I absolutely cannot believe that the rehearsal process for this opera started on the 24 February. I had to look back through these odd ramblings to check. It feels like last week. Not that I feel unprepared; simply that the time has flown by, and the production still feels fresh. I really love Strauss's way of writing for the voice - it feels as though you are acting and reacting in real time - the vocal line is such an integral part of the acting that you almost forget you're singing.
Almost. In order to give my voice the best chance to shine tonight, I've been keeping very quiet today. It has been a beautiful Spring day here, thank goodness, and a long and peaceful wander along the banks of the Rhine, watching the sunlight sparkling on the water (very dark blue today) and the strange shadows of the avenue of pollarded plane trees, aching to burst into bud any day, did my soul no end of good. I find that a walk like that does more to calm my nerves and bring me into a decent perspective than just about anything else.
Funny how different roles require different preparation on performance days. Herodias just uses so much malicious and terrified nervous energy that I even felt the need to sneak back into bed after lunch for a snooze. I am in awe of singers who have busy family lives (I know a few!) for whom this would be the ultimate unattainable luxury! I'm just about to take a bath, having run the bath some time ago (an occasion, I thought, for my favourite Farmacia di Santa Maria Novella bath salts - welcome opulence!). My voice is partial to a bit of steam. Then a gentle and gradual warm-up while I dress for the première party (nothing too over-the-top - this IS Germany! However I am immensely honoured to have the wonderful Miss Rosalind Plowright as my guest tonight, and have no wish to look like a scruffy gypsy next to her habitual elegance!).
Before setting off for the theatre I'll run through my mental checklist - have I gone over the score thoroughly? Yes. Remembered the toi-toi cards? Yes (they're in an envelope tied to the door, so I can't forget them!). Painted my claws? Yes (evidence appended above). Right. In that case, SHOWTIME!!! I can't wait.