The operatic world is tiny! Last night I went to a performance of Falstaff at the Deutsche Oper (my third opera in 1 week, others being Die Frau Ohne Schatten and Die Zauberöte für die Kinder – information to come!). In the loo after the performance, while assessing the damage of riding to the performance by bike, I realised I was sharing the mirror with an American singer I worked with in 2006 on a performance of Falstaff on Belle-Ile, France.
After catching up on what each of us had been doing for the last 3 years and what had brought us to Berlin, we did what most singers do – spent several hours talking shop: dissecting the performance, comparing singing techniques and discussing the different requirements for singers in Europe compared to America and England and Australia. We were also joined by another American singer (fresh off the boat and ready to do European auditions) and an American double bass player from the orchestra of the Deutsche Oper.
This lead to a fabulous night of discussion about music and life and a sampling of some of the more delightful parts of German cuisine: Berliner Weisse mit Schuss grün und Currywurst.
Essentially this is a wheat beer with green cordial and a sausage with tomato sauce and curry powder, both acclaimed delicacies of Berlin (I think like Doner Kebabs you need the beer in order to eat the Wurst). I have added pictures as seeing is believing.
Aside from the food, this was a wonderful night. Singers and musicians are, on the whole, a welcoming bunch, particularly in Europe where so many of us are strangers in a strange land. The work is often transitory – friendships are made quickly, stories are shared and even before we know anything about the other person we relate through our love of opera and are genuinely excited by the capacity of the human voice to tell human stories and emotions.
My entire journey to Berlin from meeting Liane Keegan at the same time as my mentors at ENO were discussing my change of voice type to the very first application I made to the Finzi Trust, to the interview stage, to securing my accommodation here has felt serendipitous. Last night’s meeting also felt like another occasion of serendipity. I think I am definitely meant to be here and am so grateful to the Finzi Trust for the time I have here to learn about singing in Germany, to meet with colleagues new and old and to enjoy changing repertoire.