Our first week of rehearsal is now finished, and I feel very satisfied with how things are going so far. We're going pretty quickly (considering how long the rehearsal process is) and we've already staged all of the first Act! That's like U.S.A. staging speed! But I'm still always amazed at what we have available to us in Europe staging conditions - for example, we've already been on the actual stage, in the theater, twice. We don't open until January 30th, but we've been on the stage twice. And in the room where we're rehearsing, the actual set is installed for all of our rehearsals, except when they move the whole thing to the stage occasionally. I've talked about this phenomenon before (which is not a phenomenon to Europeans, but to Americans - unless you've done a new production at maybe the Met - but I don't even think there they have these options), where we have so much luxurious time to get used to the stage. In the U.S. we work in a room that has tape on the floor to demonstrate where the set will be, and then the week of the performances (usually only two weeks after we've started the whole shebang) we have a few days to get used to the set and the acoustics of the theater and BAM we open.
I know I was mentioning before that I don't have any WOWIE WOW music like I did last year in Agrippina, for example, but I have to say that putting the opera on its feet has made me appreciate the fuller scope of what I get to do in this opera. First of all, excuse the broken record here, but the musical values of every show that Rene Jacobs does are just astonishing. The recits become like shakespeare plays in their declamation, even before we are wandering around "acting". And even though I don't sing any music that necessarily shows all my skills as a singer, I really get to act up a storm, which for me is huge. I was thinking that my character was sort of careful and measured, but it turns out she's really freaked out and distressed (duh - who wouldn't be - father/mother =son/mother = killed themselves, brothers killed each other, sister about to = yikes!) and the physicalization of anything slightly crazed is always really fun. I don't know what it says about me that my preferred characters have at least a bit of the crazy in them. I don't really want to think about that, frankly.
The only thing I possibly have to complain about now is the weather in Berlin. Can someone please explain to me why when it snows here it seems so much more difficult to get around than in say, New York? I think it has something to do with the fact that since Germany is not a litigious society the way America is, they aren't overly careful about mopping up wet messes that snowy feet make, so everything stays wet and slippery all the time. Also, they throw down a lot of gravel (not sure why - I guess that's like our salt) and the cobblestone streets are very difficult to shovel. Once it has snowed once in Berlin, the rest of the winter is like walking on a sandy beach in your snow boots. And the one time I tried to wear a pair of boots without those rubber sole grippers, I slipped and fell on my ass with literally the first step I took out the door. I am not even exaggerating, sadly. It's probably not fair to place all the blame on Berlin, however- I am a very klutzy individual.
But on the gratitude side of things, getting to know some of my colleagues this week and hearing their stories, and discovering what kind of obstacles they have faced in their personal lives and chosen to continue as artists nonetheless, has made me remember how lucky I am to be doing this, for as long as I am able to or choose to. For that, I will gladly slip and fall on my ass a few times, both literally and figuratively.