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Inside Einstein on the Beach: Guest Blog by Lindsay Kesselman

By Lindsay Kesselman

Editor’s Note: Lindsay Kesselman will sing with the Phillip Glass Ensemble for the duration of the 2012-2013 international tour of Einstein on the Beach. She’ll also be guest blogging on umsLOBBY.

Photo: At rehearsal with Robert Wilson. Photo by: Einstein Assistant Director Ann-Christin Rommen.

Excitement is brewing this week in Ann Arbor and seems about ready to burst.  Einstein on the Beach is officially beginning again, for the first time in twenty years, and after much anticipation….today.  All of our preview performances this weekend are sold out, and we’ve been told that people are coming from 30 different states to see what we have created.  The thought is thrilling, humbling, and sobering all at once.

After spending these last two weeks in intensive technical rehearsals, we are becoming the people we’ve read about, seen in photographs, and admired in videos from previous productions of this miraculous piece.  You can recognize us by our crisply pressed white shirts, tell-tale black suspenders, indispensable converse shoes, and unmistakably whitened faces.  And we now know first-hand what to expect from the legendary Robert Wilson’s lighting rehearsals.

Each day we spend approximately 12 hours at the theater, in full costume and make-up, and though our hours are long and grueling, our amazing stage crew works seemingly non-stop, arriving before us and leaving after us, to ensure smooth rehearsals the following day.  We are so grateful for them and absolutely couldn’t do anything without them.

The last two weeks have been spent going over every moment in every scene with a fine-toothed comb, so that Bob could light every hand, face, prop, and set piece with remarkable precision, artistry, and eye for detail.  The lighting for this opera is breathtakingly beautiful and unlike anything I have ever seen or could possibly imagine.  There are so many moments I wish I could see from the audiences’ perspective!

The process of working with Bob has been completely awe-inspiring, and I feel the power he exudes every time he enters a room. He is a director whose vision is perfectly clear at all times, and the passion and dedication he brings to his work transforms everyone around him.

In these rehearsals we have learned to think as a group, rely on each other, trust ourselves, and discover hidden reserves of energy we didn’t know existed.  We have learned and memorized the music, we have embraced the new style of movement and commanding attention on the stage, and we are ready to accept the torch and make this piece our own in the coming days, weeks, and months.

In moments when we have not been needed on stage, we could be found obsessively chanting numbers, reviewing memory with our dozens of flash cards, inspecting our make-up in hopes of one day being able to re-create the beautiful work done by Luc and Cory, and stuffing our faces with the (much-appreciated) food and drink provided by UMS to keep our strength up during these long days.

Today we assume the responsibility and utter joy of becoming the new Einstein cast, and it is our honor to share this remarkable work with you.  I am personally so grateful that our journey begins here and cannot wait for you to see what we’ve been up to!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lindsay Kesselman is an emerging American soprano, who passionately advocates for contemporary music in America, actively commissioning and collaborating with a diverse array of composers. In 2011 she performed Joseph Schwantner's "Sparrows," as well as premieres by Kieren MacMillan, with the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble. Upcoming performances include a recital tour of Abbie Betinis’ song cycle “Nattsanger” to universities in Texas and Oklahoma, the music of Michael Ippolito in recital at the Greenwich House in New York, and several compositions by Amy Kirsten at Roosevelt University in Chicago with members of eighth blackbird and Third Coast Percussion. Kesselman holds degrees in voice performance from Michigan State University and Rice University.

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