Thursday, September 3, 2009

They should be filming this

Sometimes, I really think a video camera should be following me around and taping me at all times, so when I have days like today they could make a comedy film with the shots.

Today was the one rehearsal onstage with the orchestra, and I was only watching. I wished I was up there doing, but at least I got to see what everything looked like. However, the day was a comedy of errors for me.

It was raining today, so I decided not to walk the 35 minutes and to attempt to take the Strassenbahn. It's so confusing - there is the U-Bahn and the S-Bahn, but the Strassenbahn (which also starts with an S and ends with Bahn by the way, so come on, it's confusing) is like an aboveground tram that sort of links the subways stops I guess. In Germany, they trust you, so you don't need a ticket to get on board, but you do need one in case they are randomly checking. Can you imagine them just trusting everyone in New York? But anyway, I had to figure out how to buy a ticket once I got on board, and it was way too much work for me considering the fact that the instructions were also in english. But I managed it, although with the timing, I didn't quite make it to the theater at the top of the rehearsal.

When I entered at the stage door, I heard through the speakers that they had only gotten to Figaro's aria, which was good because Rosina's first entrace is just after that. I walked quickly through the underground tunnel to the part of the building that contains the stage, and tried to find my way into the actual theater. I knew where the stage was from my audition, but I didn't know how to get into the house, and it was kind of complicated - little doors and little rooms linking the audience to the backstage. I finally found myself in the lobby, and could still hear the music, but through the doors now, and he was getting to the fast part of the aria. I opened the first door I came to, and saw that it was some box way stage right - that would be no good, I wouldn't be able to see all the entrances and exits. So I started trying to open more doors towards the center. Except the Staatsoper theater has this bizarre set up where the doors to the house only open from the inside - on the outside they are completely without handles, and therefore impossible to get in. I guess before the performances some usher comes around and opens them, and because germans are SERIOUS about their opera, they don't want latecomers to even be ABLE to get in. So here I was, racing around trying to open these doors with no handles, all to the soundtrack of "Figaro qua, Figaro la, Figaro su, Figaro giu," just trying to make it into the theater before my entrance. I raced down to the orchestra level, and found several more doors with no handles until I came upon one that was open and raced to my seat just in time for the aria to be over. Just the sight of me racing from handle-less door to handle-less to the tune of Largo al Factotum would have made good tv.

I sat in the theater and watched the show - my impressions were that I was thankful that there is basically no set (it's an open square made out of curtains, and that's it) because it meant I wouldn't have to contend with any stairs, which is always a nightmare without rehearsal. I watched the first act, took a break, and came back for the second act. We arrived at Rosina's second aria, and at the end of this aria, in this production, they have added an extremely long and detailed cadenza for Rosina to sing while she bounces back and fourth between her lover the Count and her guardian Bartolo. This particular candenza is very long - for comedic purposes - and completely acapella. A couple seconds after the orchestra stopped playing and she started her cadenza, my cell phone started ringing. The things that make this horrifying (more than normal) are 1. I was sitting in the third row directly behind the conductor, 2. My iphone ring is something called "piano riff", and it's like that tune that the piano plays before you sing "I got the blues", so it seemed even more obtrusive than just a ring 3. This was my aria, my moment that I was supposed to be watching and instead, I was apparently receiving a phone call from BB King. I tried to reach in my bag and turn it off but it was buried too far in there, so I leapt up, knocking over my water bottle with a thud, and raced out of the theater as fast as possible. Later, several people who were sitting behind me asked me why I raced out so quickly because they hadn't heard the phone ring. I was utterly and completely mortified - one of my WORST nightmares is that my phone would ring during a performance, and I usually take great pains to not only turn it to silent, but to turn it off, and even remove the battery if I can. I'm PARANOID. But I guess in my race to open doors without handles, I must have forgotten to turn it off, and had the distinct pleasure of being completely humiliated by my own stupidity. Mortifying.

But the silver lining to this day was that I spoke to the director, and while I won't have the opportunity to rehearse with my colleagues, I will get to run all my parts in the show in a rehearsal room, with the director walking the other parts, and I will even get to wear my costume and wig for this "run-through". That is a big bonus because there are a couple of times I have to take an outer piece of the costume on and off quickly and that's the kind of thing my nervous fingers tend to bungle without practice. Finding that out was a relief. I also managed to snag a DVD copy of a performance of this production, so honestly, I should be fine.

This, incidentally, is the view from the kitchen window of the apartment I've now moved into. The church bells ring several times per day, and I feel a great calm when I hear them. I swear to god I didn't set up this shot, I was just making myself lunch (the strawberries were great, those other little berries I bought because they reminded me of Hansel and Gretel, but they were really weird tasting) and I thought - I have to photograph this!


Kathleen said...

Oh my god, that was hilarious! (and mortifying.) What a great mental image you gave your readers, though ;) Glad you scored a DVD, that sounds like it should help -- as should the awesome view with the church bells in the background. Ich bin eifersuechtig!

ken said...


nachtgedanken said...

The little berries are red currant and they taste nice with curd cheese :-)

I enjoy reading your blog for a while now and particularly since you're writing on a production I've actually seen (although I didn't like it too much, I must admit, I found it a bit dusty).
Thank you for sharing with us!

Leah Partridge said...

Jenny! You have made me laugh so hard. Sending you all the best vibes. And by the way, my website is looking fabulous!!!!!

Matt G said...

If you've never seen Spinal Tap (the faux-rock-documentary) there's an incredible LOL scene where the band gets lost trying to find the stage. Glad you made it though!

Katypracht said...

Hahaha Thank you for that mental picture - though I'm sorry you had to actually experience it! I hope the next couple weeks are calmer for you. You'll be wonderful!

Karina said...

I've been following your blog for about a year now, and finally must comment. I loved your s-bahn strassenbahn confusion! I experienced the same thing in Vienna...schnellbahn vs. strassenbahn? is there a difference I thought? Yes...yes there most definitely is. Keep living the dream and making beautiful music. Hopefully I'll get to hear you in person one day!