational.

One of the challenges of an opera performance is that the music dictates the tempo, pitch, rhythm, and tone of the scene.

In a straight play, an actor can find their own tempo, develop their natural rhythm and tone and the scene feels right.

Opera singers have no choice. In a show like Turandot, there are eighty chorister, thirty children’s chorus, and over a dozen principal and secondary (comprimario) roles. Add to that, at least sixty musicians in the orchestra plus off stage brass brands. All these performers are singing and playing based on the notes on the page and the stick in the conductor’s hand. Now, what happens if an actor decides to find their own tempo? Train wreck.  

I feel for opera singers. It’s a tough gig to act.

Resorting to over-the-top, melodramatic, gestures is an easy out. Funny enough, these gestures work in opera so long as the singer believes the gesture and is committed to it. An honest emotion is wonderful at all times on any stage.

If the singer feels self conscious about the “acting” it makes the gestures cliche and the audience uncomfortable.

The singers in Turandot were fairly good on the acting side. The singing was phenomonal. I am predicting that the role of Liu will steal the show.

Turandot opens at The Civic Theater on Janurary 29th and has only four performances.

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