With exquisite timing, today saw the opening of the Christmas market here (and an amazing influx of tourist buses and gaudily-lit cruise ships) at the same time as the temperature plummeted vertiginously towards zero. The sudden cold brought on an immediate longing for Glühwein, and I realised that I am slowly going native - I am no longer fighting tooth and nail against the relentless seasonality of the Germans. I cycled along my street admiring the tasteful Christmas lights which appeared for the first time this afternoon without even wondering whether there couldn't have been one rebellious soul who defied convention and put them up, say, yesterday. I would definitely have given in to the Glühwein urge, but would have had to elbow my way through the crowds (not to mention, we had a concert tonight and discretion is definitely the better part of valour when it comes to chucking alcohol down one's gullet before singing in public...). And I arranged with a friend to attend the children's show at the theatre this weekend (from the looks of it, a sort of fairytale cum pantomime; songs, overexcited young audience, beautiful princesses, swaggering baddy - the latter, it is to be hoped, not displaying quite the staggering range of swear words in various languages I caught him warming up with the other day). The Pavlovian conditioning is such that I am very much looking forward to the festive season over here!
The concerts over the last couple of days have been "for young people" - a bowdlerised version of our Bartered Bride, with the orchestra oiked out of the pit and arranged prettily on stage (OUR stage!! We have to make do with running around in front of them, in costume but without scenery, and hoping to goodness the monitor catches the conductor at the right angle for tricky entries), and any risqué scenes toned down to appropriate levels. Aimed at an older audience than for the pantomime, both nights were sold out and went down gratifyingly well. Intelligent stuff this from the theatre - they're hooking them when they're young, then keeping their interest going, and could this just possibly be the reason that a much bigger proportion of young Germans don't find going to the theatre or opera a weird thing to do with the occasional evening? Anyway, I shan't quickly forget the face of a distinguished bass colleague (he's just been made a Kammersänger, which is a great honour) coming towards me to line up after his bow - "I've never been booed before!" he muttered, stunned... Evidently I play more baddies than he does - I replied that I rather enjoy my character being booed, means you did your job convincingly, especially with a younger audience. By his second bow, he was grinning from ear to ear!