Coming in hot, and rather immediately, because this one is cool.
Last night, I was invited by Cincinnati Opera to have an all access backstage sneak peek of Another Brick in the Wall, an opera based on Pink Floyd’s 1979 album The Wall. Of all the opportunities I’ve had, this one was a pretty exciting one.
First of all, I learned so many things. For one (and this exposes how uncultured I am) I learned that operas are not mic’d. There is no amplification system whatsoever, so the singers are projecting themselves above the orchestra, all the way to the last row. That alone blew my mind and was something I was constantly thinking about during the performance. Second, Cincinnati Opera is the second oldest opera company in the country, behind The Met. Then if those facts weren’t enough, this opera, Another Brick in the Wall, is making its U.S. premiere in Cincinnati, having only ever debuted and performed in Montreal. Put that all together and you can see why I would call this a “pretty exciting one.”
Kenny and I (as well as Preeti and her sister Pallu) arrived at the stage door an hour and half before the dress rehearsal in order to get a tour of all things behind the scenes. We were taken through the costume department, the make up rooms, the dressing rooms, all around backstage, around the set design workshop, and throughout the practice rooms…you name it, we popped through it. We were also given access to the auditorium as things were being set, as well as being shown through the newly renovated Corbett Tower. Being able to see and access Music Hall in this way made me truly understand the importance of this institution and this building.
Now we were only invited to stay for the first act of the dress rehearsal, as this was something only open to a small group of media and donors. Looking around, I’d say there were maybe 30-40 people there total, all sitting in one section of the first balcony. That too added to the excitement because it felt like we were simply looking in on something that we wouldn’t have otherwise.
And now the show itself was wild. Had I not been given context and details about the story from our tour, I would have missed the importance of so many scenes. The story itself can be followed, as this is a rare opera performed in English (another fact I learned, as most are not) however having an understanding of some of the real life details of Pink Floyd’s story, I had a better handle on what I was experiencing. But even beyond the context and the story, there was so much to be stimulated by. There were enormous walls with digital projections running throughout, there was a huge cast who was often all on stage at the same time, and then there was an extensive amount of costume and set changes that kept it all moving. Throughout it all, my eyes were constantly darting from one thing to the next, all the while working to take it in as a whole. And nevertheless it was impressive.
And what needs to be made clear is that this is an opera. This is not a rock opera, this is not an orchestra performing Pink Floyd’s music, this is an opera in all its glory. It is semi-autobiographical, alluding to Pink Floyd’s music, lyrics, and life, but in the end it is, of course, an opera. This is definitely the first opera I have ever really seen, and it is absolutely an exciting one to experience.
Again, I am beyond excited to have had the opportunity to check out both this opera and everything going on behind the Music Hall scenes before the show officially opens to the public. Another Brick in the Wall is running July 20, 21, 26, 28, and 31, and you can find tickets here.
Thanks again for the opportunity Cincinnati Opera – it was definitely a cool one!