A Day in the Life of Semele Assistant Director James Blaszko

Mar 23, 2016

Working as assistant director on SEMELE puts me in direct communication with both Director James Darrah and the team at Opera Omaha. Being a part of the central nervous system of the production is exciting and rewarding, but also means that I am very busy attending to each piece of the puzzle. Here’s what a typical day during rehearsals is like:

8:00 a.m. – Morning Routine

I wake up and cook myself a large breakfast to begin the day. I am from New York City, and Opera Omaha provides me housing while here for rehearsals. I may review notes for the previous day’s rehearsals, double check rehearsal reports or work on projects of my own.

10:00 a.m. – Rehearsal Prep

Today I arrive at the Holland Performing Arts Center to prepare for our rehearsal with the dancers in our show. We rehearse here when working complicated dance sequences because the sprung, hardwood floors are better for the dancers’ joints. I meet with our Stage Manager who is already setting up the space.

10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m. – Dance Class/Rehearsal

Our dancers start the day by taking class, led by choreographer Gustavo Ramirez Sansaro. With Gustavo’s encouragement, I join in the warm up so I can stretch a bit too. By 11:30 a.m., James Darrah arrives and we begin working parts of the show. What excites me most about this production is the amount of movement that weaves through each scene. The character of Ino is sung offstage and portrayed by a dancer onstage, so today we focus on one of her first arias. I take notes in my production book for later reference.

12:30–1:30 p.m. – Lunch

James, Janice (our onstage Ino) and projections designer Adam grab lunch nearby at Culprit Café. I’ve really loved all the food here in Omaha. There are so many great places to eat!

1:30–5:00 p.m. – Staging Rehearsal

We return to rehearsal, this time with some of our principal singers. It is always exciting to watch the principals incorporate movement to their performances, and with a show like SEMELE they are constantly a part of the action. Today’s rehearsal is particularly fun because we are trying new lifts with Mary Feminear, our Semele.

5:00–7:00 p.m. – Dinner

I drive back to my housing to make myself dinner in our longer break. I find that cooking for myself is always a great way to shake off any stress from the day or just to have some quiet time alone.

7:00–10:00 p.m. – Chorus Rehearsal

Our chorus of twenty rehearses at Opera Omaha’s studio in the evenings, and tonight we are covering a lot of new material. As assistant director, I track their movement throughout the show and help fill in any singers who have missed a rehearsal. These nights are always great because we get to complete the pictures created during the day with the principals alone. Opera Omaha’s chorus is especially willing to try new things, and James empowers them to make their own discoveries throughout the show. We really have a lot of fun!

Today was a particularly long day, but full of new ideas for the production. There is a constant sense of play in James’ rehearsals, and I think this sentiment is what keeps everyone excited and charged about the piece. We have so much more to discover before moving to the theatre, and every day I wake up and can’t wait to see what happens next.

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