This entire opera was a study in just how poorly something could be run and still somehow work. Dr. Jerome’s a wonderful singer, and I’m sure he’s had a wonderful career. But dear God in holy heaven, the man is incompetent. He almost never ran the music in rehearsal. He dragged endlessly, inefficiently through staging rehearsals till I wanted to scream. And I am Irish and German, so imagine how much patience is encoded into my genes to begin with.
In a more problematic sense, he let musical stuff slide. Singers were making up recitative lines and he wasn’t catching it. Rhythms were sloppy and he didn’t catch them. I had to correct some of them myself. And the biggest problem here is that he wasn’t the musical director. Dr. Beauregard was. Dr. Jerome was the stage director. So letting Dr. J. run the music in his sloppy way was not a good segue into Dr. B, the paragon of precision and accuracy. Not good bedfellows (obviously, because Dr. B and I are bedfellows. Duh).
Big rehearsals together were fascinating. Dr. Jerome acted like he was in charge sometimes…again, false; the Maestro is completely in charge in opera…and one night, it actually almost exploded.
We were running the show – I think it was probably Monday of the final week. Dr. Jerome had gone to crazyfucktown making cuts all over the place. Don’t mistake me; it’s OK to make cuts in a four-act opera, but he made stupid cuts, like he didn’t bother actually reading the music when he made his little pencil marks. He was working out of a Schirmer score, not an urtext like Beauregard. And apparently, Dr. Genius never thought it necessary to tell Dr. Beauregard where the cuts were. Because obviously it’s really optional to tell the musical director how you’ve changed the music.
(And correct me if I’m wrong, but shouldn’t the musical director be the one in charge of the music anyway? I mean, come on, I’m not in Mensa but I’m not stupid.)
Anyway, we got to one piece – I forget exactly which, though I think it might’ve been the Act III finale – in which Dr. Jerome had made a big cut that he hadn’t bothered to tell Beauregard about. Dr. J yelled for everyone to stop and explained what was going on. Dr. B was not happy in that quiet, controlled sort of way that is scarier than actual yelling. He called a standby as he went through his score.
(As I understand it, this is more or less the equivalent of an Ancient Roman tribune of the plebs saying veto, "I forbid": it means everyone freeze, sit the fuck down, chill the fuck out, and just generally check yo self before you wreck yo self.)
We were all more or less motionless, trying not to breathe too loudly because we might all fucking DIE at any minute. I was trying not to move at the harpsichord. The air was crackling and the orchestra looked terrified. We were just waiting for them to start yelling at each other. And at least the orchestra and singers had each other. I was all alone up there.
The singers onstage did not seem to understand just how thick the tension was, or that it was about to kill me with its SCARY. One of them, onstage, started getting restless. He asked “Can we just run the recit on the next part?” Beauregard didn’t respond, so I didn’t move. But Dr. Jerome was impatient too, because he is DUMB, and yelled for me to go. I was panic-stricken. We were at standby. But they were telling me to go. What the fuck do I do?
I caved and started playing. And was immediately filled with regret. I shouldn’t have played. Dr. Beauregard was completely in charge; I should have obeyed only him (as I always do in bed, mind you). I was so full of remorse. So that night, after rehearsal, back in my room, I emailed him to apologize. I was afraid that I had just been one more aspect of rehearsal out of his control; one more person who didn’t do what he wanted, in his opera. So I just wrote I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to undermine your authority. Please discipline me with naughty sex.
…I might not have actually included the last sentence, but I felt it was definitely implied.
And the awesome thing? The next morning, after the whole music department got out of the choir room after the choir rehearsal for the new choir director search [sooooooooo much fucking story here, it’ll take a dozen posts to explain all of this, so I’ll let it be for now], Beauregard caught me in the hallway. He was calm and had a hint of smile; he was wearing a lavender shirt (rawwwwwwr). And he said it was no problem; he hadn’t been unhappy with me at all, and gave me to understand that he had observed no trouble at rehearsal the night before.
Translation: the man got laid after rehearsal. He had dirty, nasty, sweaty frustration Mozart anger sex. There is no better kind in the world. I’ll bet anything his wife was wearing the same idiot grin that day too.
...so there's that.