One week before rehearsals begin
Sunday – Jet Lag and Panic!
I am jet lagged. I got back from Taiwan yesterday after being Brünnhilde on a crane in the incredible La Fura dels Baus production of Götterdämmerung. Probably this was the most exciting production of anything I will ever do. It was half circus, half opera and had actual stunt men in it. I cook Sunday lunch for everyone and take the dog for two very muddy walks during which I contemplate the fact that I don’t really like Salome very much. She is spoiled and I worry that she is vain and shallow. I don’t love her. I am in love with her music but not in love with the character which upsets me. If I can love Elektra I ought to be able to love anybody.
Andrew sneezes a few times. I am suspicious he has a cold. I DO NOT WANT THE COLD. I feel horribly like my Salome preparation time is running out and it suddenly dawns on me that I actually only have two weeks of rehearsals once I get to Hannover to do a role I’ve never sung before, and that some of those days will be days off. I guesstimate that I will have 10 days of practical hands on preparation from the beginning of the project until the performance. This is terrifying. I translated, learned and more or less memorised the role before I went to Taiwan, but some of it hasn’t wanted to stick in my brain – some of my hard drive being taken up with Götterdämmerung.
I spray Andrew with hand gel, spray Sterimar up my nose, take a Bercocca and have an early night. I console myself that I have the whole day on Monday to make sure I am on top of Salome.
Monday – Teeth!
I spend 3 hours at the orthodontist’s having new attachments glued on to my yucky crooked teeth and new aligners fitted. I put the new aligners in. Two of the attachments fall off. I spend another hour having the attachments glued back on. I go home and try to remove the aligners so that I can have a much-needed caffeine fix and some lunch. They won’t come out. I cry. I eventually get them out, breaking all of my fingernails in the process and dislodging two more attachments. I ring the orthodontist and arrange to go back tomorrow for glueing. I practise all afternoon. I can get through scenes 2, 3 and the end of scene 4 with my karaoke Salome track which I made by playing the piano reduction into my electric piano at half speed one hand at a time and then speeding it up without cocking it up. This is progress. Just the tricky interjecty bits left to re-memorise. I try not to panic about these. Andrew definitely has a cold. I spray antibacterial spray everywhere and stuff some more pointless Sterimar up my nose.
Tuesday – University, More Teeth and The Plague!
I drive to University, singing along to my karaoke track instead of listening to my audiobook – this is a major concession towards being professional and prepared, because my audiobook is really exciting and has just got to a good bit. At University, I spend an hour telling all of the new students whether they are sopranos, altos, tenors or basses. This is because last year we discovered that nearly all of the basses and baritones were singing tenor in University Choir because “it was cool!” Sigh. It didn’t do them or the choir any good. I meet lots of keen, lovely new students. They all breathe Freshers Flu on me. I want to kill them. I cannot be ill this week – I still need to finish re-memorising scene 4.
I karaoke my way back to Chesterfield and spend 2 more hours at the orthodontist’s having new attachments put on my teeth to replace the ones that fell off yesterday. I ask for a hook to help me remove the aligners until my fingernails grow back (I’ve been researching this on the internet). The nurse shows me a removing hook which is bendy and doesn’t work. I suggest going to Hobbycraft across the road to buy a metal crochet hook as a JOKE. The nurse thinks this is actually a good idea. One of the technicians is dispatched to Hobbycraft. I go home to practise the bits I don’t know in scene 4 and to have lunch. The aligners won’t come out. Crochet hook fail. I cry and ring the orthodontist because I can’t eat until I can get them out. More to the point I can’t practise with them in. I go back to the orthodontist, who eventually forces them out, and four more of the attachments fall off. I sit there for another hour while they are replaced. That’s a total of 7 hours of orthodontics now and I still haven’t finished memorising scene 4. I am really panicking now. I also start to feel ill. Perfect. Andrew has kindly given me his cold. When I get home he is coughing up green slime. Even better. It isn’t just a cold. I pointlessly shove more Sterimar up my nose and start mainlining Berocca. The orthodontist rings and says she has worked out what the problem is with getting the aligners in and out and if I can just pop back tomorrow she can adjust them so that I will be able to eat. Excellent. I go to bed.
Wednesday – Plague and Teeth!
