Kassematten is an open-air amphitheater constructed over the partially demolished remains of the Schossberg's castle. After Napoleonic forces were through with it in the early 1800s, all that remained of the original Schloss were bits here and pieces there, plus a nice big chunk of the its cellars/underground prison.
This picture was taken at ground level looking down into the theater as stage hands worked to set up rows of chairs for the night's performance...
...and this is from my perspective on stage just as our morning dress rehearsal was about to begin...
It's odd to consider the notion that what are now "luxury boxes" were once prison cells. I wonder what the poor imprisoned souls who once occupied them would have thought if they were suddenly trasnsported a few hundred years into the future and given first-class seats to acts like Tower of Power (who performed here last week) or our very own AIMS operetta extravaganza.
I should say that the singers really did do a fabulous job last night. I know I've complained a lot about the music this week, but all things considered the show was a success--despite half the orchestra performing drunk or high or both. I'm not exaggerating here either. The other two trumpet players were sharing a bottle of wine on stage--sneaking it out of a trumpet case in between numbers and sipping it from a shared coffee mug. Needless to say, everyone was in very good spirits! There funny numbers that caused eruptions of tittering laughter in the audience, exotic orchestral interludes that seasoned the air with sensuous intrigue (imagine if you will, an Austrian composer trying to sound Mexican...), and nostalgic love tunes that I'm sure made all the little Omas in the audience shed a tear.
I'm hoping we can carry this atmosphere of fun and enjoyment (though, dare I hope for a bit less on-stage booze?) through to our next 2 performances. We've got "run out" concerts tonight and Sunday and will be spreading our cheesy operetta music far and wide across the Austrian countryside.
My 30 seconds of fame came toward the end of intermission. I was sitting on stage warming up and minding my own business when one of the stage hands pointed straight at me with an urgent expression on his face and signaled me to come over.
I nervously waded through the horn section trying to think what in the world I'd done wrong (it's not MY wine in the trumpet case...honest!).
"Can you play a fanfare?" he asked me sharply.
"A fanfare?" I grimaced back, "You mean like reveille or something?"
Everyone in the brass section ogled me with stunned looks on their faces...
"Whatever you want," (he was getting impatient), "We just need to get the audience to come back in and sit down so we can start the show."
At these operetta concerts the drinks flow as liberally for the audience as they do for the orchestra and--as you can imagine--it's a little tricky getting everyone back on track for the second half when they've been at a party for the last 20 minutes.
"Ummm....ok? Sure...whatever you want?"
He led me quickly to the front of the stage and barked, "Ok, go!"
I stood there for a few seconds feeling awfully exposed. My mind was blank. What the *$#%!!!!
Somehow I managed to pick up my horn and doodle out a little fanfare:
"Ok...I'm starting in C...little trip to the dominant...hmm...better try to end on the tonic...THERE!...good enough."
I heard the entire room quiet down and focus in as I played. People turned from their conversations and looked right at me. I finished, put my horn down, and received jubilant applause from both the audience and the orchestra.
While I was doing my laundry this morning, the orchestra librarian walked up to me and said, "So, are you contemplating a second career as a composer?" I smiled and laughed in response. Then a few minutes later the personnel manager found me and, after complimenting my performance, asked if I'd be willing to do the same thing again at tonight's concert.
So, I guess I've found a little niche for myself here at AIMS: "Spontaneous Fanfare Producer."