In-Studio Rehearsals The PLA Opera's season begins with rehearsals outside of the theater, at the regular rehearsal studios. The stage action is mapped out, the performers experiment with their characters, and the director's ideas for the flow of the opera are shared with the cast. At the same time, the orchestra is rehearsing with conductor at the separate rehearsal studio. Once everyone is done preparing their own material, it is time to combine the effort.
Moving Into the Theater Four to five days before the first performance, the sets, costumes and props are "loaded in" to the theater. There is a table in the middle of the orchestra-level seats for the stage manager, the director, and the designers. This serves as a central location for communicating with the singers and crew onstage, the conductor in the orchestra pit, and the technicians in the lighting booth and backstage.
Sitzprobe For the studio rehearsals opera companies use a skilled piano accompanist, but once the show moves into the theater, the performers will have a Sitzprobe rehearsal (a German word meaning to sit and try out.) The Sitzprobe is a "sing-through" with the orchestra and conductor, concentrating on the nuances of the music only, without staging. It is the first time that the orchestra and singers meet. Sitzprobe is for the singers and conductor to work out fine musical details before adding costumes, lights, and staging.
Piano Tech A piano tech rehearsal is held to give singers a chance to adapt to the set and lights. The rehearsal accompanist comes into the orchestra pit and plays the music when it is needed for the tech crew and singers. The conductor is also in the pit with the piano player to lead the singers and the chorus if needed. This rehearsal also gives the tech crew time to practice scene changes, synchronize lights with the music and plot, check communication devices, and bring all other technical elements together. Singers usually do not sing their difficult arias and other big music numbers to save time, and allow the tech crew to practice, and set up their equipment.
Orchestra Tech Finally, the orchestra tech rehearsal puts all the elements together: lighting, set changes, costumes, make-up, the orchestra, and the supertitles (if any). The time set aside for the orchestra tech is usually 1 hour more than the length of a show. The extra hour is needed in case if something goes wrong and the tech crew must stop the "run", go back and fix the problem.
Dress Rehearsal The dress rehearsal is basically a "preview" of the show with all tech elements, full cast, full orchestra and some audience. The director will stop the action if needed, but it is exceedingly rare and generally only for a technical malfunction on the stage. Like theatre, an opera dress rehearsal is the final chance before the performance to make an extremely complex collaboration come together seamlessly. During the final dress rehearsal, the audience may notice lighting changes as the designer makes final adjustments. Because of the strenuous nature of the singing, singers may choose to "mark" (sing half-voice) on the final dress rehearsal in order to preserve the vocal chords for the next day performance . Nevertheless, all of their acting and vocal expression will be at full power, with all the passion and conviction that opera requires. They are ready for their first audience, and excited to present their story and their music.