Over the hump…..

Well, it has been a while since I’ve posted, and believe me there is a lot to tell. Opera runs are strange beasts and this one has been as strange as they come.

We’ve done four more shows – Friday, Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday. The Friday show was supposed to be on Thursday but, this being France, there was another General strike that day so it got moved back a day. Doing this many shows of one production is something I haven’t done in a long time. I have many friends who have done those touring shows of Phantom or Cats, and almost all of them have struggled with: 1) alcoholism; 2) drug abuse; or 3) a nervous breakdown. Or some combination of the above. Of course it doesn’t help when you have to slog through the dreck of the Three Named One’s “music” night after night.

Still, even with something as wonderful as Porgy & Bess things start to get a wee bit silly. There are the moments when I look up and silently ask “why did you pick this particular night to have no rhythm?” Or there’s the sudden jolt when a prop offstage comes crashing down in the middle of a scene. In the pit things get even stranger. There’s the occasional missed entrance (very rare), or the sudden challenge of following a singer who has decided to “experiment.” Funny things happen as well – our percussionist accidentally struck the gong during a particularly funny moment Wednesday. Then there’s the famous English Horn solo in act II. Our EH player, who has been very reliable, had a slight bobble and added an extra descending note to the passage. Not to be outdone our Principal Flute, who has the same passage a few bars later, promptly added said extra note to his solo. There were a couple of shaky moments when I thought we all were going to fall over giggling. I know some people out there consider stuff like this “unprofessional.” My answer to them – lighten up fergodsakes.

My family was also here for five days. Img_0041
It had been the better part of 2 1/2 months since I got the chance to spend time with my boys and I really missed them. My wife had great fun shopping (shocked! shocked!) and all of them enjoyed the opera immensely. On Tuesday we spent our day in Paris. Since it was the kids first trip to Paris we decided to go up the Eiffel Tower, something I have avoided on all my trips to the City of Lights. To my surprise I was deeply impressed with the experience. I would like to formally apologize to Monsieur Eiffel for dissing his tower all these years.

For anyone interested in visiting Lyon I have some food recommendations. Lyon is considered the culinary capital of France and the food here really can be quite extraordinary. In Vieux Lyon (old Lyon) and on the Island (city centre, where the Opera is) you can find many places that advertise Bouchon Lyonnaise. This is the traditional Lyon style of food and some are quite good. I would especially recommend the area just south of the opera house. I also have three particular recommendations:

1. Lolo Quoi – found at the top of the Rue Mercier, a quite charming pedestrian area of restaurants, this is a family owned joint. The decor is quite modern and “concept,” though quite nice. The food is very good, but the gnoochi is not to be believed. I shall have said dish today for lunch. Price: 15-25 Euros.

2. Les FeuillantsImg_3691
located just north of the Opera this place serves excellent food. WARNING: if you have issues with the gay/lesbian lifestyle this is probably not the place for you. I have seen behavior between Tony (the proprietor) and his wait staff which makes La Cage aux Folles look like a Mormon church picnic. On several occasions I have had to put my fork down and just laugh. Great food, but the “floor show” is worth the price of admission. I shall dine there tomorrow evening. Price: 25-40 Euros.

3. Paul Bucose – located north on the Saone river, if you’ve ever been interested in finding out what a 3 star restaurant is really like this will be the place for you. 0 WARNING: if you are a penny pincher you will need to either suspend that part of your mind for an evening or just avoid this restaurant entirely. This is the old school high Lyonnaise tradition. China that could be found at the White House; multiple wait staff per table; a wine list that reads like the cellar of a great French winery. I was happy to recognize that I have several of those listed wines in my own cellar, all purchased in the BC (Before Children) era. Chef was kind enough to come out from the kitchen so that we could have a photo op. Eating here is certainly a “once in a lifetime” experience. WARNING #2: if you have issues with butter, cream, foie gras, or other fattening things then avoid this restaurant at all costs. Price: Completely ridiculous.

Img_0090When the schedule for Porgy & Bess was confirmed a little voice in the back of my mind (one of several) started screaming that the timing was important for some reason. It took me a while to realize why – France, at the end of May…….. hey! That’s the time of the French Open!!! I am what you would call a tennis whore. Bjorn Borg was my main man growing up, and I follow the Grand Slams religiously. Do not… I repeat…. do NOT bother me the last week of June and the first week of July. I am watching Wimbledon, and I have turned down gigs that interfere with the Fortnight. So when I realized I would be in France during the Open I joined the lottery for tickets.
To my delight I won a seat at Court Chatrier (centre court) at Roland Garros for yesterday. That little guy to the left of the umpire in this picture would be none other than Roger Federer getting ready for his second round match.

Tonight is the second to last performance of the opera. As much as I have enjoyed being here and doing this project I am ready to go home. I just want to sleep in my own bed. I shall start packing this afternoon. After the last performance, the Sunday matinee, I shall distribute some high-end chocolate to the orchestra as a thank you present. They deserve it mightily.

1 thought on “Over the hump…..”

  1. I played horn for the National (USA) touring production of “Phantom” for ten years, and managed to avoid substance abuse.* After having played 3500 shows, I emerged from the experience last year with my sanity just a bit frayed around the edges.

    I have been enjoying your posts about “Porgy” in Lyon. It’s fascinating to read about musicians in other cultures.

    *Pretty much.

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