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Programme for Haddon Hall from 1893

Programme for Haddon Hall from 1893 ~ Image via Wikipedia

Practice notes, short version.

Haddon Hall rehearsals will reach a new level next week.  The soloists have been asked to attend rehearsal, and will be integrated with the chorus.

Why practice differently?

The piece is difficult for both soloists and chorus.  The key level changes without warning, so it’s hard to hear where your line is headed.  In addition, the soloists, orchestra, and chorus play off each other in intricate rhythms.  Sometimes only the rhythms are difficult; at other times, the key level changes simultaneously.

Why more than once?

This afternoon, I practiced differently than in previous sessions for the same piece.  In fact, I practiced many sections 2 or 3 times.

In Monday’s rehearsal, I will be jumping around in the score more than ever.  So first, I made sure I knew all the voice parts (solos plus chorus).  After that, I practiced the piano reduction.

And then I went back to be sure the singers will be able to hear which key they’re in!  That means that it’s crucial to play some harmony all the time.

What we need to see

Keep in mind that when you’re dealing with opera scores, the voice parts are often out of order, i.e. a bass part often appears above a treble part.  It’s up to us to keep them all sorted out.  Brackets, arrows, and extra clef signs help, as do fingerings, circled bass intervals and harmonic changes, and surprising accidentals.

I frequently mark the key or time signature at the beginning of a line, page, or entrance, as rehearsals skip around in the score and start in the middle of a line or page.  There may be key or meter change indicated a page and a half before a starting point.  So if it’s not marked where you need it, you may not remember.

Also, writing in the name of the character at the top of a page in the middle of a solo line assures that we will play the line in the correct octave, even when rushed, starting in the middle of the solo.  (Tenor or soprano?)

Mark your score!

Got a pencil?  Marking the score can save you lots of time and even more mistakes.

Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.


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