SHARON SPRINGS — Performing in any opera takes a lot of work and preparation, especially if it’s for a stage as prestigious as the Glimmerglass Festival.
But for 9-year-old Rock Lasky, it’s work he’d gladly do again and again. At least that’s the conclusion he’s reached after acting in “The Siege of Calais,” at Glimmerglass for the past few weeks.
He plays Filippo, the son of Aurelio (played by Aleks Romano). The opera takes place during the Hundred Years War in the year-long Siege of Calais. It’s a story of heroism, self-sacrifice, and valor that examines what a homeland really is. It’s an uncommon Italian bel canto piece that the Glimmerglass presents in Italian with projected English text.
Although Rock doesn’t have a singing part in the opera, in order to audition for the role, Rock’s singing and acting capabilities were put to the test.
“I had to learn a new song, 'Where is Love,' from 'Oliver,' to audition,” Rock said. This was where most of his recess time went for a few weeks, as he would work with his music teacher nearly every day. It turns out, the sacrifice was well worth it.
“I like singing and dancing more than I like recess, I think,” Rock said.
He’s been acting alongside world-class opera singers all summer, even before school officially let out. With rehearsals ranging from three to six hours per day, it might seem like it might get tiring. But according to Angela, his mother, he can’t get enough.
“It could be 10 o’clock at night when I pick him up, but he’s the happiest I’ve seen him,” Angela said.
Rock has been singing around the house since he was a toddler, but it wasn’t until last fall that he took up theater class at the Canajoharie Academy of Performing Arts. His first musical with CAPA was “Fame” and he’s acted in a few plays in the past, but nothing has come close to being on the Glimmerglass stage.
“I was nervous at first because I’m the only kid in the cast,” Rock said. But after a few rehearsals, the nerves subsided and even in front of what Rock described as an enormous crowd on opening night, he wasn’t nervous at all.
Because his part is non-singing, Rock has to portray all his character’s emotions with his body language and with intense facial expressions. For most of his role, he wears a look of sadness. But there is one happy part — which we won’t spoil here -- that Rock can let loose on.
Working with director Francesca Zambello and the entire cast, Rock has learned more than ever about acting and performing, not only how to do it well, but how to fail well.
“The cast is so funny. If they mess up in rehearsal they just laugh,” Rock said.
Since he first started practicing for the audition and performing at the Glimmerglass Festival, Angela said she’s watched his self-confidence flourish.
“So much so this past year. I just don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up,” Angela said.
"The Siege of Calais" runs until Saturday, Aug. 19. For showtimes and more information, visit glimmerglass.org.
GLIMMERGLASS FESTIVAL YOUTH CHORUS
Through the Glimmerglass Festival Youth Chorus, 15 children from across the state, alongside members of the Young Artists Program, are putting a twist on the classic story of Robin Hood with their latest youth opera.
“Robin Hood,” which was commissioned by Glimmerglass, follows Hood as he decides how best to deal with the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham. The Sheriff wants to destroy Hood’s homeland to extract and profit from its natural resources. Hood must decide to fight back to allow his home to be taken. It was written by composer Ben Moore and librettist Kelley Rourke.
“Robin Hood” features Catie LeCours from Niskayuna, Antoinette Parisi of Albany, Henry and Naomi Wagner of Cooperstown, and Philip Nash of Little Falls, among others. In addition to “Robin Hood,” five youth supernumeraries appear in the Glimmerglass Festival’s “Porgy and Bess” and “The Siege of Calais.”
All “Robin Hood” shows are performed at the barn theater at the Cooperstown Theatre Festival through Friday (Aug. 18). For showtimes and more information visit glimmerglass.org.