“Super” girl: Diary of an Opera Extra (Part 3)

Part 1
Part 2

Opening night went by way too quickly in a blur of candy and baked goods; apparently, it’s common to exchange opening night gifts. One super, Julie Ann, bought us gourmet chocolate bars; Alan gave us individual bags of chocolate chip cookies; Thomas baked muffins; and Michael, the conductor, gave everyone enormous cookies the size of our faces. I had put together bags of candy for my co-supers the night before, thanking God for Party City’s cheap candy bins providing my last-minute gifts. Between the sugar highs and opening night adrenaline, the energy from everyone was palpable as we took our places for the first act.

Being on the Ordway stage, facing a full house, was easily one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. Hearing all of the laughter and applause, even if it wasn’t directed at me, was exhilarating. I beamed out at the audience during the bows, still in shock that I was a part of something this big and beautiful. If you had told me in high school that the next time I’d be on stage would be at the Ordway, I never would have believed you. It was one of the most wonderfully surreal experiences of my life.

All of the shows went without a hitch, save for Thursday, when there was some confusion over when curtain was supposed to fall after the bows and it nearly landed on the principals. I was also lucky enough to have friends and family in the audience three out of the four performances. Most of them enjoyed the show, although my dad determined opera wasn’t really for him (he couldn’t understand why Ariadne was “running away with Jesus”). Still, I was grateful that he, and everyone else, came at all, considering all I really did was walk across the stage a couple times and sat at a table for an hour and a half; I may have had a tiny role, but my family and friends made me feel like a star.

And now it’s over, and I’m a little heartbroken, because I’m not ready to be done. I can’t imagine going a week without getting chills from Erin’s absolutely stunning rendition of “Als ein Gott kam Jeder Gegangen,” (anyone who can hit notes that high while rolling around on top of a piano and make it seem effortless is a complete badass); without being inches away from Andrew, Benjamin, Brad, and David’s hilarious antics and listening to their flawless voices blend perfectly (and accepting the fact that the adorable earworm “Es Gilt, ob Tanzen, ob Singen Tauge” will be stuck in my head for the rest of my life); without Amber and Brian taking my breath away with their rich, full voices, more explosive and thrilling than the fireworks projected behind them at the end of the show; without occasionally glancing into the orchestra pit to see Michael conducting, maniacally waving his arms like a freaking sorcerer, which he basically is, because the music coming out of there is nothing short of magical.

I’m especially going to miss my fellow supers. I’ll miss Austin, Maddy, and Thomas’s boundless, infectious energy, trying to stifle giggles in the wings before our first act entrance. I’ll miss Emily’s razor-sharp sense of humor, from her deadpan observations of the performances to her over-the-top impressions of her grandmother. I’ll miss Julie Ann, Katie, and Stephen’s genuine warmth and kindness, all eager to share their experiences with a newbie like me. I’m going to miss everyone I was lucky enough to get to know this past month. In such an unfamiliar situation, I could have felt so lost and alone and uncomfortable, but everyone I worked with was so friendly and welcoming that it made an already incredible opportunity even more enjoyable.

Hopefully, this won’t be the last time I get to do this. From what I’ve been told, Super opportunities for women are few and far between, since a lot of the parts are things like guards and soldiers and other typically male roles, but I’m still optimistic. The Minnesota Opera is performing Tosca later this season, which has a big crowd scene at one point, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they’ll consider me for that now that I have one show under my belt.  As an opera fan, getting to do something like this, being immersed in this incredible process, isn’t something I can do just once. I don’t care if I’m just an unnamed character in a huge group, a background piece to the real talent, because even then, I feel like a rock star. I feel beautiful. I feel super.

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