Friday, June 29, 2012

Rainy days in ponchos

So, sometimes It rains here in Eutin. And sometimes we have rehearsal, so naturally there are times when both of these things happen at one time. Well, when that happens this is what takes place..... 

Yes, that is correct.....we wear ponchos during rehearsal!

We had a lot of fun playing in the ponchos! And apparently if it rains on the day of a performance, we are to wear these over our costumes to protect them. The stage has a rake to it, which means that it is slanted so that the audience gets a better view of what is taking place. But when it is a wet stage, the rake becomes scary. One girl fell while running down the stairs even when it wasn't raining, so I can't imagine what it is like when slippery. Thankfully we didn't have to find out that day because the director excused us early from rehearsal. She said that the show was in great shape and wanted us to save our voices from the cold until we met with the orchestra for the first time that evening. Singing with orchestra is always fun! But it is especially fun when you know half of the players, and they sound great! This is a professional orchestra that they get the opportunity to play with, and many of them have commented on the amount of expectation in their playing. They sit in the orchestra pit in front of the stage which is normal, but because it is an outdoor theater there is a covering over the pit to protect the instruments. At least that is what I think the reason is, I could be wrong though.

So needless to say even though it has been rainy, we've been having a blast!


Our first rainy day in Eutin

Before coming to Eutin, I had heard plenty of stories about the weather and most said that it was rainy and cold. So I was pleasantly surprised when the greater part of our first week was sunny and fairly warm. Alas, yesterday, Sunday, the rains came....and it looks like they will continue to be present during our stay.

I am extremely grateful to have my rain boots. Not only have they been practical, but everyone keeps complimenting me on how cute they are and asking where they can get them. We all know I love that! Also grateful to have my rain jacket - I have worn it everyday, keeps the wind out. Mistake number one....forgot my umbrella, so on my agenda ASAP is to buy one. I also seemed to not pack any shoes that I can wear socks with except my rain boots, so if it continues to be this cold I'll need to get some other shoes. Oh darn :)

My dilemma yesterday was to either walk, without an umbrella, to rehearsal, or ride my bike. I discerned that because the bike is faster I would have been in the rain less time, even though I would get more wet from moving faster. It was unbelievable how sopping wet I was once I arrived at the opera barn. Thankfully we were having a chorus rehearsal inside instead of on the outdoor stage. Not only were we all very wet, but it was 50 degrees fahrenheit outside and the rehearsal space isn't there was a room full of human icicles. Many of the German chorus members were very concerned for us and offered to give rides to anyone who wants if the weather continues to be this awful. The only flaw with this plan is they gave us phone numbers...........we don't have phones. Oh well :) a little rain never hurt anyone!

Before rehearsal, the vocalists had the morning off (something new for us) and had a nice leisurely breakfast of coffee, and assorted breakfast foods. Some groceries are provided from the opera company for us (mostly breakfast and sandwich things) and at this point in timtime had run out of a few staples in the house, such as we got inventive. From the open house the previous day several cakes and desserts were brought to the Bethesda for the Americans to eat, and with those desserts came.........whipped cream!! So you can guess what we used for creamer in our coffee that morning. It wasn't quite the same as milk, but still tasty!


Monday, June 25, 2012

Laundry detergent


So I have been venturing into town trying to discover the best place to get a coffee, the best place to get a few groceries and other general knowledge of the downtown marktplatz. Among my exploration, I also had some missions of things I needed for my stay here:


Lavender Ricolas (which I still haven't found)

Laundry detergent

Dr. Hauschka

And a few other things....and it is surprisingly difficult to shop for things such as shampoo and laundry detergent when you can't read the text on the bottle. So I went with some generic German shampoo that was very cheap....I'm not sure if it is meant for a specific type of hair but It smells good so I'm cool with it. But I think I stood in the cleaning products aisle for a good 25 mins. I'm pretty sure the other customers thought there was something wrong with me. I ended up buying a tube called "Domol reise tube" which has pictures of modes of travel and says something that I think means hand washing....I haven't tried it yet so fingers crossed :)

In my exploring I came across the cutest cafe. It's called the Stadt Cafe and they make an amazing cappuccino. Not only the cappuccino but it so cute inside; there are several small rooms to sit in and a front patio, plus the "Kaffee Garten." The "Kaffee Garten" is a small garden patio outside hidden in the back, covered from view by a large tree. I wasn't able to sit for very long because I had to hurry off to rehearsal but next time I plan to sit in the Kaffee Garten and read while I sip :)


Germans sure do love their soccer!

