A debut day (and almost night) in Strasbourg
“I sing for free, it’s the waiting around I get paid for.”
I wish I could remember who said that. Almost certainly it was someone sufficiently well-known in the industry to get paid a whole lot more for waiting around than I do, but it speaks a fairly true sentiment.
I made my French debut last night, in a concert with the Strasbourg Philharmonic, in which I sang a couple of pages from Britten’s War Requiem as part of their 13/14 season launch.
It was a little strange, in that it was a concert full of excerpts, which made it feel very different to a normally programmed concert with full works which develop on a broader scale than a number of three-minute highlights, and it really is a strange excerpt to just walk out and sing (it works, obviously, much better in the context of the whole work):
I had a rehearsal with the orchestra early in the afternoon, and then some hours to kill in town and a nap in the dressing room before the concert in the evening. It was cold and raining all day. Hello summer.
Strasbourg is about 80km from Karlsruhe – just over the border – and can easily be reached by train in about an hour. Perhaps I should say ‘usually be reached’.
There were two possible trains home afterwards, one a 10pm and one at midnight. The first would connect in Offenburg for a train to Karlsruhe, but the second train would be too late for the final connection. Theoretically I had enough time to catch the 10pm train, however, instead of taking a tram from the concert hall to the station, someone called me a taxi – a good idea in principle. The taxi driver, however, took four times as long to find the stage door as he had said he would take, and by the time I got in the taxi, I knew I wouldn’t make that train. Looking back, I realised that he appears to have been running the meter the whole time he was searching for the stage door, too… hmmm.
So, what to do? Take the midnight train and be stranded in Offenburg until dawn? Get a hotel room for the night?
I’m very thankful for smart-phone technology, even if my international-roaming data charges will be hefty this month. I soon realised that Offenburg was a half-hour taxi ride, and that would allow me to catch a train to Karlsruhe. The fare would still be less than a hotel room plus new train ticket in the morning.
So that was my day.. about 4 mins of singing wonderful, if awkwardly decontextualised, music with a wonderful orchestra (it was a real pleasure to sing with the Strasbourg Phil, and I really appreciated the help of their artistic admin. Antony, also an Aussie), and a lot of waiting to do it! Whoever said that an artist’s life is glamorous?