Performance day! We rehearsed in the Peacock Room this morning and it was useful to be able to practice in the space where we would perform. Luckily most of us had performed in the room before so there were no nasty surprises when it came to the acoustic or backstage logistics.
I was generally happy with the rehearsal of the Bacchianas - I felt that I was able to be more daring with my communication, making direct contact with the instrumentalists, particularly Aida and David, in this new space. In a bigger space it was also easier to feel expansive and supported so that the last section felt more comfortable.
It was wonderful to be able to hear all of the cello pieces again and it was clear that the instrumentalists had taken on advice David's advice from yesterday (e.g. Helena managed to achieve a really earthy colour with less vibrato for her solo in the 'Folk Off' which was a complete contrast to her duet at the beginning of the Verdi). Again I was struck by the way in which certain performers lived the music, particularly my friend and colleague Urška (who had introduced me to his project in the first place) who never fails to express with her entire body whether as a soloist or the rhythm section!
After our short rehearsal David encouraged us to take a break rather than practice.
We had been quite diligent with promoting our performance through social media, flyers and word of mouth. Thibault had made an amazing promo video which encapsulated the week which we'd all shared, and we had a sizable audience for the concert of friends, family, colleagues and staff.
I had anticipated nerves before the final performance however didn't really feel any until I got on stage! The cellists were fantastic, although I wasn't generally that happy with the way my part of the performance went - my breathing wasn't as consistent as usual, I had to deal with regular interjections from a noisy toddler, and I felt that the ensemble wasn't as successful as in the rehearsal. However the performance was filmed and my friend Livy took a recording on her phone. After listening to this I realized that the performance was not terrible. It is inevitable that certain factors may throw us off in performances, and as performers we have to accept that despite a great week of rehearsals we will hardly ever be in the place to perform at 100%. I was reminded of a blog post I once read by Bass-Baritone Iain Paterson where he says exactly that:
"Over the years, I have met too many singers who have become obsessed with perfecting their 100% voice, by which I mean, the sound that they produce when they are at their absolute peak of vocal and physical health. However, it is important to realise that a working singer rarely gets the chance to take to the stage under ideal conditions.
All too often you are fighting off a cold, or hay-fever, or you’re jet-lagged, or you’ve had a terrible night’s sleep, or you are exhausted from a busy schedule. It is surprising and a little alarming to realise just how few opportunities you will ever have to perform at your absolute best. Hans Hotter once joked that his voice was only at its best about 4 days a year, and on two of them, he didn’t even have a show!"
(You can read the whole thing here.)
With this in mind, I think it is really important to live for the process and work with positive and supportive colleagues who will make the collaboration and rehearsal process a success. The performance is for the audience, and as in the case of our performance, the audience feedback we received was positive. Therefore our own perception of how it went is not that important. Only when going back into the rehearsal room should we acknowledge head on what we could have done better and re-enter the collaborative rehearsal process with fresh eyes, ears and enthusiasm.