Auditions, in the opera world, are very much a necessary evil. It is always an immense pleasure, therefore, to find, much to one's surprise, that one is positively having fun in the middle of one!
I was in Berlin last week for an audition I hadn't been looking forward to at ALL. It wasn't even for a job - the state agency here (the ZAV) has offices all over the country, and once a year they hold central auditions, by invitation. It means you don't have to schlep to all the different major cities for all of the agents to have heard you personally. You are of course more likely to be considered by them if they've seen and heard you in the flesh. The downside of course is that if you don't do your best in this audition, you don't have another chance to set it right. I had sung for a couple of the offices before, and knew that my write-up on the central computer was good; part of me therefore wanted just to leave the status quo ante and give the audition a miss.
The rest of me really fancied a trip to Berlin to catch up on a variety of friends, pick up a bottle of cinnamon liqueur sparkling with gold leaf which tastes gloriously of Christmas to me, and catch a cellist friend's début in a well-known Berlin jazz club. That part won.
So having convinced myself that I was actually singing better than before, and besides which I could use the audition practice, I turned up at the Berlin offices of the ZAV. I'd planned to be in plenty of time, but got foxed by building works to the Berlin subway system (I'd even remembered to bring along my transport map, being well prepared - shame the U1 and U2 had been illogically part-subsumed into what is presumably meant to be the U1 / 2 but looks like the U12 and isn't on the map...). Luckily they were running late after lunch, so I had a chance to catch my breath. I'd warmed up at the apartment of the friend who put me up the previous night, so that wasn't a problem. The poor things were on their fourth consecutive day of audition, and a quick glance at the list of singers showed an entire day of lyric sopranos... and me. I went in grinning and thinking, ha, this will shock them, and hit them between the eyes with my Verdi (Azucena, Condotta ell'era in ceppi, from Il trovatore). (And no, of course I didn't so much hit as rather cautiously let my voice out, it not being the hugest of rooms and it having windows behind all the listeners which bounced the voice back rather loudly...). All I can say is, they were definitely awake by the time I'd howled the last notes. Then, as per normal procedure, they had four more arias on my list to choose from. They were palpably delighted to find a funny one (The old lady's tango, from Bernstein's Candide) and I just relaxed then and there, had huge fun hamming it up, ending with a flourish and a stamp so hard on the last HEY! that I had to apologise for probably having just made a hole in their nice little stage, and said to send the bill for that along with the Bestätigung (bit of paper saying you were there but they paid no expenses, for tax / unemployment purposes). Leaving 'em laughing is not often an option given the repertoire I sing - I walked out grinning a lot wider than when I went in, and will try and remember this feeling for whatever auditions turn up soon!
Um, yes - the picture is a biscuit. It's sort of what happened when I landed in England for my sister's wedding a couple of weeks ago to find her in the middle of a biscuits-for-favours crisis (don't ask. Wedding stuff, only to be understood by initiates....). On no sleep, being awake an extra hour due to the time difference, and in a mood to try and get as much sorted out as possible, weddings being occasions when even the levelest of minds have a tendency to flip over details, I cut and baked and iced and piped silhouettes of the bride and groom, and picked up shattered pieces of icing and bride-to-be, and answered flatly "yes" to my sister's exhausted question of whether she was mad to do this... and at some point when she wasn't around, blearily decided that the batch of icing I'd just mixed was exactly the colour of a Moomintroll (small Swedish cartoon creature from childhood, for the puzzled). Therefore I sneaked three biscuits from the production line and iced him in three different poses... to be wrapped up and sent off with them as a surprise on honeymoon. Well, it amused ME!! I'm very glad to report the entire shebang went off marvellously, and wish my sister and her new husband every health and happiness. (And am damn glad I only have one sister to help with wedding preparations - I was knackered!!)