Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ja wohl!

I kept meaning to write a blog post about all that's been happening, and then more stuff would happen!

It already feels like years ago that I finally performed the Kindertotenlieder, but it was only 4 days ago!! The performance went fine, although I felt that my nervousness about the newness of the pieces caused me to sing them less well in the performance than in the dress rehearsal earlier the same day. I'm not sure what I was nervous about exactly - I had the music in front of me, there weren't really any "trouble spots" and the performance was for a very small but very appreciative audience. Sitting here right now imagining it, I really don't understand why I had to be nervous enough to have it affect anything about my performance, because I wasn't particularly worried about any elements. But unfortunately, that's the human brain for you. You just can't control performance anxiety. It's very annoying, however. But nothing went wrong or anything, and I actually got a very lovely email from a "fan" who attended the concert. I really like that people who see me perform can send me emails - it's the same way I feel about all of you commenting on the blog. It's fantastic that the internet has allowed performers and the public to be able to communicate so easily and freely.

After the concert was over, it was back to Berlin to begin rehearsal for this Barber. We jumped right in on Monday, and being back at the Staatsoper was like being back at the first day of school, a comforting feeling that I haven't really experienced since I've been out of the yearly City Opera loop. Except that The Staatsoper has moved for the next three years to a new location while they renovate the historical building on Unter den Linden Boulevard. The rehearsals and performances are now taking place in the Schiller Theater, which was built in the 50's, and which is in West Berlin, only a few blocks from the Deutsche Oper. It's not as big a building or Theater as the Staastoper, so people are all crammed in, and everyone is still learning where everything is. I wandered around for 20 minutes on the first day with the conductor, looking for a room where we could work on one of the cadenzas, and we finally settled on a dressing room off to the side of the stage because it was all we could find. But having several of the same cast members, plus the same director and conductor really makes me feel at home.

I was worried I wouldn't remember the staging from last year, but strangely, my feet just seem to move me where I'm supposed to go 9 times out of 10. Which is lucky, because since there are some new cast members who have never done this production before, those of us "veterans" (which is a hilarious way to reference me since I did two performances with about 6 hours of rehearsal) just kind of try to remember where we're supposed to be while the director shows the other people the moves. Funnily enough, the 6 or so days of rehearsal we have seem like plenty to me after how stressed I was last year with trying to learn it so quickly. And, after discussing Rossini style with the conductor, we decided that I'm not going to put a fermata on the penultimate note at the end of Una Voce Poco Fa, but rather do the ending come scritto - as written - as it would have been done in Rossini's time. I'm always complaining about the fact that everybody sustains that high note, so it's totally expected and traditional, and it just gives me HIVES to even think about it. It's probably mostly a mental block I've developed against it, because I have no problems singing high B's and even higher in other situations, but for some reason, in that context, it stresses me out. So when the conductor said he didn't even want me to hold it, I almost jumped in his arms with happiness. Without that stressful note, there really isn't anything about Rosina that I find particularly scary. So I can actually just have fun with a role I know extremely well, and not sit there before and worry about one note, and then spend the rest of the opera thinking about how well I sang it.

Not even the fact that I am now a common criminal in Germany could damper my spirits about not having to sing that high note. You think I'm kidding? Oh no - I left rehearsal last night, very tired from a long day, and as I ran up the stairs to the S-Bahn to go home, I was pretty sure I had one more ticket in my wallet, although I didn't even have time to pull it out and validate it before I slipped onto the train and the doors closed. The trains in Berlin, for those of you who've never been here, are basically on an honor system, with people coming around to check your tickets only once in awhile. In fact, in the four months I spent in Berlin last year, I only saw the people checking tickets one time. But wouldn't you know it, last night was the second time I had the pleasure of seeing them, and it turns out I didn't have any more tickets in my wallet. So they pulled me off the train, asked to see my passport, and fined me 40 Euro. I felt like such an ass - I mean, WHO doesn't buy tickets for the public transportation and just tries to get away with it??? Me, apparently. I bought a weekly pass first thing this morning.


Katypracht said...

Oh, no! :( What an expensive lesson to learn. Sorry to hear that, JJ, but congratulations on the Kindertotenlieder and the stress-free BARBIERE! :D

Lucy said...

Well, I kept meaning to write a comment about how nice it was to have you blogging again, and yet...!

I hope the Kindertotenlieder weren't TOO emotionally devastating... they are so beautiful.

Exciting to hear about a new Rosina! Hopefully the process will continue to be joyful. And tiefstes Mitleid about the S-Bahn.

Craig said...

I'm just a fan who's heard you on OperaNow!, but I know you'll be great as Rosina. Rosina is so intelligent and funny, so good-natured and devious, you're a natural. Please bring your Rosina to San Francisco!

Sibyl said...

Easy rehearsal= fraught ride home? Stiff price to pay! So sorry to hear about that fine, but have a blast with this Rosina.