October 11, 2010
I walked in to this late last week.
they're the gingerbread children for hansel & gretel, which began rehearsals today. that's right -- gingerbread children. not how you used to bake them, are they? I like to just call them "the children." I love how perfectly horrifying they are.
it's been a tough time for me in opera land. the parts for the opera are in our library, but although I knew they were heavily marked and quite old, I had no idea the extent of the damage they have taken over the years. we have not done this opera since 1992, but it looks as though the parts have been rented out since then and were last used in some sort of excerpt concert.
each part had about 25 cuts marked, all of them in heavy pencil.
some of them in red pencil, which we only use when we don't want something to be easily eraseable. the edges of many parts were yellowed with age. the piccolo part had sustained water damage.
even in its original state, the music must have left much to be desired. the oboe part was clearly photocopied from an original master by the publisher:
and contrary to the norm, the parts that were in the worst shape were the wind parts. usually it's the strings you have to contend with; they are constantly marked and erased as bowings are added or modified, and so the paper takes a beating, and sometimes the ink does too. however, for no obvious reason, our wind parts were just awful. they were marked to the hilt, and in many cases -- piccolo, horn iv, trombones, timpani, & harp were the worst -- the ink job had faded to an unacceptable degree. like, the staff lines were missing.
there's no glare on that photo. the staff lines in the harp part were virtually non-existent. I could have ordered new versions of these parts (and in fact in two cases I will) but because I have no intention of keeping the set, there's no use in buying a smattering of wind parts. what do you do instead? you take a ruler and a pen -- ballpoint in this case, because all your nicer ink runs on this paper -- and you re-ink.
doesn't that look like fun.
the parts were just set out this morning, a week beyond when I normally set them out. the orchestra, accustomed to having their music three weeks before their first rehearsal, began frothing at the mouth sometime around tuesday afternoon and badgered me so persistently that I refused to answer my phone on wednesday, knowing that if I answered every call that came in I very sincerely would probably spend at least an hour on the phone. a precious hour of marking bowings and re-inking music. needless to say, they're happy to be picking their parts up today, and I am happy to have them out, although I still have 6 parts to mark: I ran out of time and opted to give two of the string sections practice parts until I could finish their "real" ones.
did you know that a very real hazard of doing nothing but pencilling and erasing parts for 2-3 weeks is that you vaguely lose feeling in your fingertips from holding the pencil for so long? I am not kidding.