Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Relaxing at the Beach

Today is the fourth day of 80 degree weather and it has been a welcomed four days! We open Blume a week from today, so our rehearsals are quite long right now as we tidy things up and put the tech together with the staging; so it was nice to get away for a few hours and just soak up the sun! The beach was beautiful, but so crowded.....We got there a little bit after 10 am today and already parking was scarce. By the time we left this afternoon the parking lot was completely filled and people were having to park a 10 minute walk from the beach. The beaches are very nice here, and I believe it is because there is an entrance fee, much like the fee to get into a national forest or park in the United States.

This was not a nude beach, nor a topless beach......but we saw both of these activities take place while we were there. Apparently it is custom to change your clothes once you arrive at the beach, on the beach. And I learned a smart trick to keeping warm on the beach while also being able to go in the water. Bring a second swimsuit, which is to be kept dry and change in to it once you are done swimming. Very smart.

All in all it was very relaxing to lay in the sun on the shore of the Baltic sea :)


Magical Mystical Fairy Garden

Well I've experienced yet another magical evening here in Eutin. This past Thursday the cast of Blume decided to have a dinner party to have some fun and get a chance to hang out in a non-rehearsal setting. And we had this party at the home of one of the local cast members. She just happened to living in the home of the original gardener of the Schloss. It was built about 250 years ago and looks like it, but in a good way not in a run-down way! Surrounding her house is a fabulous garden that seems to have come out of a fairy land, with several different paths and odd benches and other objects placed strategically about. Also surrounding the house are more antiques and statues and objects than imaginable. I think "American Pickers" would have a field day!

Me posing as an added garden statue

A picture of part of the garden.....notice the bass drums

The group had all brought food things and wine to share and Tina (owner of the house) had prepared several wonderful dishes!

Our grill of yummies :)

Our tiny bathtub bar!

We all sat outside and talked and laughed and ate great food until the wee-hours of the morning.....not really just until about midnight, but the former sounds better :)

Another strange thing about this house is Tina owns several pets. Among them a dog, named Julius, 3 cats (whose names I do not know) and some chickens. To be more specific......23 roosters and 10 hens. To say the least there is never a quiet moment at that house....

This one escaped out of the massive chicken coop, and was nice enough to pose for a photo!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Vocal Chamber Concert

Besides singing chorus in Nabucco and Die Blume von Hawaii, we were also asked to put on a chamber concert of arias and ensemble numbers. So since we have been in Germany we have put that concert together and finally were able to perform it this past Sunday. We sang in an old building on the Schloss grounds called the Jagdschloss. It was originally used as a tea house for the countess, then it was used as a hunting house where the men would eat and drink during their hunting outings. We were told it was 250 years old and concerts had only started being given there less than thirty years ago.

I sang an aria from Die Fledermaus called "Mein Herr Marquis", it is also famously known as Adele's Laughing Song. And I sang the Flower Duet from an opera called Lakme with my friend Katie. I was worried a bit about being healthy enough for the concert, but it all turned out alright and was a great success!

The Lakme Duet with the lovely Katie Bieber

The hall was beautiful. It was very tiny, with a lot of windows over looking a beautiful view of the lake. It was also probably the most "live" performing space I have ever sung in. There was probably a five second reverberation of the sound once someone had stopped singing. During the dress rehearsal, when there weren't very many bodies to help soak up the sound, the voices were ringing so loudly that I wanted to cover my ears. I didn't though, because I didn't want to give the impression that I didn't like the singing!

Sitting in the dress rehearsal listening to each other sing

The view of the windows and chandelier

At the end of the concert all of the singers were given a small token to remember the building and the concert by. It was a nail from the original construction surrounded by plexiglas. The nail is beautiful, in the same way that all the other "old" things of Europe are. The nail is covered in rust and is bent a little which shows the life it's lived and the history it is a part of. The other cool thing is that each nail is different, besides the wear on them, but the actual shape of the nails are not the same because they were made before the time of machinery. We were given these gifts because about 5 years ago the roof had to be rebuilt due to water damage and therefore these trinkets make a very nice souvenir :) I haven't taken a photo yet, but I will try to get it up soon.

All of us dressed and ready to sing :)


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Die Blume von Hawaii

Besides being in the chorus of Nabucco this summer, the American singers are also cast in a German operetta called Die Blume von Hawaii. This was written by an Hungarian Jewish, German speaking, man in 1930 while he lived in New York City. Talk about confusing. Half of the text we sing is in German....half is in English. Same with some of the spoken dialogue of the main characters. And it is a very strange complicated story...so complicated that I'm not going to tell you the synopsis (you can find it on Wikipedia if you are curious) the chorus has been divided into two different groups: the Americans and the Hawaiians. I'm an American for the whole show, which is fine, but the Hawaiians get to do "Der Hulatanz" and I don't :(

The show is set in the time that it was written so 1920's ish...but we haven't had costume fittings yet...so I will be sure to post pictures when we do!

