Few years ago I was part of a production of Paride ed Elena by C.W. Gluck. I played the long and demanding male role of Paride in a staging by the choreographer Clara Andermatt, who gave the performance a very elegant and original movement, creating moments of body dancing dialogue.
The scenery was simple but very effective. An old vertical piano, a bit deconstructed so that another singer could pass through it. A round top piano bench also quite old. And some large platforms possible to organize in different levels which were modified during the opera to promote diverse dynamics.
It was a wonderful rehearsal period with an amazing cast, incredible team and great stage assistants… All set for the premiere! But first: GENERAL REHEARSAL OPEN TO PRESS.
Everything was going well: silence in the audience; marking and lights all correct; perfect scenery changes; musically all quite well; condition of one of the scenic elements: dubious…
In one of the most beautiful moments of the musical interlude, in which the chorus performed a choreography that ended in a kind of human sculpture, my character and romantic partner were watching from the highest platform; she was standing and I was seated in the old (very old!) piano bench.
Then I felt a strange creak from the bench and I moved slightly to make sure of it; new creak and no good sign; so I glance at my colleague who was going to sit down after me, but of course my wide open eyes were not enough to make her imagine it was a sign I wanted to give her to be careful. The choreography ends and it’s my turn to get up at the same time my colleague has a recitative. It was a frame of second when she breathed and I ended up on the ground before a broken bench!
(I leave place for your imagination…)
Well, going on… I got up in the blink of an eye and I could see the human sculpture shaking everywhere because all of them were trying not to laugh and my colleague was singing from the gut to keep going without stopping… As they say “The show must go on!”. Funny as always, I looked everywhere except to my colleague – who was singing looking at me – because I had a tremendous desire to laugh.
Well, from the audience the journalists were certainly registering the hilarious moment… I was right!
Days later I gave an interview concerning other production I was involved in. The journalist was really kind and as soon as he understood I was part of Paride ed Elena cast he said cheerfully “Oh I was there at general rehearsal when the damned wretch girl fell from the bench”.
Immediate answer followed by a huge laugh which characterizes me:
– “The damned wretch girl was me!”.