Ariadne: finished, we begin.

Finished? But our opening night of Ariadne in Naxos at the Glimmerglass Festival is two days away. Why after the dress rehearsal am I talking about being finished?

I love this moment after the dress rehearsal, but not because all the work is done. We have come so far, the cast, the orchestra, the crew, me, the director, our support teams, and our work has reached a result in which we can take pride. Are there still things that can be sharpened, improved, made finer? Absolutely. And this is always the case with a work of art. Writing, painting, choreographing a dance, directing a play, tuning a series of chords, turning a phrase – there’s always something else to try, a corner to polish, a color to add or something to strip away. Much of the tension of the rehearsal process centers around this delicate dance. Where do you keep pushing, and what do you step back from and allow to settle?

I have no idea how creators without an opening night do it. Writers, painters, composers – so much of what they do is open ended. It must be maddening, having to decide on your own when to say yes, that’s it, I’ve finished my work. In the theater, thank the gods, we have our dates and times. Tickets have been sold and the public is coming at a certain time.

And so we must stop rehearsing. Not working – that we always do. But starting now, we move on to a different stage, learning the things we can only learn in real time, with people sitting and listening in our theater, reacting. In their silence and in their applause, we learn the real rhythm of our night. They are our great missing piece. We need them now to continue our work.

They will be different every night – but then of course, so will we.

I end this day with a joyous heart, and I can’t wait to see what happens.

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