Einspringen (Jump-ins): What you NEED to know

EINSPRINGEN (Jump-ins) are a whirlwind an you’ll need good nerves to deal with it. There are basically two types: one where you arrive and perform the same day, and the other, more planned version, where you rehearse a few days before the show. The 2nd kind of Einspringen used to be much more common than it is today, and theaters used it to really get to know an artist as a potential guest or ensemble member.

Remembering a few important items will take you a long way…

BE NICE: your colleagues onstage and almost everybody in the theater want you to succeed. Let them help you.

KNOW WHAT YOU NEED: If it’s a comfortable pair of shoes or good sight lines to the conductor make sure you get that organized.

SING WELL: under all kinds of conditions.

KNOW THE IMPORTANT PLACES IN THE MUSIC AND GET THEM RIGHT: Understand when to lead and when to follow the conductor. There are places where the orchestra is waiting for you and there are places where you have to follow them because of what ’s happening in the opera score. Make sure you are communicating clearly. Your job is to be both a dynamic performer and star, as well as a good colleague!

WATCH/REQUEST THE ARCHIVAL VIDEO of the dress rehearsal or premiere many times. The opera company will often send it to you for download. This will help you see and hear things from the audiences/directors perspective that you can’t get any other way.

COSTUME AND TECH PEOPLE ARE YOUR FRIENDS: let them help and make sure their work will make things easier for you. If you have to take a piece of costume off onstage, practice with it before the performance and make sure it’s easy!

GET TO KNOW YOUR SURROUNDINGS & WHAT PROPS YOU NEED AND WHERE TO GET THEM: If it’s an assistant with a small flashlight for an exit or a dark set of stairs, don’t be shy! ask for it. Watch out for props! If you’re playing Calaf in Turandot, know where the Gong is! If it’s Pagliacci be careful about which pocket the knife or gun is in! It’s those little things that become very embarassing if not properly handled.

IMPROVISE: Last of all, improvise when you need to and act like it was meant to be! Something will almost always go wrong!

Einspring were a big part of my career in the 90’s and 2000’s and I got the routine down pat…Pförner (stage door entrance), KBB (administrative offices), Costume shop (costume fitting), Assistant Director who takes you through the video or even rehearses with you and some cast members. Then a quick rehearsal with the conductor…called a Verständigungsprobe, mostly for tempi (they’re never quite the same in every performance!) and coordinating tricky musical places.

If you have the right temperament it’s good money, good experience and a way to get known for a signature role. 

Toi toi toi!

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