I don’t actually have a photo to post for Day #54, quite simply because I had other things on my mind. On Thursday, my husband and I were treated to an incredible day in Barcelona: Joan Font, the head of El Comediants and the director of this vivid production of “Cenerentola”, took us on a most intimate, back street tour of Barcelona, his hometown and the source of his wild imagination and love of theater. The first stop was an old shop (originating in 1838!) that surely gave birth to Joan’s passion for all things theatrical. We discovered there was a maze of back rooms in this seemingly tiny shop, El Ingenio, located in an unassuming back alley, which houses what must be thousands of traditional Catalan masks and moldings, dating back hundreds of years. Each region in Catalunya has it’s own signature persona and accompanying mask, and these are all housed here, and replicated upon request.
And truly dusty.
Not to mention musty.
And ripe with smells and traces of the past hundred years – because I’m pretty sure regular (or even semi-regular) spring cleanings are not carried out here.
Add a few other dusty stops to an old bookstore, and some hidden churches, and that explains the hacking, wheezing, persistent cough that hit me like a thunderbolt when I got home. You see, in general, I aim to not be a hyper-sensitive singer always worried about the tiny pieces of gristle in my throat. I prefer to attempt an ordinary life free of paranoia and worry. I suppose I could have been a tiny bit more on alert when the smells and dry particles hovered over me with glee, but I was too caught up in the magic of the moment, watching the transformed Joan marvel at the world of masks coming to life around him to notice that my throat was about to revolt.
To make a long story short, the hacking cough kept me up all night, leaving me with no, (and I do mean NO!) voice in the morning….the morning of a performance of “La Cenerentola”…you know that role with all the vocal fireworks, spanning over 2 octaves with lots of high floaty notes and huge high notes at the end of the 3-hour marathon – you know, THAT little opera?
So it was a day full of panicking and gargling and flushing and coating and cooing and hacking and worrying and resting and humming and plotting. It wasn’t until roughly 7:15 that I thought I might be able to do this. But oddly enough, I don’t have a lot of experience of being sick on performance day, so I honestly didn’t know what to expect.
Everyone was on alert, the management could not have been more helpful and supportive (muchas graçias!), an announcement was made (only my 2nd in my career to date, I’m happy to say…), and I was still standing at the end. In fact, on a VERY personal note, I really didn’t know if I would make it to the end or not – and that’s an immensely frightening feeling for a singer, because should you fail, there is absolutely no where to hide. (Granted, let’s be clear: it’s not frightening like being diagnosed with a fatal disease, or not being able to make your mortgage payment – I don’t presume to elevate this experience too dramatically – I just put it in the context of my own personal experience.) But it was as scary a feeling as I have known on the stage. So, what did I do? I thought strongly of my Dad, hoping that in some way I might draw strength from his memory. Well, if anyone knows this production, at the very end of “Non più mesta” rose petals fall from the sky, and I usually end the aria with my arms outstretched – I know, classic singer pose! I can’t help myself! But last night, for the very first time after roughly 18 performances of this production, one single petal fell perfectly, gently into the palm of my right hand. Call it superstitious, call it coincidence, call it anything you like – all I know is that I felt my Dad with me, and I finished the aria in tears. It was indeed a special moment of gratitude.