LaGuardia's Opera, La Belle Helene. When did you last fall in love?
Right now, I am finishing my auditions to conservatories because I am senior at LaGuardia HS. I knew the experience of the LaG opera would help guide me, improve my confidence, and allow me to practice what itʼs like to be on a real stage. But what I found is why I fell in love with opera in the first place. Even through the constant singing and exaggerations, opera has a way of connecting to others by touching upon reality. I can always find myself within any character and learn from them. Helen has helped me accept my future: to work hard and fight for what I want, but allow fate to decide the rest. I have studied meticulously and focused on pursuing my dreams, now I can only hope that the right school acknowledges my talents. I refuse to allow a rejection letter or a flawed audition to determine my worth. I feel blessed that it has been my fate, my destiny to have worked on this amazing production!
“Itʼs my fate, my destiny!” A line that is repeated a copious amount of times in Offenbachʼs operetta La Belle Helene. Playing the role of Helen means playing the role of a comically egotistical queen whose beauty “overwhelms” her. When I first read the script, I didnʼt view her as a favorable character. She is arrogant, clueless and inconsiderate of othersʼ feelings, and uses her authority to have her servants comply with her actions. She uses her famous line as an excuse for her choices and mistakes. Helen blames the goddess Venus for the situations she put in, instead of accepting her misjudgments as her own. Meanwhile, the rest of Troy cannot argue with their queen and are forced to accept her character.
As the rehearsals began, I found myself searching for moments where the audience could empathize or feel sympathy for Helen, lik lines in which she recognizes others: “What will become of that dear good man?” Of course, the conversation always diverts back to her and it has been fun finding how Helen manipulates others into feeling bad for her. She is married to Menelaus but says that she has always wanted to live a “nice, quiet, married life.” She sneakily hints that she is in love with Paris and would be happier with him than in a loveless marriage, where she “truly tried to love” Menelaus. Even when Helen is caught cheating, she blames her husband for going on a trip she forced him to take.
It has been an enormous joy working with such a talented and accepting ensemble. I have made new friends and have been welcomed into a loving family that shares a common love for music. What makes this cast so distinctive is our determination to work together and throw around different ideas in hopes of improving as much as possible. Although opera consists of mainly singing, we have coordinated impressive dance numbers, hula hooping, and acting that have only broadened our art.
- Maggie K.