I’m on a train on my way from Brussels to Stuttgart, where I will spend a couple of days on my way back to Warsaw just visiting some friends. The last couple of days haven’t been as crazy as the La Scala day, but I thought I would report on them nonetheless.
After my Scala audition I got on yet another train to Venice for an audition the following day at Teatro La Fenice. The trip was uneventful, and I stayed at the same hotel I had stayed at the year before, when I took the trip all the way to Venice, only to wake up the morning of the audition with a severe cold forcing me to cancel the audition. I tried not to focus too much on the fact that this audition was actually costing me double, so I’d better sing well.
When I arrived to the theater I discovered that there were 5 singers auditioning and one of them was an American I had worked with at City Opera. It’s always so funny to be in such a far flung place and see someone you know. The other funny thing about the audition was that all five of the singers sat in the theater and listened to each other audition, which I haven’t experienced before. But I was glad we had that opportunity because La Fenice is stunningly beautiful and it was nice to be inside there for an entire hour or so while everybody sang. I understand it was rebuilt because it burned down, although I don’t know the details about when. But it is exquisitely beautiful and seemed tiny to this American used to giant cavernous theaters. The colors were also really unusual, with a beautiful fresco on the ceiling and lots of turquoise sky colored paint on the boxes and walls.
The audition went well enough, although they asked me to start with my aria from Lucrezia Borgia, and it felt funny singing it suddenly without the staging and my buddies onstage singing the choruses. Afterwards I had lunch with my fellow American singer and had yet another chance encounter with another American friend.
I knew my friend James, who directed me in Barbiere in Tampa (and who I talk about in a previous post) was going to be in Italy with his family at some point, but I didn’t have any idea exactly when. But I posted something on facebook about how I was going to Venice, he noticed and wrote to me saying “I’m arriving in Venice Tuesday – will you still be there?” We emailed a bunch, and he was flying in and meeting his parents who were there for a vacation, and I had to leave and catch a train back to Torino where I was leaving early the next morning to go to Brussels. During the day we were emailing each other back and forth – his flight was delayed, my audition wasn’t over yet, etc (thank god for mobile phones that have email!!) and I kept saying “I don’t think it will work out for us to see each other unless somehow you’re near the train station when I’m leaving”. Venice is really difficult and slow to get around in because you have to take boats everywhere, and I don’t know any of the parts except the part where I get on and off the train and the part where the theater is located. But lo and behold, I emailed him when I was getting onto the Vaporetto (the water taxi that takes you do the different parts of the city) and he said, “we’re at the train station waiting for you!” So when the Vaporetto pulled into the station, there he was with his parents, waving at me. It turned out their hotel was only a short walk from the train station – che fortuna! Here was another case of seeing people you know completely out of context in a strange environment. I took a slightly later train and sat and had a pizza and sparkling water with him and his lovely parents (who I had met when they came to see the Barber in Tampa) and was off again on the train. How amazingly small the world is that here were three people that I hadn’t seen since December in Tampa, Florida, and now I was having a pizza with them looking out at the canals of Venice. Amazing.
I made it back to Torino, and then next morning it was off to Brussels bright and early. I was looking forward to seeing this new city that has several of my favorite things in it (chocolate, frites, beer, waffles – I could live on those things alone I think) and I was also happy to note that one of my colleagues from Warsaw was working there and so I would actually have someone to have a meal or two with instead of the usual days of solitude when I go to a city and do an audition (Venice was an exception!). However, as luck had it, he happened to be released from rehearsals for the exact same two days that I was in town, so he went back home to Italy for a little R&R, leaving me to explore Brussels all on my own.
I didn’t waste any time getting myself some frites and delicious Belgian beer, and did as much exploring as I could without wanting to over-tire myself before the audition. The audition the next day went well, and I met someone else I knew – or at least knew of – a colleague of my best friend Georgia’s whom she had worked with in Warsaw and who is Polish. I had plenty to chat about with him and I practiced all my polish swear words to keep myself distracted before the audition. After the audition I had moules and frites and more beer (I managed to splash something greasy all over my silk blouse) and off to bed to rest up for another day of travel. And now I’m on the thalys train to Germany to wrap my mind around yet another language.
Speaking of languages, I got to see exactly what shape my French was in during this little sojourn in Belgium, and while it’s not bad, I’m getting tired of always messing up words I KNOW by saying them in Italian with a French accent. I have studied far more French than Italian, and at one point could communicate relatively well in French. However, since Italian has taken over that second language spot in my brain, I have trouble thinking in French and what comes out when I try to speak is a jumble of words in several languages. My brain and my mouth don’t feel in synch, and a second later I can remember exactly how to say all of the words I have just jumbled, but by then I’ve already managed to disagree with the concierge in the hotel when he tells me I need to use my key in the elevator (I thought he was asking me if I needed an extra key), causing him to look at me strangely and switch to English. Ah, the dreaded switch to English. That’s when you know you really suck. If I’m feeling particularly prodigious, I will INSIST, “Non monsieur, s’il vous plait, en francais!” but usually I’m so deflated by the switch that I just say, “Yeah, okay, got it. Use key in elevator. Will do.”
On a final note, today is my Dad’s birthday. Always being on the road, I miss being with my family on a lot of holidays, and I really appreciate the fact that they never ever expect anything from me other than living my dreams. They encouraged me to go to college on the other coast, to come to europe to do auditions, to be wherever my dreams might take me. Pretty amazing, isn’t it? I definitely lucked out in the parental department, and for that I'm very grateful. Happy Birthday, Dad!