7 years ago

Volume 4 Issue 5 - February 1999

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20 mehirid the scenes ~

20 mehirid the scenes ~ At the COC, schedules don't just happen BY DAWN LYONS Sandra J. Gavinchuk s office ·in the Canadian Opera Company builqing on Front Street is a charming section of the third~ floor eaves of the Joey & Toby Tannenbaum Opera Centre. The south wall is the original red brick with a window, the glass partition to the hall is crisscrossed with dark red muntins which giv(! it the genteelly festive look of a cotiage. Do not be deceived! Sandy is the COCs Scheduling Manager. Real work happens here. 'Sandy's lasfvisitor leaves and she waves me in. Before I can sit · down the phone rings. After she hangs up she explains: 'Golden Ass'. I got the last scene in today, all we need is or~hestration." Me: Thats the Robertson Davies one; for mid-April? Sandy: Yes, his adaptation of the Apuleius play. Me: I've seen the CDC Weekly Schedules that you make up. Everyone around here picks up their copy Friday afternoon and lives by it for the next week. Rehearsals, coaching, wig fittings, dogs- it covers everything. And there are daily revisions! ... Are there unions involved? Sandy: Three; the Toronto Musicians' Association for the orchestra, Canadian Actors Equity- that's singers, stage management, directors, choreographers, and dancers, if a ballet - and IATSE, that's the stagehands. Me: Who else? Sandy: Music staff, that's conductor, assistant conductor, and rehearsal pianists - minimum two per show. Xerxes has three rehearsal pianists because we are doing three rehearsals per day instead' of the . usual two. Golden Ass will also need three pianists, since we are using dancer/acrobats who will need to rehearse at the same time as the singers, and sOmetimes we wi.Jl .need two pianists for -the singers, so they can learn the orchestral textures· of the workit's a world premiere, they can't just listen to the CD. Also vocal coaches, diction coaches, costumes, makeup and wigs. And our Ensemble Studio, that's our young singers development program. We work on everything -singing, acting, choice of repertoire, role preparation, even how to dress for an audition. What else .. piano and harpsichord tunings (our pianos sometimes get pounded on from l0:30am to II :OOpm), and space requirements, the Education Department n_eeds room, there are meetings and so on. Me: Most of this happens here at the Tannenbaum? Sandy: Yes. The Imperial Oil Opera Theatre, our main rehearsal hall here, is an IATSE space. We usually alternate two operas in a performance run, and rehearse both at the same time. Normally both sets would be in the Imperial, one on each wall. Rehearsals would altemate between the ImperiaL and the Jackman studio, upstairs. This way all scenery moving would be in the IATSE space; However, the director for Xerxes wanted to have all his rehearsals in the same space, so we used the Jackman Studio for Xerxes ruid Barber is all in the Inlperial. Besides the Imperial and the Jackman, we have two rehearsal studios, Vinci and McLaughlin, and 4 practice rooms. Me: I notice there is very little on your desk. Do you have a scheduling programe on your computer? Sandy: No, I keep it all in my head. There is too much detail and too many chru1ges to make it cut and dried. Me: How does the schedule come to be? Sru1dy: The overall schedule is detennined by hall availability: For example, The HUll1Illingbird Centre was available from Sandra Gavinchuk January 4 to February 6. Phillip Boswell, our Artistic Administrator, would say "I'd like to do Barber of Seville ru1d Xerxes" or whatever. Marketing would determine the days they can best sell and how it would work in with the subscription series - no Mondays, how many matinees, that sort of thing. Once the performance dates are set, the other in-hall events - tech rehearsals for scenery and lights, orchestra rehearsals, and the dress rehearsals - can be slotted in. Then begin dates for principal and chorus rehearsals - the principals must have the role memorized before their first rehearsal, but since the chorus is all ensemble singing, th~y usually need more time to prepare, so chorus rehearsals often start before the principals. I check the overall to make sure it's possible, then I build the daily and weekly schedules with the director. Me: How do you determine what is "possible"? Sandy: It depends on the vocal requirements of the opera. Say ' we were doing Flying Dutchman and Idomeneo ru1d we had scheduled Orchestra I, Orchestra 2 ru1d Dress and Matinee consecutively. Both works require the chorus on stage for long periods of time ru1d they are singing over ru1 orchestra. Although the collective agreement allows the chorus to sing 9 days in a row, vocally it would be too taxing - 6 days in a row would be too much in this TORONTo's ONLi COMPREHENSIVE CLASSICAL & CONTEMPORI\RY CONCERT LISTING SOURCE ~ case. Also Senta needs two days R off. 0 .. 2 " Me: This means you know all these operas? Sru1dy: I know each opera inside out and backward. I started out as a singer and I still sing in the chorus. Me: Then, the weekly schedule is done with the directors? Sandy: I contact the directors and ask their preference. Some don't want ANYTHING to do with it. If they want to build the , schedule themselves, I piovide a precis of the parameters of our collective agreements and when we should have Act I done, when Act 2, and when the workthrough. I co-ordinate the schedules of the two directors to avoid ·conflicts - our young singers may be singing minor · roles in both operas, and we have to make sure they are not overworked. It is my responsibility to make sure time is not wasted. Whatever the personality ru1d style of the director, the show has to be ready on time. I think my most importru1t skill is being able to quickly determine how I can best work with each director, conductor and visiting singer. How I schedule also affects Artistic, Music and Production departments'. budgets. Me: How did you learn to do this? Did you have special 'trairiing? Sru1dy reflects for a moment: My musical background has been of enonnous help to me, but no, there is no place to go to learn how to do scheduling, I've just always been good at orgrulizing ru1d always liked it. Me: How do you stay sane? Sandy: It's no problem! I enjoy my work, it's like a giant puzzle. I like the constru1t challenge, when I am not challenged I get ... edgy. People say to me, "I need to just veg." I'm not sure what that means ... (Continued on page 22)

· The Willowdale Players in association with Willowdale Presbyterian Church present .lase ph / mtd 'the 3 8 ,.. A . ~ 1 1 10~ MGZDI!J . . · s flnt~1 · 1f'ach~ticaler ·. ' ' . l»raaMce&rt ·. · Friday, Febru~ry 12- 2:00p.m. · Saturday, February 13....:.. 8:00p.m. , Sunday, February 14 .~ _8:00p.m. · Willowdale Presbyterian Church · · 38 Ellerslie Ave . . . (OffYonge St., just North of the Ford Centre) Call ( 416) 221-83 73 for tickets Adults • _Students • Group Rates available -ALL SEATS RESERVED TORONTO's ONLY COMPREHENSIVE CLASSICAL & CONTEMPORIIRY CONCERT USTII'.G SOURCE

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