The Musical Arts Center is located in the middle of Indiana University’s campus on Jordan Avenue and hosts an array of preforming arts from opera, to ballet, to live concerts. This past month the MAC was home to Indiana University’s rendition of Don Giovanni, an Italian opera written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Glen Hall and a fellow actress in Don Giovanni get their makeup done a couple hours prior to taking the stage.
The makeup used for shows like these are typically plentiful and dramatic so the audience is able to read the faces of the actors and actresses.
Hall receives a few more touches to his dramatic look to fill the roll of antagonist Leporello.
All actors use wigs for shows like these to complete their dramatic look. Glen Hall’s wig for Leporello is in the middle.
Hall receives the finishing touches and fittings for his makeup and wig before heading to his dressing room.
Hall and Bruno Sandes, actor playing the part of Don Giovanni, receive gummy bears as a token of good luck from commentators, Peter Volpe.
Hall assists Sandes in some last minute costume adjustments before the show.
Don Giovanni conductor, Arthur Fagen, bids good luck to Glen Hall.
A piano sits in the corner of the dressing room ready for performers to play simple keys to warm up to.
Hall warms up is vocals with help from Kevin Murphy, Don Giovanni’s Harpsichord Continuo, just minutes before taking the stage as Leporello.
Hall came from the makeup chair to find multiple gifts and cards wishing him good luck in his dressing room from close friends and family.
The long, cold, limestone hall ways echoed with chatter, piano tunes, and vocalizing before I saw even one person. This was my first time in the basement of the Musical Arts Center I found myself dodging set hands running to make a deadline and apologizing as I poked my head into every wrong dressing room until I found what I was looking for.
Indiana University grad student Glen Hall, that’s what I was looking for. The bass-baritone sat up straight in a makeup chair surrounded by what looked like mounds of makeup. Sponges, brushes, and utensils I’ve never even seen before took over his face to create a dramatic look for the Opera stage. Hall was midway through his transformation to be made into the character of Leporello. Hall and his makeup artist continued to make fun of each other entertaining not only themselves but another actress getting her makeup done who let a laugh out every once in a while.
Halls makeup artist carefully fitted his wig, pinning it in all possible places to assure that there would be no malfunctions throughout the three-hour performance to come.
Don Giovanni is the first of nine shows that the Indiana University Opera and Ballet Theater will put on for the 2017/2018 season in the Musical Arts Center. Don Giovanni is an Italian opera written by none other than Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. “I had to go to grad school here, IU puts on the best productions and you have to be a student to preform at the MAC.” Hall is a graduate student through Jacobs School of Music and currently working on his Master in Vocal Performance.
We walked down those dark limestone halls into a dressing room for the male performers that was full of good luck gifts for the actors after being done in the makeup chair. Hall took a seat to sort thought the goodies and opened every card carefully and read them with a smile. He popped a Ricola in his mouth and sat back laughing at every card he read. His favorite was a card from his roommate with “you’re the best” printed on the front of the stationary with “the best” crossed out and replaces with “ok”. Hall laughed at every line his roommate wrote then neatly put his cards away and began to get in costume.
Don Giovanni is based in the 17th century and the costumes fit accordingly. Hall slipped riding boots on over his replica riding pants and snapped his suspenders over his shoulders before finishing the look with a vest. As he got ready he left the door open and greeted nearly every person that came by “the opera community here isn’t all that big, we’ve either performed with each other, had classes, know of each other, or have seen each other perform. There are a couple hundred Vocal Performance majors here” Hall said.
Hall’s counter part of Don Giovanni, played by Bruno Sandes, came into the dressing room with a big smile and huge energy. Hall and Sandes embraced with an excited hug since they could not contain their excitement for the show that was starting soon. Shortly after Sandes’ arrival, Peter Volpe, the Commendatore, came down the hall with a shopping bag full of Haribo Gummy bears and tossed a bag to both Hall and Sandes “bring these on sage with you” Volpe said “they’re supposed to help your throat so you don’t dry up. Toy, toy, toy.”
“Toy, toy, toy” was a phrase I kept hearing so I finally had to ask Glen what in the world it meant. “Toy, toy, toy is a way of saying good luck in the opera world” Hall told me, “like break a leg in dance; toy, toy, toy has been around forever. Way back when opera practically began, actors would spit over each other’s shoulders three times to keep the demons away but throughout the years its just turned into the sound ‘toy’”.
Hall and Sandes continued to talk, laugh, and harmonize with one another as they waited to take the stage for their opening night. Arthur Fagen, the Conductor of the live orchestra that would play for Don Giovanni, paid the actors a visit. Fagen wished the guys toy, toy, toy and asked Hall how he was feeling considering he lost his voice due to illness just days before. After Hall assured Fagen he would be ready, Fagen smiled, nodded his head, and continued his rounds.
Hall sat down at the lone piano in the corner of his dressing room and played a simple tune just to warm his vocals up. His baritone voice shook the room despite the fact he had no voice just a couple days prior. “It’s opera so we don’t get mic’ed up, our voice has to reach the entire audience naturally and all by itself” Hall told me “I’d like to keep a Ricola in my mouth but I’m afraid I’d accidentally spit it out.” He told me as he made himself laugh from the comment.
The PA system echoed through the basement of the MAC giving timed warnings to the talent. It was just minutes before they were to take the stage to entertain a full house. Kevin Murphy ran into Glen’s dressing room with sheet music in hand “ready?” was the only thing the Harpsichord Continuo said to Hall as he took to they keys. Hall immediately began to sing at full throttle to the tune that was being played on the piano. As Murphy corrected Hall he seemed to be thrilled with Hall’s warm up. Murphy gave Hall a firm pat on the back “I know you’re ready, you know what to do. Toy, toy, toy” he said as he left the room just as fast as he came in.
“Talent please make your way to the stage” boomed from the PA system. “Toy, toy, toy” I said to Glen with a smile as he grabbed his coat and one last cough drop as he ran for the door.