We open the show tomorrow. It is absolutely amazing and wouldn't be so with out the hard work of our artists. Meet Dancer Liam Saito, who is one of the many hardworking artists that make Orpheus and Euridice so special.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am 19 years old, and am a dancer in the Aspirant program at Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet, where I am training to be a professional Ballet Dancer. I was raised in Massachusetts, and moved to Winnipeg when I was 15 years old after being offered a scholarship to attend the Professional Division full time program which offers immersive and Intensive training for young dancers.
What was appealing to you about coming to Vermont to dance for VTOP?
When I heard about the opportunity to dance in Orpheus and Euridice, I was very excited to be a part of it, since not only am I always looking for professional opportunities but, it was a chance to dance in an opera (something I have never done before), and also perform so close to home. My Mother grew up in Castleton Vermont, and my grandparents still live there, so I have a connection to the area and have enjoyed spending time here this summer!
What is your favorite ballet?
One of my favorite pieces of music of all time is the entire score of the Ballet Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev. It is so beautiful and cohesive throughout, and watching that Ballet and listening to that music as a child truly brought out my passion for dance and music.
Opening night is approaching quickly! And tickets are going just as quickly.
As of Friday, our tickets will only be available on our website (VTOperaProject.com/tickets) or at the door at the Marble Museum. Our box office at the Marble Museum will open at 5 pm and we will accept cash, check, or credit card. Tickets are $45 at the door. There will be a $2 processing fee for credit cards.
We can't wait to see you all there.
PS. Here is my favorite rehearsal photo of Wesley and Suzanne.
The role of Orpheus is played Clarinetist Wesley Christensen rather than sung. We caught up with him to talk about how he is balancing playing the clarinet with the demands of staging a lead role in the opera.
What is the typical role of a clarinetist in an opera?
Typically a clarinetist's role in an opera is to play in the pit orchestra. However, in this opera the clarinetist is the lead character, which requires being on stage, acting, dancing, and performing the music from memory.
At times I have found it difficult finding a way to interact with the characters and physical surroundings on stage while at the same time maintaining focus on the music. Acting while playing can be a challenge, because you can not speak or communicate through hand gestures or facial expressions. Running while playing is very difficult, I've tried it, and I wouldn't recommend it.
While demanding, I have also found this to be a very rewarding experience. This role pushes the boundaries of the clarinet and what is possible for an instrumentalist. I've learned to not just play the notes but to sing them and in that way I feel that the music that I'm playing is my voice flowing through the clarinet. This opera offers a new way for an instrumentalist to interact with the audience. I'm not just playing a concerto on stage standing in one spot, I'm moving around, interacting with others, and conveying a story.
How did you get started playing the Clarinet?
When I was 10 years old I ventured into the attic and found a funny looking black box. I opened it and found something that had strange metal keys. It turned out to be my mom's clarinet that she used in high school. I started taking lesson at school and immediately fell in love with it. I've been playing ever since.
What do you do when you are not playing Orpheus?
I live in Waterbury, VT. I am a freelance clarinetist in the area and I am on the faculty of the Monteverdi Music School in Montpelier, VT.
Zoe is a familiar face to many in the Rutland Region as a dancer, teacher, and sculptor. We are so excited to have her join us for Orpheus and Euridice.
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
I live in Sudbury, VT (originally Hubbardton) and work as a dancer, choreographer, sculptor, and dance/art teacher. During the school-year I teach dance at a local dance studio, in summer I run art camps for kids, and in the in-between times I lead workshops in art and dance at local rec centers, libraries, and schools, choreograph for local theater companies, and work on my own choreography and artwork when I can. A lot of my time and energy is also currently devoted to raising my very busy 3-year-old daughter!
What is excites you about VTOP's production of Orpheus?
I am very excited by the site-specific aspect of this performance. I am interested in site-specific art, particularly dance, in my own work and have thoroughly enjoyed the beauty and challenges of all the site-specific projects of which I've been a part. I have danced on the concrete platform of a bridge crane, on the edge of a granite quarry (including on a platform installed just below the surface of the water), in a breeding barn, on the roof of a cow barn, as well as many other farm locations, and multiple sites around the Carving Studio and Sculpture Center, located on the grounds of West Rutland's former marble quarry. I am excited by the rawness and rich history of the Vermont Marble Museum space! I am also thrilled to be dancing in an opera, something I have never done before!
What are some of your favorite musicals or dance companies?
Some favorite shows include Rent, Les Misérables, Hair, and Cats. I have always and will always love and be inspired by the work of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Beyond this there are way too many to list!
How did you get your start as a dancer?
I started dancing at age 7. I took predominantly ballet from then through high school, but was also introduced to modern dance in 6th grade and fell in love. I switched to predominantly modern in college and have stuck with it ever since! I graduated from Smith College with a double major in dance and sculpture. I love sharing my passion for this art form with my students and audiences.