Prince of Players (April 2017)
Prince of Players by Carlisle Floyd was the second mainstage opera presented at Florida State, in a season which also included Verdi's La traviata and student projects by Josh Baerwald (The Process) and Noah Nethery (Charmed Rock). Floyd has tangible connections to FSU, as he was once a teacher there and later premiered his most enduring opera Susannah. Florida State's production of Prince of Players was the first collegiate production of the opera, nearly one year after the premiere at the Houston Grand Opera in 2016.
I served as the assistant director for this project, and identified one key area of concentration where I could make a material impact. Peter Harrison's set design was highly modular, but retained a cohesive appearance from scene to scene. In order to help scenes differentiate themselves, I believe the chorus played an important role in differentiating the tone of the opera from scene to scene. In one context, the chorus serves as mild-mannered courtiers, in the next they portray rowdy pub theater attendees. It was crucial that they defined the tone in order to the augment the work done by costumes, lighting, set design, and wigs and makeup.
Therefore, we often did an exercise I called the magic door; I'm not aware of any other similar exercises. I set up a door in rear, right side of the room and asked the group to walk through it, one-by-one as if they were entering the specific area mentioned. This helped the chorus create quick references for tone, physicality, gait, reactions, and all of the necessary acting tools to quickly establish the scene's societal norms. I believe this was a large reason why the chorus scenes stood out in Prince of Players, and gave Matthew Lata more time to worry about principal performances.
Towards the end of our tech week, I was assigned to sit through the show with the WFSU film director and guide her through the important moments in the opera. This recording may be available based on your location, but it was an interesting process to help determine how the opera would appear on film.
Prince of Players: Performance/Production Credits
Produced by: Florida State Opera
Director: Matthew Lata
Music Director: Douglas Fisher
Set Designer: Peter Harrison
Lighting Designer: Ken Yunker
Costume Designer: Christina Marullo
Wigs & Makeup Designer: Necole Bluhm
Stage Manager: Madeleine Broseh
Assistant Director: Matt Cooksey
Edward Kynaston: James Schmid & Alex Elliott
Margaret Hughes: Holly Curtis & Lauren Feider
King Charles II: Anthony Ciaramitaro
Nell Gwynn: Stephanie Holladay & Stephanie Lai
Thomas Betterton: Timothy Wilt
Duke of Buckingham: Devin Eatmon
Sir Charles Sedley: Gabriel Hernandez
Mistress Revels: Kaitlin Zardetto-Smith
Lady Meresvale: Emily Howes
Miss Frayne: Juliet Powar
Hyde: Titus Muzi
Stage Hand: Samuel Mathis
Emilia: Luke Barnard & Erika Vasallo