Sunday, 27 February 2011

Deep, DEEP in rehearsal hell at present.  The opposite side of the coin to those aimless days and weeks of wandering around smiling vaguely and practising what and when you feel like.  10 a.m. most days, three floors under in one of the rehearsal stages, work until 2 p.m., then maybe 6-10 p.m. Four hours in the middle might seem like a lot, but add in costume fittings, having to eat, cycling to and from home in what at present is extremely unpredictable weather ("Spring" - in one week we went from snow to gales to pouring rain to sunshine so warm I dried a washload of clothes on the balcony to freezing fog...), not to mention the normal routines of housework and shopping; well frankly you're left with not an awful lot of free time.  And that which you do have, does tend to be spent lying prone in a darkened room, knowing that the list of unanswered emails has now crept to over forty but feeling utterly unable to even approach the blasted computer.

The air down there is not the freshest at the best of times.  This is the deepest location in the city.  Normal rehearsals involve about ten soloists, either on stage or lolling around at the sides, and a line of people along the "audience" side of the room including director, conductor, rehearsal pianist, prompter, director's assistant, costume designer, set designer, couple of people from props, at least one costume assistant, and usually one bod whom nobody is really sure about but who kind of looks like they belong.  Once you add in extras (including mothers etc when the extras are children), the air starts feeling a little recycled.  And when you add to the mix an entire opera chorus... well, let's just say we're all looking forward to the start of rehearsals on the actual stage.

In such conditions it is tempting to grumble occasionally.  I spent over three quarters of an hour on Friday splatted on the floor, waiting recumbent whilst details of a duet down the other end of the stage were being hammered out.  I was tired and it did occur to me to think, ah for goodness' sake, couldn't we just nip to the canteen for a coffee while you get all that sorted out?  Then I thought, well hey, how many jobs are there where you get to lie on the floor for nearly an hour pretending to be asleep and they actually PAY you for it?  I giggled to myself, adjusted the leg of the oversized soft toy under my head and relaxed.

(And when I related that particular incident to a dear German friend, she started earnestly telling me about a friend of hers who had been running sleep experiments in a lab and paying the insomniac volunteers... Beautifully German - I had a bash at explaining rhetorical questions, but ran aground rather.)

Aha, and concerning language and deficiencies of learning thereof, I was recently describing to a (much younger) friend and colleague the delicacies that I had snaffled on a recent lightning raid into Alsace.  These included for example Boursin with figs and three types of nuts, about twenty other sorts of French cheese, rillettes, quail with figs and Bergerac sauce, guinea fowl with chestnuts and sauce Foresti√®re... dear me, my mouth is watering even now.  I could hardly carry all my treasure back on the train; loading the bike and steering it back home was something of a delicate operation.

Anyway, I was doing OK on the descriptions until I got to the wilder shores of gamefowl in German.  Attempting to elicit a few possibilities for quail, I tried "Um, like chicken, only smaller."

"Chicken nuggets?" suggested my friend helpfully...

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