I believe the whole show has been staged, which is great news because we don't open until August 4 (open dress rehearsal on Aug. 1) so we have lots of time to tidy up our dance moves. The show is an operetta, which means that it is more like a musical than an opera (sung by classically trained singers) so there are dance numbers and dialogue as well as musical numbers. The most difficult part so far has been the language barrier .(once again) Not so much because of the stage directions, the director and most of the cast members speak very good English, but because the spoken dialogue is in German and full of jokes and things that we are supposed to react to. It's hard to react to someone when you have no idea what they are saying. So what we have been doing so far is plotting a scene and then the director will stop and explain to the chorus or one person in particular what he wants them to do and then we go forward. It's worked quite well so far, because when he gives me a key idea to focus on or a key word to listen for I can usually pick it out.

Our director is Hardy Rudolz and he is THE Phantom of the Opera in Germany. It says so in his bio, except it says DER Phantom.....haha he has been a lot of fun to work with and also it's a great experience to work with some one who has done so much in the musical worald in Germany. He has also talked about being in the original Cats on broadway in Germany, and Les Miserables (I think)

Blume is also great fun because we get props for our dances. (a Seaholm high school specialty, which would also be the last time I was in a musical) The three american girls get to do our dance number with a fan and then later on we all get to use an umbrella to sing about how there is too much rain in Monte Carlo (slash Eutin) and how we miss Hawaii.

Great fun and I can't wait to tell you all about "Der Hulatanz" ...maybe even a video will find it's way on here :)


Friday, July 20, 2012

Sick in Eutin

Well, it happened :( I got the sniffles. I'm not sure if it due to the drastic change in the weather every five minutes or if I was having a bit too much fun while Calvin was here visiting. My guess is the weather. Duh.

Perfect timing too, because Calvin left yesterday morning and I started really feeling awful yesterday afternoon. Perfect timing also, actually not really, because we have our vocal chamber music concert this Sunday and I need to be well enough to sing on it. And sing well! This past Sunday was the instrumental chamber concert and there was a review on it in the paper today. I don't want to get a bad review due to the sniffles! On the concert I will be singing "Mein Herr Marquis" which is Adele's laughing song from Die Fledermaus, and the Flower Duet from Lakme. Both pieces I've sung before, although I haven't sung the laughing song in quite a while so that is the one I am more concerned about. But I had a coaching with the musical director Urs Theuss today that went as well as it could. I "sang" through (more like coughed and squeaked through) it one time and then we sat down and had a discussion on text and translation. We finished the session by speaking the text and Urs correcting me where necessary. Productive in it's own way for sure, and we will meet again tomorrow and I hope that it is better!

So as we can all imagine things are very different in Germany from in the United States. I think I've said this a few times before but.....the strangest thing so far is the Kleenex. It is cheaper in the market to buy a package of 15 travel size Kleenexes than it is to buy one big box. This I know because I have gone through practically all 15 packages in the past two days (mucous monster). But it is a serious price difference. I'm not bothered by it at all, it has been very convenient for the bike riding situation, more like confused or just baffled, if you will, as to why this is? Another thing that is different is the stores have 10 or 12 different flavors of fisherman's friend cough drops. I have grown to love these cough drops and will be bringing some back with me for future use. Although they make me sneeze 3-5 times every time I eat one.

Everyone here in Eutin is sad that Calvin had to leave, especially me :( I had so much fun exploring and playing while he was here I hardly had time to blog (sorry :) I'll try to be better) Even the Neue Eutiner Festspiele was sad that he was leaving. On more than one occasion Jana, she is the instrumental coordinator for the Festspiele, asked him to stay because there are four percussion parts in Die Blume von Hawaii and there were only three percussionists brought over from America. But sadly he has other commitments and opportunities in Lawrence that he needed to get back to, but wouldn't that have been awesome!?!

Back to being sick in Eutin....I have adopted my grandparents method: Step 1. designate quarantined area, in this case my bed. Step 2. Get brown paper bag. Step 3. place bag next to quarantined area to make easy disposal of used tissues. Step 4. Empty bag as needed. This solution has worked very well, and now you all have a picture of what my room looks like right now.

