Opera is one of the most difficult art forms due to the excellency expected in every area of the performance. Traditionally, the music takes priory over the acting, direction and scenic design. For this reason, the musical director, conductor and orchestra start rehearsal a week or two before the director is brought in. (the opera director, unlike the theatre director is primarily responsible for where people are on stage and little else. Some directors like Robert Wilson have broken this convention and insisted on being a part of the entire process-- in return for making this bold move, the opera community has decided that such directors are "not really doing opera" and started referring to pieces such as Satyagraha and Einstein on the Beach as musicals. This is supposed to be an insult, but Philip Glass and Robert Wilson don't seem to care.) The sitzprobe is the first rehearsal where everyone is in attendance. The singers stand on stage and do not move. Whoever is singing stands center then they trade places as the opera progresses. The director watches and makes notes about when movement might be possible. Traditional opera singers hate to move. The best singing position is standing up with relaxed arms. The director must be careful to make note of the difficult portions of the opera and ensure that none of the staging has the singer kneeling or walking or doing some other difficult thing during an aria .

In the old days in Europe when opera was still new the sitzprobe was a rehearsal that the patron monarch of the theatre would attend to see how the show he sponsored was coming along. This tradition is continued to this day-- if you become an angel of your local opera (generally this involves donating $1,000 or $10,000 ) you will be invited to this rehearsal. If you would like to locate the director look for the unhappy person in the third row tugging on her hair.

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