Last week, I assisted in teching Emilie, a projection-heavy one-woman opera, at the Finnish National Opera. The show isn’t until next March, but we spent the week putting it back together and preparing it for rep. It’s really bizarre to spend the week doing everything you would to prepare for a show without the satisfaction of actually presenting it; there isn’t that release you feel on a successful opening night. Apparently, it’s pretty common in the opera world, and it makes complete sense. After seeing what we accomplished this week and looking at the tight schedule for next year, it would’ve been impossible without it.
Since it was just a remount, there weren’t a lot of creative decisions being made. There was some creative projector placement to make a shot from an insane angle, but otherwise it was all just adapting the show for the new venue. It was inspiring to see Austin working with the crew though. It helped that they were fantastic, friendly and very skilled, but Austin’s ability to coordinate a team to execute a design is impressive. Especially when there was some problem-solving to be done that required some serious rearrangement of hardware. His attention to detail and quality is always nice to watch, too.
It’s always odd putting up a show that’s been packed away for a while. It instantly takes you back to the last time it happened and feels like no time has passed at all. Except, when you step out of the theater, you’re in Helsinki.
Helsinki itself was fantastic. The city is very pleasant– small but vibrant. Great coffee and coffee-culture: there were usually free refills while you’re there and a little take-away cup for when you leave. The food was a little lackluster, although I ate reindeer steak and some great fish things, which were pretty good. I tried to get a different weird candy every day, to find myself unexpectedly coming across salted-licorice products, which were not what any American would categorize as candy. We really lucked out on the weather, too.
I had the worst jet lag of my life there. Coming from the West Coast, I was ten hours behind local time. I think it was a combination of normal jet lag combined with the fact that it never gets truly dark there (just dim between 2 and 4 AM), and being in a dark theater all day. My body had no idea what time it was. I found myself unpredictably tired and energetic all week. The second to last night there, the Assistant Director gave me some Tylenol PM and it straightened everything out.
Other than food and jet lag, it was a great experience. I hope to go back in March to get it back on its feet!