I also noticed while buying Kleenex and fisherman's friend that the stores don't have chicken noodle soup. Again duh chicken is called haehnchen, but this threw me for a loop while was in a state of panic at being sick in the first place. But I found something that looked like broth with noodles and a meat product, and it was tasty so I guess I was successful :)

Ok off to get some rest......zzzzzz


Wednesday, July 18, 2012


So my original travel plans for the summer were "I'm going to Paris while in Germany." But after some research of the trains in Europe and with the fact that I never on know what my rehearsal schedule will be, except for one day in advance, those plans have kind of gone out the window. So while Calvin is here we decided to make the best of it and go to Hamburg for the day. We asked some of the locals, Jana (pronounced Y-ana), and she said it was possible to do day trips and a good idea. Ideally if we had had three days or so to travel we would have liked to go to Berlin. But we took what we could get and went to Hamburg for the day. And it was awesome! We took the hour and a half train ride from Eutin to Hamburg at about 8:30 am on Sunday and landed in the Hamburg hauptbahnhof a little after 11 am (small train delay in Luebeck). After speaking with the tourist information center we hiked across the city to make the ONLY English language boat tour of the day! We left the train station at approximately 11:15 and were running by the end to make sure we got on the boat that departed at noon. It was a nice hour long tour of the ports of Hamburg - I didn't realize that Hamburg is the second largest port in Europe, second to Rotterdam. The ships we saw were massive! Some of them can carry up to 14,000 semi trucks worth of cargo.

The tour guide told us details about some of the different shipping companies, which companies are located in certain countries or if they have a specialized cargo...it was all very interesting. Calvin and I had the best seats in the house, on the top deck at the "bow" of the ship! By the time the tour was over our hair was particularly wind blown and I was rocking a pretty sweet "do" :)

We also so the new performing arts building that has been "in process" for almost ten years and it not done yet. The performing arts center is built on top of an existing building.....other than that I'm not sure on the details....I think it looks like hole-y cheese :)

After that we walked back in the direction we had come because we had found a very cute side street with cafes and restaurants on it that we thought would be a nice place to eat lunch. After observing all the choices we settled on a nice place with a small terrace that overlooked a small run-off of the large river. We decided to be adventurous and order some classic Hamburg cuisine. And being that we couldn't read most of the words on the menu, it's no surprise we got what we did. The waitress, doesn't speak any English, asks us for our order and we go with the fass pilsner and the herring filet. We played charades with her in broken German and asked to split the meal between the two of us and she goes away to place the order. The chef was very nice and split the meal for us and on the plate was half of a raw pickled fish filet. My half had the tail. Needless to say we did our best to eat as much as we could, and Calvin did better than I did, but that is an experience I shall never forget. And now I can say that I've eaten a "Hamburger special."

There is a tail on my plate.....

View from our table at lunch on the terrace

During lunch we looked over our map and decided on what we would like to do the rest of the day, and settled on going to the Brahms museum followed by St. Michael's Lutheran Church CHECK , because they were very close to each other. On the way to the Brahms museum, we got caught in a massive thunderstorm, mind you we are on foot with one umbrella. The rain came out of no where, it was nice and sunny........and then it wasn't. One funny thing, which wasn't funny at the time I imagine, was like a scene straight out of a movie, two girls were walking on the other side of the street in the rain and one of their umbrellas became turned inside out and then blew away into the street from the force of a bus. Probably and image that won't quickly be erased. Soaking wet, we made it to the museum and had a nice time looking around while the rain continued outside. The museum was very interesting and had many artifacts and original pieces of sheet music by Brahms that were breath taking to see first hand. The most mesmerizing artifact there was Brahms' piano that he used to compose and teach lessons on. I REALLY wanted to touch it, but figured that wasn't allowed.

After having our fill of the museum (and after the rain had subsided quite a bit) we started out towards St. Michael's. I believe it is the tallest steeple in Hamburg and we had been using it as a compass all day, so it was nice to pay a visit. I was a little bummed that it was a cloudy day, because I imagine we would have even able to see a lot more than we did up in that tower. Now, there are two ways to get to the top.....the lift.....or the stairs. We took the stairs. (wir spinnen) I didn't actually count the flights but I don't think saying 30 would be too large of an estimate...everytime we thought we we getting close we would walk into yet another level with 6 or so flights.

Yes. We climbed to the top of that tower.

It took a while, but I think I survived because of all the bike riding :) it was pretty cool thought we got to walk through the bell chamber and see the giant bells. They started ringing right as we got to the top! I was glad that they didn't go off with us inside the room with them....that would have been loud and probably terrifying!

