I got an email from my agent last night telling me that they had changed the first rehearsal today from 10 in the morning til 4 in the afternoon, and I was psyched because I had a feeling getting up at what felt like 2 in the morning wasn't going to be conducive me having my first day trying to work in Italian or to good singing. I needn't have worried.
So, I woke up this morning and took a leisurely stroll to the outdoor market which is only a few blocks from my hotel. It is apparently the largest of it's kind in europe, and it did seem huge and fantastic. The best part is the produce - there are just rows and rows of gorgeous tomatoes and strawberries and arugula and oranges. Everything is beautifully fresh and very cheap! I bought about 8 perfect on the vine tomatoes for 30 cents. Even with the weak dollar, it's still cheap in the exchange! In addition to the outdoor market, there is an indoor one with meats, breads and cheeses, and I decided to try my luck at buying some prosciutto since I have whole-heartedly given up my vegetarian ways. The problem with buying something like prosciutto is trying to explain how much you want. First of all, they weigh everything in kilos here, and I have no concept of how much a kilo is. I just told the woman I wanted some prosciutto, and she put the meat on the deli slicer and started making a pile. As the pile of prosciutto grew and grew, I was freaking out thinking that she was going to cut up the whole ham-hock and give it to me, but eventually she stopped to show me the thickness of the slices and I cried "Basta basta!!!" She looked at me curiously and asked (in italian) but what are you going to do with so little prosciutto??" I replied "but it's only for me!" and she kind of gave me a knowing look and said ." Oh, sei solo." And let me have what she deemed was a tiny amount of cured ham because I was solo. I don't know whether her solo meant alone or single, but either way, she seemed sad for me. I'm surprised she didn't give me the meat for free in sympathy.
I went home and took a nap and had lunch with my friend who is in town, and made my way to the theater for the first rehearsal. I had to explain who I was to the guard at the artists entrance and he had someone show me the way to the rehearsal room (and thank god because it was a total maze and I could never have found it on my own). The guy who showed me was this big stage-hand looking guy, and when people told me that all the men in Italy were going to fawn over me and tell me I'm beautiful THEY LIED. This guy, who you'd think would be especially nice to a tall blond american, walked so fast and didn't even look back at me to make sure I was keeping up with him. He walked backstage through all these stage-hands and around this corner and when I hesitated for a second because I was confused, he just shouted "VIENI - VIENI QUI!" in an annoyed tone. Finally after walking through the stage and taking two elevators he kind of pointed in the direction of a room.
I peeked in the window of the door and saw that the room was full of people, which scared me because I was 10 minutes early and in general, Italians are not early. I hesitatingly walked into the room and stood back for a minute, hoping somebody would notice me and take some pity. Nobody did. Everybody was sort of standing around like something had already happened, so I asked the first person I saw if this was in fact Clemenza di Tito rehearsal. It was, and it turns out that it started at 3 and not 4. I guess they changed it and tried to contact my agent but weren't successful. So now here I am, my first rehearsal for my first gig in Italy and I'm an hour late. Great.
So, after the gentleman I had asked if I was in the right place explained to me that I was late, he just walked away and left me standing there alone. Finally somebody else (who I later learned was the very nice stage manager) took pity on me and started introducing me to people, but I have to say, they were like "yeah, who are you?" It's funny, in the States, somebody from the opera company picks you up and makes sure you get to your hotel, where a welcome packet is waiting for you explaining everything like how to get to the theater and when your first rehearsal is, and what will happen at said rehearsal. Then you arrive and usually have some kind of meet and greet where everybody introduces themselves, maybe says where they live, and welcomes you with open arms. Here apparently, you find your own way, guess what time to arrive, and then just stand there stupidly. I gleaned that what I had missed was the explanation of the production by the director, but the very nice costume designer showed me the drawings of the costumes (while I stood there stupidly) and they look really cool, as does the mock up of the set, which I looked at during another moment when nobody was talking to me. Then I had no idea what we were about to do - staging, musical, which cast, so I just kind of took a chair and sat in it. Of course, when it because clear what we were going to do (musical rehearsal) I realized that I was sitting right in the middle of the first cast, and the whole second cast was sitting on the opposite side of the room together. I'm in the second cast, but it was too late to move, so I just sat there again, feeling like a total dummy.
The conductor rehearsed all the musical numbers with the first cast, and I was told that we'd have a 30 minute break and then return, I assumed to rehearse the music for the second cast. But when we got back I discovered that we were going to be staging - the first cast again, and I was going to be getting a very sore butt from all that sitting around. I'm actually not complaining for real about all the watching though, because it's kind of easier to be watching at first in a situation that is so new for me. Although at the end of the rehearsal, the director asked me if I had sung this role before, and when I answered "no" He said "Oh no! That's terrible because you'll never get enough rehearsal in the second cast." Excellent.
But the good news is, I actually spoke and understood a great deal of Italian today, and it's only the first day. I have no idea what we're doing tomorrow, but at least I know what time rehearsal starts.
At least I think I know.