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Sublime Surreality

Yesterday was our final “dress rehearsal” (we oddly still refer to the final rehearsal for concerts as a “Dress”, even when costumes aren’t involved), but because the Edinburgh Festival is such a hotbed of activity with over 240 classical music performances in the span of a few short weeks, rehearsal space is at a real premium. As a result, we soloists, the Maestro, Sir Roger Norrington, and the whole of the stunningly wonderful Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Festival Chorus were hauled out to a local Junior High School, and we preformed a nearly uncut version of Mozart’s Idomeneo, surrounded by brightly colored poles, construction paper mosaics of various animals, petites toilets and paper trees praising the efforts of various students for “improved handwriting” and “finishing the race”. It was incredibly surreal to be singing such a heart-wrenching drama under paper penguins and basketball goals, but somehow it all worked:

Surreal

Elettra, the fiercely wonderful Emma Bell, stands next to a pole that reads “Responsible Citizenship”. Hardly a candidate for that, I would venture (Elettra, that is – Emma is a lovely citizen!):

Elettra = Responsible Citizen

The ravishing Rosemary Joshua as Ilia, sings under the watchful horns of a Rhino. Naturally:

Sopranos and Rhinos

And of course the basses endure the Marching of the Penguin above them:

March of the Penguins over the Celli

It’s always the little things, isn’t it?

Speaking of education, this is off topic, but I found the following video endlessly interesting, revolutionary and one of the most intelligent, hopeful and improbable things I’ve seen in a long time:

And finally, a bit more on topic, but also intensely related to the above video. Tonight’s performance of Idomeneo will be dedicated to the late, and truly great Sir Charles Mackerras. His presence has been deeply felt during this week of rehearsals and will surely be quite overwhelming this evening. We singers have been speaking non-stop of his deep impact on us as musicians, and it’s clear that his impact on not only the music business, but on the many people he touched during his enormous life was beyond profound. I am eternally grateful that the world experienced his passion, his expertise, his enthusiasm, his creativity, and his youthful spirit – all the things Ken Robinson is trying to salvage in his approach to education. I know I am richer for it. And I’m certain that of all people, Sir Charles would have loved making music underneath penguins. Ain’t life grand?

Tonight is for you, Sir Charles – I hope we will do you proud!

P.S. If you liked the above video, here is his sequel from a few years later:

11 Jun

Who needs espresso? Or to understand the wonder of life? Apparently I only need this....! https://t.co/F56DafpiH7

11 Jun

Indeed. https://t.co/p8G1st1OSG

9 Jun

Cry. You can reapply the concealer .... tears are cleansing and sometimes called for ... 😔 https://t.co/fd9hDX0OgS

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I arrive (nearly) to the end of this very full season, and it’s good moment to remind each of you reading this that YOU are the reason I travel the world, away from home for months at a time, working towards an unattainable perfection, exposed in ways very few people can imagine, singing the stories of characters searching for enlightenment/redemption/hope/relief/joy, and why I dedicate a large part of my life to this century’s old art form. I do it to entertain you at a minimum, but mostly to offer you comfort, to help us all join in a communal “event” that connects us across time and space despite our perceived differences, and I do it because I truly believe it makes the world a better place. I know you feel this most of the time as well. It’s likely what keeps bringing you back! I hope that after this season, perhaps you feel a bit more inspired to take what you receive as an audience member and activate that sensation in your own life, to bring hope and joy to the world around you. Don’t ever underestimate your power to do that - one doesn’t need the spotlight to bring transformation. #Songplay #Winterreise #Agrippina #Didon ✨

If this girl can do it, you can too!!!!!!! #belikeanant #heavyload #yourenevergivenanythingyoucanthandle #antsruletheworld #summerlovin

Grazie Mille @accademiadisantacecilia and the @baciopanino boys. What a JOY it was to perform with you all. Until the next time!

Celebrating #WorldOceansDay ... hoping every single one of you has the chance to swim in the vast blue ocean one day. Growing up in Kansas, I didn’t have the chance until I was in my 30’s, but when I finally did, an entire new universe opened right underneath me and I was changed. I’m so grateful for all that the planet’s oceans give to us. I want to be sure I’m doing all I can as a citizen of the world to take care of them and their vast, life-giving properties. Let’s get more informed and more active in protecting them and helping them thrive.

I was not prepared. The inspiration is through the roof to bring to life the towering cantata of #JoanOfArc tonight in the very cathedral de St. Denis, where she prayed for strength centuries and centuries ago. The same stones that received her pleas tonight will hear them again filtered through the mind of Rossini and the vibrations of those of us on stage. This, perhaps, is the thing I love most about the world of music - it connects us directly through time and space, and it shows us demonstrably how we are one. Ask me how much I love my “job”! @festivalsaintdenis @accademiadisantacecilia

#HowToFlower . . . What’s beautiful around you right now?

Grazie Mille, Roma. What a gift to be here for the briefest of moments - how much life we can find in the now!!!! #LightShower #Pantheon #Mystical #Luz #Luz #Luz #NoFilter #LookAround #Stopqndbreathe #batheinthelight #recoup #regenerate #batheingratitude #boydidtheromansknowhowtobuildabuilding #agrippinawashere #perfection #ladolcevita

And behind the scenes with Maestro Pappano and his @accademiadisantacecilia: a glimpse into the PROCESS which I love so much as we create our journey to prepare for the magic of the audience’s arrival. Thank you all for making our hard work so worthwhile!

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There will always be more freedom to acquire and more truth to uncover.

~ Joyce DiDonato