It is no surprise that after an experience like San Francisco Opera’s Ring Cycle, there would be a bit of an adjustment. A bit is a gross understatement.
The day after I finished The Ring in San Francisco, I was on a plane headed to Germany, where I would begin Vorproben (pre-rehearsals) for a new production of Les Troyens at the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe. I arrived and we began work. Hot, sweaty, no air-conditioning work. In Germany, (I know that I’ve mentioned this before, but indulge me please) there are two kinds of rehearsal periods. For a new production, rehearsals are upwards of six weeks. If it is a season opening premiere then sometimes they tack on four or so weeks of Vorproben as well. However, if it is a Wiederaufnahmen (a return production), sometimes you get two weeks of rehearsal and sometimes you get two days. As Ado Annie might say, with Germany, it is all or nothing.
One nice aspect of a long rehearsal process is that you’re able to try many things out. An even nicer aspect, however, is that you’re able to toss out the ones that don’t work, i.e. singing “Nuit d’ivresse” while the tenor makes a fruit salad...in my cleavage.
After the Vorproben ended, I was able to have five blissful, delightful weeks of vacation. I traveled to Texas, Seattle, San Francisco, Buffalo, Toronto and NYC before heading back to Germany. It was lovely and wonderful and greatly needed.
Once back in Germany, not only was I working full-steam ahead on Les Troyens, but I was getting all of the things done that I needed to do in order to work and live in Germany for awhile. It was an absolute disaster. I would call it a comedy of errors but I still don’t quite find it all funny. Nothing went right. Nothing at all. However, slowly...ever so slowly, things started coming together. After a week back in Germany, which included moving into an apartment, an IKEA disaster of epic proportions, mayhem at the Visa office, yelling at the internet people, being told that I would not be able to have gas or electricity and yelling at them as well and many minutes of doing the ugly cry, I had to pack up and go to Berlin to sing Gutrune in Götterdämmerung.
Being back in Berlin was a lovely respite and as always, Wagner has a way of soothing my soul. I sang Gutrune at the Deutsche Oper with Maestro Runnicles on my birthday, and I don’t’ think that I have ever had a better one.
However, the next day I got sick. It was a horrible cold that turned into bronchitis and sinusitis. I was able to go to the doctor (hooray for German health care) and spent most of the week in bed. I sang the second performance by the skin of my teeth and then headed back to work on Les Troyens.
After five weeks of regular rehearsal and four weeks of pre-rehearsals, we opened Les Troyens. It was an incredibly special night for me. My first leading role in Germany. My first opera in French. My first time covering myself in head to toe blue paint. Many firsts. It was a wonderful success and I’m incredibly thankful and grateful to have been a part of it.
Now I’m singing Didon about once a week (it is hard to program a 5 hour opera on a weeknight) and preparing for my Liederabend. I then head back to the USA (land of diet cokes and Walgreens) for Götterdämmerung at the Met. It is apparently the year of Götterdämmerung. And I am just fine with that.