Thursday, August 28, 2014

Gimme shelter! (Opera Carolina version)

This is a video of Marcello Giordani singing "Nessun dorma" from Puccini's "Turandot" five years ago at the Metropolitan Opera. He will sing it at Belk Theater in January in Opera Carolina's new production. But he may be rehearsing it here in an abandoned hosiery factory.

Singers don't mind suffering for their art, but blocking a show in an unheated building in January takes dedication too far. Opera Carolina learned that last year while preparing Puccini's "Il Trittico" in NoDa. (Its shop and rehearsal space are in the empty factory near the Amelie's building, the one with "Chadbourn" written on the smokestack.)

I didn't sing in that show, but I'll be in the chorus of "Turandot." So I'm grateful that OC is looking for a place warmer than Carl Icahn's heart this time around. The cry is out for help: Who wants to host N.C.'s oldest opera company, as it prepares Puccini's last and greatest opera?

For more than a decade after Belk Theater opened in 1992, OC rehearsed in a small rectangular room behind the stage, one where passers-by at Fifth and College streets could look in and watch. Blumenthal Performing Arts decided to convert that space to a black box theater (the Stage Door Theater) and gave Opera Carolina the boot.

The company moved around (notably to the gym and community hall at Avondale Presbyterian Church) but has rehearsed for the last couple of years in the dusty space at the back of the Chadbourn plant, where it builds sets and stores costumes. Giant fans make that room tolerable in hot weather, but when the frost comes....

That's why the company recently asked choristers if we knew of any place that can host staging rehearsals for a couple of weeks: "A first-floor, gymnasium-type room would be adequate, as we anticipate bringing portions of the scenery in for rehearsal. If a piano is not available, we will bring one of the opera's. The period is from January 4 through the 18th. We are prepared to pay something for a facility, but free is always good also."

So there you are. If you have a good idea, e-mail director of production Michael Baumgarten at Don't make us put Marcello Giordani at Trade and Tryon streets at Christmas with a sign around his neck reading "Will sing for shelter."


Garth Vader said...

Chantilly Hall at 2101 Shenandoah Ave would seem to fit the bill, however I have no idea who runs it.