I have experienced the ultimate German culture experience......watching a soccer game at the brew house! The place was so packed, it was standing room only! Lucky for me, some instrumentalists got there early (I was still in rehearsal) and I was able to snag a seat with them. The game was for the Euro Cup, and it was Germany vs. Greece. I think I picked a great game to attend, one because Germany won (4-1 final score) and two because there was a lot of action! Every time Germany scored very loud techno music would be played and everyone would start dancing! It was awesome! We had a table of probably 12-15 students, musicians and other kinds of interns, so during the second half Hans, the financial backer of our entire trip, came over to our table with a present....It didn't last long! This is good beer :)


Also at the brauhaus they have this delicacy.....Currywurst!!


Yes, I definitely split this with a friend....there is no way I could eat all that!! apparently on the first thursday night of every month the brauhaus has a party called "The After Work Party" and the place turns into a disco club.....don't worry I will attend and let you know what it's all about :)


Costumes/ open dress rehearsal

Life in the Neue Eutiner Festspiele is settling in nicely...we have blocked the entire show and are now going back to perfect the details. This week we also had our costumes fittings. The costumes are beautiful! Well....the second and third act costumes are. My costume for the first and fourth act is the same and it looks like a black trench coat that came right out of the Matrix movie. The second and third acts are similar to each other, but not the same and they remind me of a Greek goddess, very flowy and silver, cream and gold colored. I haven't been able to take any pics yet, but as soon as I get the chance I will. Back to the costume fitting... as you may have guessed, the costume mistress doesn't speak a word of English. Her name is Ursula and she has fire engine red hair. We did the entire fitting without any real verbal communication, mostly the two of them talking extremely fast in German (mostly words I didn't recognize) and then tugging somewhere on my costume. Apparently we are responsible for getting ourselves ready, which isn't a surprise, but hopefully I can put my costume together correctly without any help!

As for becoming acquainted with Eutin.....I haven't gotten lost once!! Yay! There are several ways to take that will end up where you want need to be, so it doesn't really matter if you take a wrong turn! We all have become very comfortable with the bike paths that are around Eutin and generally choose that over riding through town. I'm not sure if they are faster or just have ore beautiful scenery. The paths go through some neighborhoods, a field, then along the lake for a while, and finish up through the woods next to the Schloss (castle).

(better pics of the castle to come)

Last night there was an open house for the donors to come to the Opern Scheune (opera barn) and they were invited to come to an open rehearsal of Nabucco. The audience was only going to be present for act I so we were all asked to study extra hard and be completely off book for this rehearsal. And we did! I'm not saying that everything was perfect, but the director and chorus master were extremely pleased. After the audience left we continued to run through the show and I am now feeling very comfortable with the music, there are only a few spots where I'm going to need to review just for memory's sake...and we still have two weeks until the opening. :). Having an audience to perform for really brought the show alive and gave us something to "perform" for instead of just being in rehearsal mode and it was a lot of fun!

I'm not sure if I've gushed about the singer playing Nabucco yet, but his voice is amazing!!! He is an Italian who was brought in last minute due to drama with the previous singer dropping out. He doesn't speak a lick of German or English, so that has been very interesting haha, but there is a scene in act III where he holds a high Ab after the chorus cuts off and, I'm not making this up, he held it flawlessly for about a minute. It was incredible. I've heard through the grape vine that he has an audition with the metropolitan in two months, and I have no doubt they will love him!


I miss everyone so much! Xoxo



Thursday, June 21, 2012

Neue Eutiner Festspiele

Today we had our first rehearsals. We started at 10 am on the outside stage and proceeded to block Act 1 until 1 pm when we had lunch. I believe they did a bit of blocking on Monday, while we were still in transit, so in the very beginning we were put in places amongst the other choristers. There are 65 singers in the chorus, some come from the university in Luebeck, but I'm not sure about the rest of them, they might just be community members. The director speaks some English, but mostly the stage directions are given in German, so I'm having to pay attention to everything she is saying to make sure I get it. I'm understanding a lot of it but sometimes I have to ask one of the other girls in the chorus what were are supposed to do. it's a very different experience receiving directions in a foreign language, it's keeping me on my toes! It's also fun in the chorus because I've met a girl from Bulgaria and another girl from Poland. The Bulgarian doesn't speak any English and at one point we stand next to each other for a while and we have to communicate in German so we can understand each other!

For lunch we ate in the Cantina inside of the opera barn. The opera barn is a rehearsal space, but it just happens to look like a barn. We were served bratwurst, mashed potatoes, and vegetables. I can't get over the food here. It is delicious. Even the airport food! There were grocery stores in the airport that sold fresh fruit and bread and meats and cheeses. So far Germany is winning in the food category.


