Wow. What an evening! Yesterday we finally premiered Poulenc's Les Dialogues des Carmelites at the São Carlos National Opera House in Lisbon. If you've been following my blogs about this production, you know it's a project which has been incredibly special for me both because it was my debut in my country's National Opera House and because I found myself working with an incredible team of people.
It was a very emotional evening, not only because of the above-mentioned, but also because of the opera itself that always shakes you to the core with its really powerful ending.
There was also a lot of frisson about the event with the Portuguese Broadcasting Company filming the performance for TV, so the stakes were quite high for everyone and although I wasn't singing any of the lead roles, I still had some beautiful music to sing and I obviously wanted to do it well and that requires dealing with your inner game throughout the day.
People sometimes ask me what I do before a performance and yesterday was a perfect example of how planning your routine on the day of an important show can help you get through to the evening feeling ready to tackle the challenge. We all deal with these situations differently, but personally, I just try to keep myself distracted throughout the day. That meant waking up at my usual time (around 8:30/9:00), having a nice breakfast followed by some humming in the shower, just to assess if the voice was in order or if I'd need more thorough warmup during the day. The good thing about humming in the shower is that you inhale steam which helps hydrating your larynx after sleeping. After that, I did some admin and around lunchtime I walked to the opera house. I love walking especially when I have to perform, both because it wakes up the body and secondly because it's a perfect excuse to listen to some Pop Music guilty pleasures. Performances in Portugal start a little bit later than in the UK (usually around 8PM), so I had roughly 8h to kill which I tried to plan as well as possible.
That meant using that time to write opening night cards to my colleagues (something I'm usually exceptional at forgetting to do, but not this time) which considering that Carmelites has 12 soloists and I take upon myself to write personal messages to each of my colleagues, took about 2h to do. After that, I went and had lunch and coffee, and then caught up with my TV Series for about 2h (by the way, the new X-Files season is great!). When I finished, I only had about 4h left until curtains up, which is always the time at which I warm up properly for a show. I like doing it that in advance because if I'm not in a very good day vocally, it gives me enough time to address any difficulties I'm facing for the day. Fortunately, everything was fine, so after that I just went and had another coffee with a friend. After that, all that was left for me to do was to have dinner and head for the theatre again to get in costume and give the hair&makeup artists enough time to do their job without hurries.
Because no one likes to go on stage with a hanging wig.
I had a truly fantastic time on stage and the performance was incredibly powerful. The audience's response was amazing and the most fantastic thing was the almost minute-long silence after the curtain fell, followed by rapturous applause. In an opera like this one, that's always the best sign you can hope for.
We have two shows left, one on Friday and a matinee on Sunday and then I'm back to London on Monday and will start preparing my next projects, about which you'll hear some news very soon. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy the time I have left in this beautiful city and also the company of my incredible colleagues!