San Diego Opera Brings ‘Barber Of Seville’ To Drive-In
Speaker 1: 00:00 This weekend, San Diego opera will hold. It's one amazing night concert and barber of Seville at a pop-up drive in a Pachanga sports arena, parking lot KPBS arts reporter, Beth duck Amando speaks with Bruce [inaudible] about what his role of conductor is and the challenges he faces working outdoors. Speaker 2: 00:19 Bruce, you are going to be conducting two events for San Diego opera. And first of all, let me ask you to explain what that role is in case people don't fully understand. Speaker 3: 00:31 Well, the conductor component is the person who is responsible for the direction of the music guides, the arc of the production for the singers and the production of Butterworth Seville in particular. And then also, uh, is the conductor for the orchestra. So I'm sort of marshaling all of the musical forces on stage and in the pit or in this case, a separate orchestra platform at Pachanga. Speaker 2: 00:54 Yeah. So you mentioned an orchestra pit, and this is what you would normally have inside a theater. So what are the challenges of doing events outdoors Speaker 3: 01:06 There? Immense challenges when we first started to think about doing a drive in production, a lot of our protocols were dictated by the spaces available to us. And in particular, the orchestra area, uh, became denoted by a platform that was going to be installed. That was 42 feet wide by 60 feet long. So once you have that defined area, then because of the pandemic, we had to look at the protocols in place. And so we are looking at spacing, the instrumentalists, according to whether they are masked players, violinists, percussion players, keyboard players, or unmasked, brass players and woodwind players. So the mass players, who would they perform with their masks on? They have to have six feet of separation between each of the instruments, the woodwind and brass players, that's 12 feet. So then you have to take out your measuring tape and put together quite a highly engineered series of spatial references to make sure that everybody's got their 12 feet or everybody's got their six feet. And then from there, well, how many, how many players can you actually fit on a 42 by 60 foot orchestra platform? It's an enormous challenge. And the answer is 24 Speaker 2: 02:27 And these two events are different in the sense one is an opera and the other is an evening of song. What is the difference for you if there is any in terms of conducting Speaker 3: 02:37 It's huge. So the opera typically in a, in a rehearsal period for the opera, you have anywhere between two weeks and three weeks, depending on the size of the production to do a musical rehearsal, to work with the stage director and really create the arc of the evening to get the staging and the timing, right in particular with comedy, because comedy is always much more, more challenging in terms of really finessing the timing of all of the elements. Then you have a rehearsal period with the orchestra, and then you have the first meeting with the singers and the orchestra called the zits POBA before you go through at least two different orchestra dress rehearsals. So the amount of time that you're actually living with the production and working with the various artists is hardly luxurious, but it is enough time to really get it all into place with the concert, because it is a one night event. The vast majority of the planning and rehearsals is done remotely. Um, the bottom line is we get one orchestra rehearsal by itself. Then we have the afternoon on Saturday before the concert to bring everybody onto stage. And our script writer slash stage director slash co-creator has got very specific things to achieve while I'm conducting the orchestra and that they sing along, uh, to do that dress rehearsal. And then we go that night. So it is all systems go all the time with the concert. Speaker 2: 04:08 Now with a concert, is there a narrative or a story going on, even within just a concert setting Speaker 3: 04:16 In this particular concert, it has been conceived with a special guests. Narrator, James newcomers is one of our special guests artists, and he's actually has a bespoke script or written by the San Diego opera resident stage director, Alan Hicks. And he's created a script to really explore this idea of notorious pandemics from the black plague up to the AIDS crisis. And what we're trying to do is we're trying to use the script and, you know, forgive me for, for, for sounding, uh, like stealing from somebody, but I can burns type of documentary describing the why's and wherefores as to how this music evolved in reaction to the various notorious pandemics of our times. Speaker 2: 05:01 In contrast, you have the barber of Seville and it talk a little bit about the music and MIS and the possibility that for a lot of us of a certain age, our introduction to opera, might've been bugs bunny, and this Speaker 4: 05:18 Welcome to my shop. Let me get your mom, let me see the grab. Hey, you're next? Speaker 3: 05:35 The iconic reference, uh, to the know a lot of Yeti, the civilians, of course, it's bugs bunny and Rossini's great comedy, and it truly is from the bell console period. It sort of defines what comic Italian opera is in the early to middle 19th century. And I mean, first of all, everybody knows the tunes from the get-go, the overture, the Symphonia is iconic. It's been heard and deployed in movies soundtracks, and this is a, a comic opera full of great beloved tuned, full hits. So everybody has a chance to show off as a vocalist. It th the, the virtuosity of Rossini's writing at this point in his career is, uh, bar none, not only for the singers, but also for the instrumental everybody's got to be in top shape to, to, to really make this music sing. Speaker 2: 06:30 You talked a little bit about comic timing and opera. So how does that play out in terms of it's a live performance? So you're not sure exactly how things are going to work out, but how do you as a conductor have a role in that comic timing? Speaker 3: 06:48 Um, I think it really has a lot to do with keeping yourself in the moment constantly so that as you say, uh, it's, it's, it's, it's a live performance. So there are always going to be meeting mitigating factors, whether it's wind or in an outdoor venue, if a fire engine suddenly screams by how is that going to interface with the characters on stage? Are they going to make an allowance for that for a moment? Um, are they not, are they going to press forward? So it's, it really has a lot to do with knowing the production well enough to forecast a sort of a realm of possibilities. It could go this way. It could go that way, whichever way it does go. I have to be poised and ready to adapt instantaneously. And that's exciting actually, that's, that's the fun part of, of live music making, because you never know what's going to happen. And hopefully Friday night's performance is not going to be the same as Tuesday nights, performance in all facets. Speaker 2: 07:50 All right. I want to thank you very much for talking about opera. Truly my pleasure to be here Speaker 4: 07:57 One amazing night is this Friday and the barber of Seville begins. It's four performances on Saturday, both take place at Pachanga sports arena, parking lot. [inaudible] [inaudible], [inaudible].