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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Letter From Mr.Lamanna

Hello Everyone,

On Monday afternoon, I wrote a letter to all of you. I'm going to make hard copies of this letter, sign them, and mail them to Dr. Lazarova to hand out, so that you each have your own copy.

I didn't want you to have to wait to receive it, however, so I'm posting it here. 

Please share this with your parents.
Mr. Lamanna

April 16, 2012  1:30-3:40pm

Dear Cast,

I'm sitting at my desk thinking of all of you, feeling full as I "take in" how rich the past twelve weeks have been. Last summer, my friend, Maria (Dr. Lazarova) gave me a great gift when she called and asked if I'd like to direct an opera at OCHSA. How fortunate I feel today. 

Twelve weeks ago, we began rehearsing Dido & Aeneas. Starting with energizing our consonants, grounding our feet, using our body's energy, and singing full out. Then going to the end of the breathe, seeking the joy of expressing ourselves – and thereby seeking the joy of singing, in using words, in moving, dancing, feeling. Pretty soon, we were finding our intentions, mapping out scenes, adding movement. Runthroughs followed. Soon after, we got to dress rehearsal, when you had to do it onstage without any prompting from me. You took responsibility, and I got to sit and "take in" all that was happening onstage. The result of our work was a Dido & Aeneas that was dynamically thrilling and deeply moving.  

There were moments in each performance where I would watch each and every one of you. Your hands and arms said so much. You were fully involved, fully present, fully expressing. That includes your gorgeous singing. It's impossible to say the word "expressing", now, without meaning BOTH-physically-AND-vocally. Because at this point, expressively singing and expressively moving are so intricately woven that there's no separation between them. Wow! No director could ever ask for more than what you gave. 

It was a pleasure to work with every single one of you – I loved every minute of it. You gave me more than I can possibly tell you. The light that comes through your eyes, and voices, and every pore of your being. Your commitment to excellence, beautiful to behold, inspired me on days when I was feeling tired. Over these next few weeks it's going to be difficult to remember that I'm not supposed to grab a cup of coffee and get in my car and drive to OCHSA. I will miss seeing you every day, and boy-oh-boy do I hope to work with you again.

Maria Lazarova, thank you for inviting me to direct the show, as well as for your loving friendship. Your passion, vision, commitment, and talent are wondrous to behold, and you made this show possible. Your students are the most fortunate people in the world. What I would have given to have a "you" in my life when I was their age. You're a great teacher and a beautiful human being. You give so much to everyone.

Lukas Swidzinski, you conducted the singers with real beauty, and led by your sensitive continuo playing, conducted-and-rendered exquisite playing by your impressive chamber orchestra. The singers are so fortunate to work with you every day. You give so much to everyone. Thank you for your friendship.

There are so many people to thank: Captain Kevin Cook for his overseeing and for the million things he does; Kate Lubetkin, our production manager who got it all done and made it look easy; Natalie Miller for her beautiful playspace; Shawn Fidler for his expressive lighting; Brenda Smith for her costumes and tireless coordination of them; our stage managers, spotlight operators, and crew, that made the technical end of the production run smoothly, effortlessly, and seamlessly (without them, nothing gets finished); Cynthia Karim for her makeup and hair; our backstage volunteers who made sure you were all ready to go each performance; the volunteers (parents and friends) who meet, greet, hand out programs, sell concessions, usher in latecomers, etc. A production takes a village, and everyone matters. Don't forget to cultivate gratitude for all the people working with you and around you.

Thank you Penelope and Ashley, for your enormous contributions. You were tireless, and your work was done quietly without a lot of fanfare. I am enormously grateful. The paragraph that follows is for the two of you as well.

Finally, I want to thank the cast. Thank you for honoring me with your trust, and for trusting the process we shared together. Thank you for believing in me, and for believing in yourselves. Your parents and teachers all want for you to believe fully and deeply in yourselves and in those around you. Nobody does anything alone. Together, we built something beautiful – something we shared with many other people, and something we will take with us and never forget. I am more moved than I can say.

From the bottom of my heart, 
With much love,
Mark Lamanna

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