Set model for La clemenza di Tito, complete with colossal head
Today I start rehearsals for La Clemenza di Tito. On the first day it is customary for directors to say a few edifying words about their production concept – and for the designers to show the model to the singers. Though I have been writing about this piece for months, I feel stuck (as usual). I think if I prepare it, it will be phony, and I spend all my time trying to make sure what we make on stage together isn’t phony.
Yesterday I reread parts of the best book I have found on this opera, by Don J Neville: “La Clemenza di Tito is a masterpiece set by a master at the peak of his power as a musical dramatist, to a libretto which enabled him to draw on his wealth of experience in moulding the forms of major the operatic genres in his short lifetime.” I have made up this crazy timeline for the company – starting 35 years before the action of the opera begins! Just so they don’t think I am crazy, I’d better lay off the Hapsburg history; then again, it might be worth it for the friendly, sympathetic smiles I would get when I started talking about the Archduchess Maria Amalia and the Salic Law.
All will be well: they are a strong cast, and I do know the piece (even though it always feels on the first day like I have forgotten some crucial part, like setting fire to the Capitol…).