Not a great pic of me.....but oh well :)

At St. Michael's the crypt is also available for viewing so we decided to check it out. And talk about spooky....not in a horror movie kind of way, because the renovations on it were very nice, but just feeling the age of the building and history of what was beneath. There weren't actually any remains left in the church, they were moved quite a while ago, but gravestones are there (they are the floor) and some of them have very nice messages written on them. The messages were all practically the same, but still nice. The most famous grave was that of C.P.E. Bach (son of J.S. Bach).

C.P.E Bach's tombstone

Me outside of the church

As we were leaving the church there was a service starting, and there was a lovely piece being sung by a soprano as the prelude and it sounded quite lovely. We then decided to walk back to the Rathaus center because we had seen some tents set up, that looked like an outdoor restaurant, while walking to the boat tour when we first arrived. We were so happy to have decided to do that because it just so happened to be the "Stuttgarter Weindorf" ......an outdoor wine and southern German food festival!!!!!! We stayed there the rest of the evening exploring the cuisine and culture of a different area of Germany, complete with Lederhosen wearing servers and bartenders :) for two euro we bought our cute wine tasting glasses and were able to enjoy......wein vom fass. Translation: wine on tap.

There were barrels of wine with a spickett plugged in to them, it was the most amazing thing. We also were given other glasses to drink wines that weren't the fass wein to more "properly" enjoy them, but those weren't for keeps. Conclusion: we love Trocken (dry) Rieslings. Among the enormous wine lists there was also some glorious food. Pretzels, waffles with applesauce, kaese spaetzle, bratwurst, stuttgartwurst, kraut......I could go on and on and on......and we ate everything we could! The weather at this point was amazing and we stayed at the weindorf until about 10 pm when we headed for the train station, to go back to Eutin.

This was a magical day that I will never forget.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Opening night of Nabucco

By far one of the coolest performances of my life. There was quite a good crowd, not as big as I thought but that could have been because of the rain scare, and they responded quite well to the show. Normally we start dress rehearsals earlier than this night so that by the time we get to some of our numbers where we must sing out directly to the audience I can't even keep my eyes open because of the glaring sunset. But tonight we began the show at 8 pm and it was a nice surprise to be able to see off the stage. No glitches in the show, not a whole lot of tech things which helps, and the soloists sounded awesome!

But the best part of the evening came in act III, during the most famous chorus "Va pensiero", and maybe the most famous part of the whole opera. The chorus walks on in our opening black outfit, not on the stage but on the walkway that separates the top half of the audience and the bottom half, carrying lit candles. Because there are so many of us we fill the entirety of the walkway, which in itself looks pretty cool. At the end of the number we have it "choreographed" with the music to blow out the candles at the same time, it has a pretty cool effect. And my candle stayed lit the entire time! On Wednesday night, the final dress rehearsal, about four measures into the piece I inhaled a bug and had to cough a little. Well, I learned not to hold my candle so high, because it most definitely blew out when I was coughing to get the bug out of my throat. I felt awful because the press photos were being taken that evening and I hope that I didn't ruin the photo because of one burnt out candle. Oh well, it didn't happen during opening and that is all that matters. What made this performance so memorable was the fact that the show came to a halt after we finished singing "Va Pensiero" because the audience got up out of their seats to applaud. So much applause that the conductor started the piece over again and we sang it twice. I have never experienced anything like that it before, and I'm not sure if it will happen at any of the other performances but it will never replace that first time.



This past Thursday was our longest stretch of free time so far, from 2 pm (thurs.) until the Friday night opening of Nabucco the next day. So a few of us took the opportunity and traveled to a nearby town called Luebeck to explore some place other than Eutin while in Germany. Luebeck isn't considered a large city in Germany, but it is very old and has plenty of tourist attractions. The most famous thing about Luebeck, is St. Mary's cathedral, the oldest gothic church that inspired the "gothic" design of churches all over Europe. It was built between 1250-1350, and is very very tall. The story behind it is that the devil helped the human workers who were building the church, which is why it grew so tall so quickly, because he thought it was going to become a wine bar. Once he realized that it was being built to become a cathedral, he turned against the project and was going to start tearing it down. The workers stopped him and told him that the wine bar was going to be built right next to the church, and he seemed cool with that because lots of people whom had frequently visited such a place (the winebar) had come to see him.

It was almost eery being in the church, I'm not sure why but it was almost as if I could feel the hundreds of years of people who have passed through the church. The church is also famous because in 1942, during a church service, the bells at the back of the church came crashing down due to an English air bomb raid in World War II. The bell still lays where is landed as a remembrance of that time in history.

When walking into the city, there is one building that can not be missed. It is the city gate that has protected thousands of people throughout history. It also is a Museum in which you can walk up inside the gate and find out all kinds of interesting information, well if you can read German text that is. It was still interesting, some of it was in English, to have been inside this building that was so old and important to the city. There just aren't things like this in America because our country is so young and it has been very refreshing and educating about other histories of the world.

