August 8, 2011

Careful What You Wish For

Our final operetta concert took place last night in a gorgeous little mountain town called Frohnleiten. I did not take the picture below, but when I saw it on Wikipedia I couldn't resist sharing it...especially because a stubbornly persisting sour mood kept me from taking very many pictures of the town myself.

As for the sour mood: my hormones are doing their usual thing with all the usual consequences (why else would I feel compelled to eat 4 giant candy bars within the space of an hour?), my chops have been really stiff for the last couple days, and due to a weekend of run-out concerts (with dinner only served afterward beginning at 11:00 PM) my usual comfortable schedule has been thrown for a loop. I don't know that anyone else in the orchestra shared my particular problems, but regardless, almost everyone seemed to be thinking the same thought last night as we set up on the outdoor stage in the town's main square: "PLEASE let it rain!" The forecast for the day predicted a 60-70 percent chance of showers, and if even a single drop of moisture falls from the sky our orchestra contract guarantees we will not have to play. If I had a 200 year old cello that cost me over $100,000.00 I think I'd be pretty darn nitpicky about a drizzle too!

The wind picked up during our sound check sending sheet music and flimsy wire stands sailing all over the stage. We nervously watched the sky as black clouds rolled in over the mountains. It seemed a sure thing that our show would get rained out and we'd all get to go home early.

Though I was a little ashamed to actually be wishing for a rained-out concert, I was also dreading having to slog through my parts on such an uncooperative-chop day. Ever since Barbara Butler's warm up class my goal has been to "never have a bad day." As a professional you cannot afford to have a bad day. No matter if you're stiff or sore or tired you still have to find a way to make it all work and play the gig...or else you'll probably just lose the gig. The show must go on, as they say. I guess it's a good thing I'm still a student, because I'm still trying to figure out how in the world to make this idea work. Last night none of the usual tricks did a darn thing, so as a last resort:"PLEASE...just let it rain..."

Sure enough, just as we arrived at the "Can Can" section of Offenbach's overture to "Orpheus in the Underworld," (the first piece on the program) the drops started to fall. Almost immediately the 2nd violin section put down their instruments and headed for the door of the church directly behind us. The rest of the orchestra soon followed suit and in the space of about 7 minutes the stage had been cleared, musicians were changing back into their street clothes, and the personnel manager was fighting with the event organizers about a possible plan B.

Long story short: we still had to play. The audience was moved into the church and--after many angry words and a threat of AIMS never being hired in Frohnleiten again--the orchestra was set up in the apse. The church's interior was luxuriously adorned and I think everyone was glad to have been able to see it, but even with the last stand of every string section not performing, we were painfully short on elbow room. Plus, due to more contractual obligations we had to shorten the program...NOT by removing a piece or two, but rather by removing the narrative interludes between each number as well as the intermission. What this meant to me is that even though I wouldn't have to deal with wind-blown sheet music and poor outdoor acoustics, I would still have to play all my parts...but this time, without any rest.

I'll spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say that though I basically did my job, it was not pleasant...or particularly pretty.

I think I would have remained lost in my own personal hell if I hadn't been gleefully distracted by watching one of the sopranos (and her buoyantly bobbling boobies) flirt throughout the evening with our young German conductor. It was so completely shameless and over the top I felt like I was watching a bad movie. One of the violinists and I had fits of laughter about it all through dinner. This time it pains me greatly to have to spare you all the hilariously gory details, but for my own sense of karma and politeness I'm going to err on the safe side, use a bit of discretion, and just be glad that what otherwise would have been a horrible night was salvaged by a bit of humor.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Dear oh dear oh dear!!! Hard lesson : ( I'm glad you had some laughter in your day!