Yesterday we were given bikes and it has been a blast riding around getting to know the city! The bikes were donated by the citizens of Eutin, so that the American visitors would be able to have use of them. Mine has a basket on the back and a bell, and I found out last night that there is a generator on my back wheel that provides power to a light in the front and in the back. Much safer for riding at night. Before our evening rehearsal yesterday a few of us stopped in the town square to get a snack for the evening and I was able to order and inquire about it in German :) small step in the right direction, but it made me happy!




Setting Up Camp

Well it is official. I'm a princess here too :) My hotel room is the princess palace! There are three of us staying in the hotel and my room is on the third floor all by itself. The room is very quaint, equipped with a sink and mirror, two twin beds, two nightstands, two lamps, and two chairs. My wardrobe armoire is in the hallway outside my door...I am going to have to get some more hangers to be able to hang up my clothes properly. So far the bed has been very comfy and warm, although I haven't completely settled in yet. I have a lovely view out my window overlooking the garden of the hotel.


In the garden there is a giant chess set! It's the coolest thing...almost makes me feel like playing wizard's chess.


It also feels like the secret garden or something, because I have an actual key to lock my door :)


The other thirty people in our group are staying in a smaller dorm like building called the Bethesda house. It is kitty corner from my hotel and has this wonderful long stairway to walk up to it. And I'm not being sarcastic, it really is sweet. I have been going there for breakfast, because the house is equipped with some fruit and sandwich things, and breakfast munches for us. It is also where I will do laundry when I can't hand wash it in my room.

Things are very different here, but lovely. I feel very comfortable and welcome, and everyone has been so nice and helpful to us. I can't wait to have some time off of rehearsal to explore the rest of the city!


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Finally!! Made it to Eutin!

After what was probably the longest 80 hours of my life we finally made it to Eutin!

I think I left off in the travel tale while still at O'hare....oiy. Around 2 pm on Saturday we were finally booked on a flight which would take us to Europe. The schedule was to fly to Philly at 4:45 pm that day, spend the night, and then fly out of US Airways (a new airline added to this trip) at 4:20 on Sunday to Frankfurt. We were all so thrilled to be on any flight at all that we didn't really comprehend that Frankfurt is much further away from Eutin than Copenhagen. No hiccups on the plane ride, except that I couldn't sleep, I watched three movies; far different from what I had originally had planned, but that's alright. I watched "We Bought a Zoo" and loved it! I didn't realize before I watched it that it is based on a true life story. Then I watched "This Means War" which was cute, but your typical rom-com, and the third movie I watched was "The Vow", also good and based on a true story. I was a little concerned that I didn't sleep on the plane for fear that the next day would be terrible, but I figured I would be alright since I had a 10 hour train ride Where I would be able to sleep. Well, I was wrong. We did not just get on a train and ride for ten hours, we transferred to six different trains with all of our luggage. This meant lugging 50 lb bags up and down stairs and in and out of trains very body definitely got a work out. The train stations were fun though, we saw the hauptbahnhof in Frankfurt and I experienced my first currywurst!


After playing the train switching game for a while, we experienced a small delay of about 1/2 an big deal right? If we can wait for a day in Chicago I think we could handle a half hour. This of course meant that we missed our connection train at the next station. But there would be another one... so again, not a big deal. The big deal came when we were kicked off of the train due to a tree falling down on the tracks not allowing us to go any further. So once again we got off the train and squeezed on to two buses which were to take us to the next train station on the other side of the tree. This train, however, never showed up. We waited in a small, very cute town, of which I can't remember the name of, for over an hour. So then we piled back on the local city bus, ALL OF US W/ LUGGAGE, one city bus.....just try to imagine it. There are 35 people in our group at this point, the dean of the school of music and a contact from Eutin had joined us, plus some locals who just happen to be unlucky enough to be on the bus. There were suit cases stuffed and piled everywhere... on people's laps and in the aisles. The people were placed strategically in between the luggage. It was a sight. People outside the bus would stop and stare and laugh because it looked so insanely absurd. But it worked! We rode the bus to Luebeck and hopped on a train to Eutin and arrived at 11:30 pm.

By the time we arrived I was exhausted, but a feast had been prepared for us....and it was delicious and neccessary. We were served Goulash and beer, brewed in the brauhaus in town. I had the Rotbier and the Tafelbier, and both were delicious!! I can't tell you how amazing it was to sleep in a bed that night.

Some pretty sweet graffiti on the side of a train!