Then we visited my FAVORITE attraction.................the Marzipan store! Ok I'm not sure if it was my favorite, but it was the most delicious. They have marzipan potatoes (big, medium, and small sized) and other assorted vegetables. They have several types of fish and other sea food. They have the city gate, and the giant church.....basically every shape that you could ever want marzipan in, they have it! And we were so lucky, we walked in and about 7 minutes later they shut the doors to close the store. I might have cried if we didn't get to buy marzipan........I have been drooling for it since I got off the plane :)

Also while in Luebeck, we went on a wild goose chase. Calvin had read about a micro brewery in Leubeck that he was excited to visit, and it just so happened that our friends like to drink beer too so we decided to look for it. We decided that while trying to find the brewery we would also stops at things that looked interesting and shops that people may have wanted to enter (some people were looking to buy shoes......and not just me). So we have our map and we are casually walking around stopping to look here and there and taking photos................I found my European home

We can't find this brewery, we have walked all around the block that we were certain it was on...but it wasn't there. We eventually asked for some help from a German couple walking and the man answered gruffly and pointed us in a direction, but still no brewery! We finally give up and end up at a very cute little restaurant, where I had bratwurst and kartoffeln salat (shocking) and others had schnitzel and pommes.....it was very tasty! The next day we went, determined, to find this brewery and when we did we were unable to go inside because it did not open until 5 pm and there was an opening night performance to get back to Eutin for! Darn! I think we'll have to try again before the trip is over.

It was a very good trip and nice to get out of Eutin for a little bit....miss everyone terribly!


Monday, July 9, 2012

The Baltic Sea

My friend Jana, she came to Lawrence this past fall for a six week internship, is a native of Eutin and hs been very helpful in pointing out the hot spots and local things we should see as visitors. The best things she has shown me so far took place on one great day! (and thankfully it didn't rain) Jana borrowed her dad's company van and took a few of us to see some sights.

Our journey began at one of the many beaches on the Baltic sea shore. The view was beautiful! The beach was covered with small hutches or chairs that were available for rent, Jana said the nice part about sitting in one of those while sunbathing is that you can angle the chair in such a way that the wind doesn't blow on up I and you can enjoy the heat of the sun! The weather was nice this day, not warm by any means, maybe high 60's, definitely not swimming weather in my mind, but everyone was in a swim suit in the water! You couldn't have paid me enough to get in. But we did stick our toes in, of course. I think Jana said the water was 40 degrees celsius, which was warmer than the air once you got used to it. While walking, Katie and I picked up some shells, Jana pointed out two different ones that are unique to this part of the world. I was lucky enough to find an empty snail shell. I was wary to pick it up at first because there are so many snails in Eutin after it rains that I was certain it would be alive! We also ran across some jelly fish. Apparently there are non-stinging jelly fish....I didn't know this, but it was confirmed once Jana picked one up. I touched it - very slimy, and not something I plan to do often. They were just floating in the surf right where we were walking, and of course they are see through so they are hard to see and at one point Katie stepped on one! Everyone involved was fine, just kind of scared us.

We then drove to a second shore because there were more shops and cafesso that we could get a snack. I had a lovely cup of coffee and a piece of cheesecake with strawberries on it....unfortunately I don't have a picture of it because it wasn't on my plate very long!

We had plans to go to an artsy farm, I think that is what she called it, but by the time we were done playing at the beach it was closed, so we plan to do that a different day. We then planned to go pick strawberries from a strawberry farm, but got distracted again and ended up at a very old watch tower. Jana said that when it was built it was used to look out over the land that the owner owned, or to see if someone is coming......so we could see very far. In order to get up to the top we had to pay one euro, and then walk up a very tight spiral staircase. It was so long that I started to get dizzy, but once we got to the top it was definitely worth it, the sight was beautiful! We had fun taking pictures, but we eventually had to get down because it was getting dark.

Jana then took us to a very cute old restaurant that was on the same property as the watch tower, where we had our first real northern German pilsner. And I found out something new that I wasn't aware of....it takes seven minutes to properly pour a German pils, so that it has time to settle after each pour.

The bartender who poured our drinks was a very old man with a very impressive beard, and watching him pour these beers made it almost seem like a science instead of just pouring a beer. He starts with one larger pour and lets that sit for a bit. Once he can see that it has settled he adds another spurt from the tap. I think he must have done this 15 times to each beer, it was quite fascinating to watch. It was very tasty and a great way to end our adventure day!