A wall of witnesses
Papageno is one of those roles which is slightly infamous for the sheer amount of dialogue he has. In the process of learning and rehearsing, I wish I’d recieved the proverbial dollar (or rather, euro) for each time someone sympathised with my plight; being an ‘Auslaender’ (ironically, ‘aussie’) simply compounded that. In fact, my make-up artist knows the lines better than we did because for the last decade or so, Papagenos and Taminos have sat in the make-up chairs practising their dialogues before each show. Here’s the thing about sitting in the make-up chair: you can see the opposite wall,which is lined with photos of people in costume and make-up from all the previous shows, and some of those, are photos of other baritones in the very same make-up and wig that I was being given on Christmas Day.
As I was sitting in the chair, worried about all the dialogue of the show that was about to come, I could see that I was not the first to have stressed over this, and that it was possible to do it.
It was a great reminder to me of Hebrews 12:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
(Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)
This exhortation comes hot on the heels of chapter 11, which is often called the ‘hall of fame’, pointing to the great men and women of faith. Just as I can look at the ‘wall of fame’, at all the performers who came before me, and and garner encouragement to overcome performing nerves, so the writer of Hebrews calls us to look at the great ‘cloud of witnesses’ which surrounds us – not only those who came before, but those fellow brothers and sisters in faith who surround us now. An encouragement to run the race, to tread the boards (if I may translate the analogy), looking to Jesus.