I miss everyone so much! Love you!


Saturday, June 16, 2012

At the Airport................still.

Update: 12 hours later, still at O'Hare

Due to weather conditions in Denver yesterday, the plane scheduled to pick us up in Kansas City was 90 minutes late in taking off from our original departure time. Also, due to the fact that this was a very tiny aircraft most of the students in our group were asked to gate check our luggage in order to be able to fit all of the passengers on board. In the air it was a very smooth ride and we made great time.....but once we landed it was a different story. The delayed departure time made our scheduled landing time 9:30 pm and with our departure time to Copenhagen being 10:05, and still on time, we didn't have any time to waste in O'Hare airport. I think I stood waiting for the gate checked luggage for at least fifteen minutes after landing. Then after running frantically through the airport to the tram, to change from terminal 1 to international terminal 5, we stood waiting for another solid 15 minutes for the tram to arrive. Upon entrance to the correct terminal we were greeted by Scandinavian Air personnel stating that the captain chose not to accept the delay and allow us to board and that we would not be flying anywhere that evening. After much confusion and several phone calls being made to whomever we could think of to help our situation, a rumor began to float around that the delay was a mechanical error with the plane in Denver, and hope began to arise that we would be put up in a hotel by the airline. But alas it turns out it was due to weather. Of course. And because mother nature is not the airlines fault, we were all denied hotel accommodations and were left to fend for ourselves without an itinerary to get to Europe. Needless to say it is 6:52 am and we are still in the same boat and I really hope I never have to sleep on a tile floor again. Grrr.

Otherwise it is a beautiful day in the windy city and I'm still excited to get to Eutin!......... And to get some sleep on the plane :)


Friday, June 15, 2012

At the Airport

Here we go!! I am finally packed and sitting at the airport in Kansas City right now. I seem to have packed perfectly, the weight limit for my checked bag was 50 lbs. and after removing some items last minute and putting them into my carry on bag, the bag weighed in at 50.0 exactly! I know that I will have a much more difficult time achieving that on the way home.....but oh well :)

Scheduled to leave the gate in Kansas City at 6:47 pm, I arrived in plenty of time, at 4:30...always ready for the dreaded hassle of security. Fortunately, the venture through security went smoothly without any hiccups. Since I am not sure of the Internet situation in Eutin I thought I would make a post before leaving! I am going to miss everyone so much, it has been so nice talking to friends and family before I leave... I'm sitting amongst the others in my group and it's funny to see the "cliques" forming already. There is a general buzz of excitement and nerve while people discuss the possibilities of what is to come. Whilst on the plane I plan to review some music and translations, listen to the opera, and sleep....this is going to be quite a journey and I want to start off on the right foot. Speaking of feet the Merrells are still the most comfortable shoes I've ever owned.

Once we arrive in Eutin things are going to start right away. I originally thought rehearsals would begin on Monday, which would have been nice and given us Sunday as an exploration day. But when I arrived at the airport today I was told that the first rehearsal for vocalists is on Sunday, but the orchestra doesn't rehearse until Wednesday. We only have about two weeks until the opening performance so it's probably better to get an early much to do.

Alright gotta fly now!


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Getting Ready!!

I am off to Eutin, Germany in four days!! My emotions are quite mixed as of right now ranging from excited and hopeful to scared and overwhelmed! This will be my first visit to Europe as well as the longest length of time I will have been out of the country...9 is a lot of weeks! Right now I'm in the process of completing all the tasks one must complete before embarking on a journey like this: packing, learning music, figuring out which international cell phone plan to get, contacting my credit card company.....and so on and so on. Packing has deemed itself not the easiest of tasks because I have heard mixed reviews of the weather during the summer months in northern Germany. I think the general consensus is to plan on layering because of fluctuating temperatures during the day and to have great walking shoes. And I finally found the perfect walking shoe! For those of you who know me, nature girl isn't really a descriptive term that comes to favorite shoes generally have a 3 1/2 inch heel attached to them. I have been informed by several people that those are not proper walking shoes and when I finally wrapped my head around the concept of "comfort first" I found these little gems!


They are made by Merrell and so far have been quite comfortable, but I'll keep you updated as they are worn more!


The opera we are doing first is entitled Nabucco, composed by Giuseppe Verdi and there is quite a bit of chorus music to learn. But the music is so beautiful that usually when I sit down to learn or memorize I get distracted and end up listening to a good part of the whole opera!

Right now it feels as though I am about to take a dive off the high-dive board and it feels good! I hope to learn and experience so much from the culture of a small German town and from working in a professional opera company and can't wait to document it here!