At the Opéra de Montréal, each production is allotted approximately three weeks of rehearsal time. The company rehearses in the rehearsal hall for two weeks, and then in the performance hall for one the last week. At the end of the first two weeks, readings are integrated with the orchestra only. Three three-hour rehearsal sessions are included in the rehearsal schedule. Each scene is broken down and the singers are required to rehearse up to six hours a day.
There are several special stages in the preparation of an opera, each of which has a specific name:
The first rehearsal on stage and with the set, accompanied by piano, in order to finalize technical points. It is the first time singers come into contact with the set and have the opportunity to work on their entrances and exits.
A rehearsal for the conductor, sometimes without the director. The goal of this stage is to fine-tune the acoustics, to make sure the conductor can be seen by all the singers, and to find the right balance between voices and orchestra. Singers are said to “run through” their parts, because they take up their positions on the stage vis-à-vis the conductor and orchestra.
A rehearsal with the orchestra that combines all elements of the performance, sequencing and even subtitles. This stage gives a fairly precise idea of how the production will look and sound.
A rehearsal including all elements (orchestra, accessories, costumes), held without interruption – just like the real thing!
The first public performance of the opera before an audience.