The dress rehearsals were, as expected, not free from hitches. In both operas we lost all stand lights and gamely carried on, even though it was pitch black for some. Interestingly the conductors dealt with the situation very differently. Mark Minkowski frantically turned round and gave a few panicked polite waves in the air (like a chihuahua??) to the lighting crew. Gianandrea Noseda on the other hand hissed, “light” a number of times into his mic then, after we had played for half a page squinting in the dark, turned round and bellowed, “LIGHT!” with a demonic look on his face which must have scared the bejesus out of the first five rows of the audience. Anyway, I imagine the person who tripped over the wire triggering the Pit lights had probably finished his baked Camembert by then and plugged us back in, illuminating Noseda like some commanding deity over the Pit.
Also, Hitchcock’s birds struck again… just before we started Don Giovanni, Jorg leapt out of the Pit and into the men’s toilets clutching his violin (violin IBS?). Turns out a bird had sent down “a present” which landed splat on the fingerboard! Jorg has been very unlucky of late with accidents happening to his violin so don’t be surprised if he starts playing concerts with his violin covered in bubble wrap. I had to breathe a sigh of relief, I was sitting in his seat only the night before. Thank heavens for tutti rotation (we can only put up sitting with colleagues for a week you know). I expect it can’t be uncommon for a poor audience member to be treated to a bombing too. I’ll listen out for squeals from the other side of the Pit wall. I feel confident I will escape such misfortune seeing as I’ve had my fair share of bird offerings to last a lifetime. When the LSO were in Daytona Beach a few years ago I was lying on a lounger under the flight path of a flock of anti-bling pelicans who decided at that moment to empty their load. If I offer you the visual – bucket of fish guts, the sound effect – scream heard all the way to Orlando, then you get the amusing picture if not the putrid smell.
The naked dancing girls in Rigoletto that I mentioned in my last blog certainly didn’t disappoint, judging by the lustful glow lighting and warming up the Pit. I was studiously counting the rests as I had a feeling all the men around me might be a little distracted, but I stole a glance or two up to the stage and saw amazingly sexy, toned bodies which made me instantly regret the three boules of ice cream I had scoffed before the show.
At the weekend we headed to the Cours Mirabeau, a touristy shopping and gelato hub given the Cinderella treatment and turned into a concert hall (until 10.40pm anyway; by midnight you would never have known there had been a concert). Looking out into the audience was rather like looking into a vast open-to- the elements cathedral. People were lined up as far as the eye could see and the branches bowed perfectly in an arch over them. Those who had been eating their dinner in peace, hopefully enjoyed being treated to famous excerpts from Rigoletto boomed out over speakers. I do have to confess that in “La Donna e mobile” I crashed in a bar early so my D sharp all miked up, reverberated round the trees for what felt like an agonisingly long time. I’d like to say it was purposeful in order for my husband, ensconced in the Irish pub a few metres away, to hear me, but in truth I was a little taken away with the spirit of the concert.
Outside of work, we, the anti-social lot in the hotel, have had many generous offers (people probably think we are living on stale mini-bar nuts) to join friends for the day in their various homes for the duration of the Festival. The first one we visited we nicknamed “the Bond villa”. An incredibly palatial abode which was akin to a huge park complete with pool and tennis courts. We were spoilt with a fantastic home-cooked al fresco meal and spent the day happily lounging about poolside wondering what it must be like to be the owners of this place going off in the summer to what must be an even more fabulous holiday home! Something tells me they are not orchestral musicians…