- Find out which edition to use
- Refer to a full score if possible
- Read a synopsis and/or watch the opera
- Translate the entire opera
- Identify most important arias and choruses
- Mark instrument indications, including arco, pizzicato, tremolo, etc.
- Mark sound/color changes
- It could be helpful to use colors to help notify you of changes in tempo, dynamics, meter, range, etc.
- Ask as soon as possible whether or not overtures will be staged
- It may be helpful to prioritize sections by difficulty using colored tabs
- Consider the composer's style by listening to the opera and other works by the same composer
- Be able to speak the text in rhythm and, ultimately, sing and play simultaneously
- It is most important to understand the harmonic rhythm of the score so you are able to provide a solid foundation for singers in rehearsals
- Rehearse with singers as much as possible
- Be mindful of the eventual edition of the conductor and be prepared to play the score at any tempo he/she gives you
- Run the whole score in practice
- Be ready to play the entire opera by the first rehearsal
- Follow the conductor in rehearsal, NOT the singer(s)
- Remember that the harmonic and rhythmic structure is what the singers need. If anything in addition to that causes you to stumble, leave it out.
- Take breaks to walk around and stretch when everyone else does!