I'm coming to you live from a bar/restaurant/internet cafe a few blocks from the apartment I've rented for the month of September. For some reason, the internet in the apartment decided to quit today, and even though I spent 2 hours with 2 germans trying to fix it, alas, it was not fixed. So for now, I have to come down the street and log on. If I look to my right, I see a group of 9 people huddled in the corner tables of the restaurant with handheld video games and a computer having some kind of group video challenge. They are all just sitting there looking at their little nintendos (or whatever they are - I'm video game illiterate) and not saying a word. Now that's community. I'm drinking a german pilsner from the draft and eating something - I'm not 100% sure what it is because my german still sucks.
The last couple of days have been both delightful and scary. Mostly I've had a blast - the only scary part is when I think about what's going to happen on the 18th of September (my first performance). So far, I have had a total of one hour and 45 minutes of rehearsal with just me and the director, and otherwise I've watched the entire opera about twice. A couple times yesterday and today the director had me jump into some of the ensemble scenes, since this will be my only opportunity to interact with the other singers. They will leave after the performances and go to their respective homes, only to return the night before the next performance. Basically, this experience is going to prepare me for if I ever get called in on a moments notice to fly somewhere the next day and sing a performance without rehearsal because someone is sick. This is certainly the least rehearsal I will ever have had for a performance, but it's the role I've sung the most often, so I guess it balances out.
Yesterday, when the director put me into the finale of the first act, I surprised everyone by basically knowing where to go. It was surprising even to me because I had only seen them run the finale twice, and I had never walked it myself. But I have been double cast a few times before, and I have this method that allows me to memorize the blocking without ever actually doing it. I just need to imagine the entire scene in my head and picture myself doing all the moves. Then somehow, the moves enter into my memory and I'm able to stand up and do them. It only works if I know the music - everyone's parts, not just mine - extremely well, so I can basically rehearse in my head while I'm walking down the street. It also helps that this happens to be an incredibly nice and supportive group of colleagues, and they quietly remind me where I'm supposed to be whenever I'm in earshot. Which is good practice for them, because they will probably have to incorporate those whispers into their performances on September 18th. I know I'm always talking about how wonderful my colleagues are, but honestly, if I had to generalize I would say most opera singers happen to be really nice supportive people. That's been my experience anyway.
Tomorrow I will watch the final rehearsal, which will be on the stage with the orchestra. I could probably actually do the rehearsal - I think I have a good idea about most of the staging now - but since the conductor who will conduct the first two performances is not the same conductor that will conduct my performances, it doesn't really make sense for me to sing a rehearsal with him. So I will watch, listen, and learn as much as a I can. And maybe between now and the 18th I will take up praying.
In an unrelated story, I got a mention today from my very favorite opera blogger, Opera Chic. She not only plugged my story in The Daily Beast, but she pointed out the fact that I share a name with a Mexican pop singer who recently gained some infamy for making a sex tape. So now when you google my name, "Jennifer Rivera sex tape" is the third or fourth entry that google wants to send you to. Incidentally, if you've never checked out Opera Chic's blog, she's pretty much the coolest, smartest, most erudite yet funny blog about opera on the web. So check it, baby.
P.S. I'm SO HAPPY that I have all these new readers who are also commenting on my blog entries. It gives me great joy to share all of this with you, so please keep the comments coming! One of the weird things about this job is that I'm having all these great and sometimes crazy experiences, but I'm so often all alone. Knowing that I'm sharing them with people makes everything a little more interesting. Plus, when something really horrible happens to me, I can immediately console myself by saying, "God - I'm such an idiot! I can't wait to write about this on my blog!"