I think that it's about time that I get to the nitty-gritty of what things were like for me in terms of rehearsal schedule and working environment for the 5 weeks that I spent in Bad Orb, don't you? And for those of you who have insatiable curiosity about these sorts of things, if I haven't answered all of your questions by the end of this post, feel free to leave your questions below in the comments section. Therefore, on to the crux of the matter!
The rehearsal schedule that I experienced in Bad Orb, Germany while I was working on the role of Rosine in Der Barbier von Sevilla was quite unlike anything that I had heretofore experienced in America. Of course we did the same sorts of things during rehearsals (staging, musical rehearsing, tightening up ensemble singing, acting, etc..) but we did it at totally different times than what I am used to from the programs in which I had previously take part in the states. To be more specific, here was a normal day's schedule for me over the course of rehearsals:
7:30am- wake up, shower, do yoga, eat breakfast (usually muesli with ricemilk and a banana), get dressed and pack up bookbag.
9:15am- get on bike and ride to Opera house.
9:45am- arrive at Opera house, park and lock up bike, head to dressing room with piano to warm up vocally.
10:00am- Rehearsal starts with staging and music combined (normally it would begin anywhere from 5-10 minutes late depending on when everyone else showed up)
11:30am-Break (normally 10 minutes long, and normally accompanied by a piece of cake which one of the lovely women from the Foerderkreis baked for us, and coffee for many of my cast-members)
1:00pm- LUNCH (Many of my colleagues and most often the Stage Director and the Conductor went to a nearby Hospital which provided a reduced-cost lunch for us performers because the head of the Hospital is also a member of the Foerderkreis from the Opernakademie, therefore he helps us artists out where he can- super nice guy! Normally, however, I stayed in the Opera house during lunch break, ate a sandwich and some fruit or pretzels that I packed the night before, and read a book or practiced the things on stage that I had not gotten 100% correct from that morning's rehearsal period. That's the good thing about being alone in a theater- no one disturbs you- and you can try out the stage, props, and acoustics as much as you want without feeling rushed. Also during the break usually around 2pm the Buehnenbildner (Set Designer) and the stagehands came to work on finishing the set (painting, drilling, nailing, building stairs, attaching doors, etc..) so that was great because I got to know them better and figure out exactly how the set goes together and work on opening and closing the shuttered doors that were attached to my balcony for the first Act.)
4:00pm- Rehearsal starts again with more staging (although depending on who was called in the last two weeks, not everyone was required to be there right at 4pm)
8:00pm- Rehearsal finishes
8:30pm- arrive back at host family house, put bike away, unpack bookbag, wash lunch tupperware, make dinner
9:00pm- Eat dinner
9:45/10:00pm- Check email/call family & friends/look over notes in score from today's second rehearsal period and memorize changes
11:00pm- set out clothes for tomorrow, read a bit
11:30pm- go to bed
Therefore, as you can see from this schedule above, it's certainly not at all like what I am used to in the USA in terms of how rehearsal times are scheduled. Though, on the bright side, it does give you a lot of time during the majority of the day to really focus on your personal improvement of your role.
I noticed that my colleagues tended to use the time after lunch and before 4pm to practice privately, go over staging, memorize words, or coach with the Assistant Musical Director on things that they didn't do correctly in rehearsal time. That way, unlike in the USA, you are practically forced to spend 3/4 of your day (from 7:30am til 8pm) doing some sort of practice for your role. Which, if you are a typical European person (let's face it- they take more time to enjoy life than we Americans do, a.k.a. "breaks") then this schedule might help to light a fire under your butt, and if you're American (because we normally are overprepared and quasi-neurotic in the first place) then you simply have extra time to polish your characterization, get to know your colleagues better, or explore the town or city in which you happen to be rehearsing the show.
[I confess, I did get a lot of reading done in the breaks (since it would have been impossible to sing during the entire break time and then sing later that same day too after having already rehearsed that same morning). I am happy to report that I finished Anna Karenina there (it's over 1,000 pages!) and half of Jane Austen's 'Northanger Abbey' (...otherwise I would have certainly spent my time blogging if the Opera house had wireless internet and I had one of those wireless internet devices....of course).]