Senior year, spring opera = Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro. Yum. Mozart FTW.
I was already on deck as rehearsal accompanist (at our school, the orchestra plays the opera every other year, and this was an orchestra year). I wheedled Dr. Jerome into letting me play harpsichord for it, completely disregarding the fact that I don’t actually play the harpsichord. Minor detail. He didn’t need to know. And he wanted to put the harpsichord onstage, which ROCKED. WIN.
The costume was the first hurdle. Dr. Jerome had initially talked about putting me in a male costume for the show, like the girl who played Cherubino. I didn’t want to dress like a boy (come on, it’s my first opera “role.” I want boobs). So I asked him if I could dress as a girl. He said OK. I went to be fitted for my costume, explained the whole thing to the costume woman (she is a scary little crone), who said OK, whatever, and measured me. A few weeks later, when we went to try on costumes, I popped in the dressing room and she started to pull out kneebreeches and a vest. I was all Fuck What? And had to explain AGAIN that I was to be dressed as a girl. She looked dumbfounded. Apparently my talking to both her and the artistic director had had absolutely no effect. How foolish of me to expect it would.
She thought for a moment, remembered that she had a few extra dresses lying around, and trotted off to grab them. And magically, the very first one she had me try on fit perfectly. It was a fairly simple blue-flowered dress with lace on the sleeves. Not wanting to test my luck any further, I said Thanks! and nipped out before she could screw anything up further.
As it turns out, my blue dress had served as Mabel’s dress in a local Pirates of Penzance production the year before, in which Mabel was played by Alicia, who was Susanna in our Saturday night cast for Figaro. And backstage the night of the first dress rehearsal, she recognized it and laughed. The bassoonist in the orchestra, also one of my friends from symphony, informed me that my dress looked like his grandmother’s couch. So that weekend, he affectionately dubbed me “The Davenport.” Whatever. It showed some cleavage and that’s really all I want in my life.
So off I went in my Mabel dress. Then, at one of the dress rehearsals, one of the chorus girls mentioned that Dr. Jerome had had the costumers pull out a wig for me. I became suspicious.
I poked my head into the dressing room, and sure enough, on the table with wigs for the leads, there was one on a mannequin head marked “Sadie.” It was virtually identical to the one the other harpsichordist (a guy) was wearing: a curly brown ponytail. I immediately started mentally cataloguing the reasons I would not wear it:
a.) Only the male leads were wearing wigs in this show. Not the Countess, not Susannah. Only Marcellina, and that’s just because her hair wasn’t naturally grey. It would’ve looked odd to have one female in a wig.
b.) The wig itself was a male’s wig. It looked exactly the same as Figaro’s, as a matter of fact. Again, it would’ve looked odd.
c.) The wig was brown and curly. My hair is brown and curly. Come on, people. What the fuck.
d.) It was SO FUCKING UGLY and I DID NOT WANT TO WEAR THAT SHIT. Ratty little thing. Probably infested with lice. That shit *points at wig* is not going anywhere near this head *points at self*.
e.) What’s he going to do, fire me for it? And train another keyboardist three days before we start the show? Please. I own this shit.
So like the bold, brazen, courageous young woman I am, I simply avoided the costumer and Dr. Jerome as much as I could at rehearsal. When finally forced to go down to the dressing room to try it on, I just told the costume crone that I’d really rather not wear it, and she said OK, No Problem. AND SADIE PWNS AGAIN.
Costumes in this production were interesting. The leads’ costumes were rented (i.e., nice), and the chorus’ costumes came from the school theater department (i.e., mostly kind of shitty). The countess had a charming second act costume. Somewhere, Dolly Madison wanted her dress back. Figaro, alone, looked Spanish. The Count looked French. Basilio looked like the gay love child of Voltaire and Lady Gaga. Susannah and the Countess looked like Keira Knightley in Pirates of the Caribbean. I looked like Laura Ingalls Wilder if she had stapled lace dishrags to her sleeves. The chorus looked like peasants from a mystical land somewhere between Bavaria, Eastern Europe and the desert world of Tattoine. I was kind of waiting for Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru to join the wedding procession.
...and we'll just pretend it's not sad that I know who they are.
COMING SOON IN VOL. II: Drama, drama, drama. And (speculative) operasex. Consider yourself warned.