One of the best things with opera or musical theater is that people agree on a common frame, a common »timeline,« even if they never met before. The music and the words are written down and provide security and commitment. Therefore, the moment when two (or more) people meet who have studied the same music and perform it together for the first time is full of excitement: Both know the music, but neither knows what the other part has »made out of it,« what he or she has added to the music itself. So it is first of all an intense listening experience and then, when the piece is being sung for the second or third time, a delicate game with the aim of coming together eventually in one glorious musical event.
Speaking less generally and more about this production: nothing is like that. There is no security, no fallback or backup, no conductor, no orchestra – in the end, not even the usual piano playing along with us. Lisa and I were completely lost when rehearsing our duet for the first time. This is both a stress test and a lesson for life. It is not only the possibility but the obligation to be more creative with our voices and rely less on the music itself. There is much freedom in this production, and while this is usually something artists like, I am catching myself
in the act of being afraid and hesitating. Freedom can be suffocating if you are not used to drawing the lines by yourself. I have been improvising a lot with my voice, with instruments I used to play or while dancing. But this time, everything is more insecure. Maybe, though, this is exactly the correct way to approach the general theme of this special form of musical theater: piercing through my own insecurity, the words, and the meaning that really matter come through. Everything else can and will be discarded.