An opera rehearsal is a complex process that ensures both the musical and dramatic elements of the production come together seamlessly. The rehearsal process is typically broken down into several parts or stages:
Piano Rehearsals: Before integrating with the full orchestra, singers rehearse with a pianist (often the repetiteur) who plays a reduction of the orchestral score.
Sitzprobe: This is the first rehearsal that brings together the singers and the orchestra. There's usually minimal or no staging; the focus is on blending the vocal and instrumental music.
Blocking Rehearsal: The director sets the movement and positioning of performers on stage, known as "blocking."
Character Development: Beyond movement, singers and the director work on the portrayal and evolution of their characters.
Stagger-Through: A rehearsal focused on integrating technical elements like set changes. Not always run in the order of the final performance.
Tech Rehearsal: This involves running through the opera with all technical elements like lighting, set changes, and special effects. The focus is on synchronizing cues and ensuring smooth transitions.
Dress Rehearsals: These are full run-throughs of the opera with all elements in place, including costumes, makeup, wigs, and any other final touches. Dress rehearsals aim to simulate the conditions of the actual performance as closely as possible.
Final Dress Rehearsal: This is the last rehearsal before the premiere. It's a complete run of the opera, often with an invited audience. Any last-minute adjustments or issues are noted and addressed after this rehearsal.
Notes Session: After many rehearsals, the director, conductor, or stage manager might give notes to the cast and crew. This is feedback about what needs to be adjusted or changed.
Orchestra Rehearsal (if not included earlier): In some cases, there might be separate rehearsals dedicated only to the orchestra to refine their interpretation of the score.
Special Rehearsals: For operas with complex choreography, dance rehearsals might be scheduled. Fight choreography, if there are battle scenes or duels, may require separate rehearsals with a fight director.The number and order of rehearsals can vary based on the opera's complexity, the production's needs, and the company's preferences. However, the general aim is to gradually integrate all elements so that by opening night, every aspect of the opera — music, drama, and technical — is unified and polished.