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Jesse Hamm

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It's that time of year. [Sep. 22nd, 2010|06:46 pm]
Jesse Hamm
Opera time.

I was invited to attend the Portland Opera's dress rehearsal of Pagliacci and Carmina Burana on Monday night, along with about 20 other local artists, including several of my cohorts from Periscope Studio. A very bearded Shannon Wheeler was in attendance, and I met Matt Wagner for the first time, and caught up with some familiar faces. We were given a tasty reception at Morton's steakhouse, and a backstage tour at the opera, and then we all encamped in the front rows to sketch the performances.

The first performance was about a very sad clown named Pagliacci. (See here for a two minute clip of the most famous passage. The clown is lamenting his wife's infidelity, and the kid consoles him with a Coke. FYI, the performance I saw was staged sans cola, and, in a nod to Fellini's La Strada, the characters were all smartly dressed in Italian fashions of the 1950s.) The second performance, Carmina Burana, included that choral arrangement they play in movies like Excalibur and The Hunt For Red October, to let you know when major doings are afoot. Still powerful!

Our sketches of the evening will be exhibited at the theater and at the Portland Opera website. Those opera singers are an active bunch, so I was only able to capture a face or figure here and there, but several of my pals were able to sum the evening up beautifully in their drawings and comics. My sketches should appear there soon, too, or you can check them out right here...

(The sketch below is of Pagliacci singing that part I linked above. In purple is a translation of his words.)

After hearing such beautiful, stentorian tones ring from this singer's mouth for most of the evening, I was charmed to hear her tiny, human voice remark "Oops -- my bad!," after an error in choreography. One of the small delights of witnessing a dress rehearsal.

Several of the characters were seated along an apron of the stage, which I was told had been added to catch the many apples that would be thrown during performances. I was relieved to discover later that this apple throwing occurs only between performers, and is part of the act.

[User Picture]From: andrewfarago
2010-09-23 05:51 am (UTC)
Looks fun--and you got a steak dinner out of it, too, which is a real bonus.

I was surprised that you hadn't met Matt Wagner before. He's at WonderCon pretty regularly, and I think he's a Comic-Con fixture, too.

The ladies in the skirts are my favorite of these sketches, and were probably the most fun to draw, right?
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[User Picture]From: sirspamdalot
2010-09-23 01:48 pm (UTC)
Not so much dinner as appetizers and wine, but very tasty. Morton's apparently threw the party for us just to support the arts. Nice to see comics receive that kind of respect!

The ladies in skirts were fun to draw, but stressful, because their skirts would change drastically every time they shifted their weight. My sketchbook is full of false starts, where I'd see a good pose and draw three lines and then it would disappear forever. Sigh. I almost wish I brought a camera to capture the poses, but then that defeats the purpose of drawing from life.

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[User Picture]From: andrewfarago
2010-09-23 05:44 pm (UTC)
There's usually some fudging involved when doing life drawings of people who aren't deliberately posing for you. People getting on and off trains, shifting around in their seats, passersby suddenly stopping in front of you... I usually try to knock out a really basic gesture as fast as I can, filling in interesting details as I go. But yeah, trying to do that during a performance must have been brutal.
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[User Picture]From: erikamoen
2010-09-23 07:19 pm (UTC)
Wow, these look great, dude!
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[User Picture]From: killsmanygopher
2010-09-24 12:30 am (UTC)
'Laugh, clown' is my favorite xDDD Awesome work!!
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