A debut day (and almost night) in Strasbourg

“I sing for free, it’s the waiting around I get paid for.”

Palais de la Musique #twitterI 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.

Yep... Strasbourg. #twitter

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?
Strasbourg #twitter

What do you think?