The main part of our J-term trip here in Tours is a two-week internship. This is really unique to our trip, because we are all doing something completely different and exciting for two weeks. My internship is at Le Grand Théâtre de Tours, which is the local opera house. I’ve been following the head stage manager for the past two weeks, and it’s been a really interesting experience.
The theatre has been preparing for the opera “La Cenerentola” (Cinderella) by Rossini. When I started my internship, they had only been preparing for two weeks, but they were already starting to put on the finishing touches. Most of the time at my internship, I simply watched rehearsals and it was great. It was so cool to see the conductor and the stage director work together to make the opera come to life. After a few days, the stage manager gave me a copy of the score, so I could follow along during rehearsals. I also worked backstage, alongside the stage manager. I would run errands for the stage director, record the duration of the opera each night and help with set changes. I also got to talk to a lot of different people working there, including the musicians.
It was really fun to help out with the opera, but I think that I learned the most from observing and asking questions. Before rehearsals, the stage director and I would be in her office, where we would do administrative things and prepare for rehearsals. During that time, I would ask her so many questions about the opera house, stage-managing, and music in France. I learned so much about the professional world of music, and how it is different in France versus the United States. I also observed my stage manager at work backstage giving cues, changing sets, and basically running the entire show from a different angle. It was so interesting to see the show and how things work from a different perspective.
Today was our final night in Tours and also the opening night of “La Cenerentola,” and our whole got seats on the highest level of the audience. The opera is in Italian, and had sub-titles in French. I was told that I was going to be working backstage again, but the stage manager surprised me with one of the best seats in the house, a place that is usually reserved for the directors! We were all excited to see a professional opera in a beautiful opera house, and I was excited to see the finished product of what my “coworkers” have been working on for the past month. I’ve gotten to know the musicians and the opera really well, and it was fun to see their personalities come out onstage.
The opera was fantastic, and we enjoyed the fun, silly scenes of a story we know so well, along with wonderful singing and musicianship. Even though most of us didn’t have the best seats, it was an enjoyable experience and a great way to end our time in Tours.