I wake up feeling like DEATH. I have a temperature and a sore throat and a vocal range closely resembling my husband’s. He has full-blown man-flu by this time, so it is up to me to take Juno for a walk in the pouring rain, furiously muttering Salome as we go, my karaoke track in my headphones, before cycling back to the Claire the orthodontist. She wrenches my aligners out and some more attachments fall off. Claire decides the best thing to do is to take ALL of them off and start again from the beginning. I sit there for 2 hours while she does this. This time she does it herself so there can’t be any inadvertent cockups. I feel guilty about probably giving her Andrew’s cold. She adjusts my aligners by snipping them with some nail scissors. They now go in and out. Hurrah!
I cycle home in the rain and make homemade soup for tea, hoping it will see off Andrew’s cold. I go to bed, promising myself I will calmly learn the rest of scene 4 tomorrow all day in my music room with the piano.
Thursday – Hair and Plague!
I remember I have to get my hair cut and coloured – it hasn’t been done for 3 months. I look like Boris Johnson with worse roots. Andrew says that it doesn’t matter because I will have a wig for the show. I reply that I don’t want to walk around looking like Boris Johnson. I snottily walk Juno in the rain (karaoke). Andrew ambushes me before I leave to ask me about something pointless like bins, which means I have to set a new land speed record on my bike in order to drop off all of my other sets of aligners at the orthodontist’s so that Claire can make holes in them with her nail scissors before collapsing into Phil’s hairdressing chair. I am feeling really unwell by now. Phil laughs at my appearance and then gets on with doing something about it. He also has a cold. We commiserate with each other. “We can do what we like with my hair cos I’m having a wig for this one!” I say blithely (the previous Salome had beautiful long brown hair down to her bum, and I’m assuming I’ll get that too). I learn the rest of scene 4 at the hairdresser’s, eliciting lots of strange looks from the other clients.
I get home and walk Juno in the rain. Andrew stages a miracle recovery as soon as I get back. I start coughing up green slime. I cancel my long awaited and longed-for coaching on Salome in London for tomorrow, knowing I won’t be well enough to go.
Friday – Plague, Steam and Honey!
Green slime situation is suboptimal. Throat feels like swallowing razor blades. I curse Andrew, have a moral battle with myself, and decide to ring my GP, even though I know I have a virus, that I don’t need antibiotics and that the answer to my question is “I don’t know when you will get your voice back”.
My GP Surgery is, as always, amazing. They fit me in at 9 am with our new doctor. I am apprehensive – I have trained the other doctors already and they know me and what I do and the level of paranoia that I have, and are usually willing to give me some pills to get rid of me quickly. This new doctor, however, is fabulous. Someone, possibly medical school, has already trained her. Not only does she know all about voices and laryngitis and bronchitis (both of which she says I have which makes me feel slightly less guilty about taking up an appointment) and green slime, but she is also open to the idea of giving me a prescription for antibiotics as long as I promise not to take them unless I get worse. She also reassures me that I am not going to give myself liver failure again by taking half a lemsip once a day. I leave happy and reassured.
I sing Salome all the way through twice (silently two octaves down) and furiously write the words out lots of times. I listen to all of the bits I don’t sing in, but have to know and find landmarks to listen out for. I become monumentally frustrated because I now feel that I know the opera and have learned it really thoroughly and now just don’t know if I am going to be able to sing it.
I have half a lemsip. I steam. I eat soup. I make a nest on the settee with the dog. I steam some more. I find some ancient Manuka honey in the cupboard and eat it – honey doesn’t go off- the honey they buried with the ancient Egyptians was still edible. Honey is magic.
By a miracle and without any of the magic drugs nestling in my suitcase, my vocal cords are clear. I am still coughing up disgusting green slime, and pouring green snot out of my nose, but the bit in the middle where the important stuff happens is working. This is good news. I sing Salome through once all the way through in the right octave. It sounds rancid, but at least I know it. I know I’m just well enough to go to Hannover, but am I well enough to go straight into the most intensive rehearsal period I’ve ever had? Will I get better in time to sing the role a fortnight from today? I pack my suitcase. It’s about half and half clothes and paranoid singer medicaments/inhalers/nebulisers/teabags.
Sunday – Airport!
Andrew and I set off for the station (normally a 7 minute drive away) 45 minutes before my train because of the Half Marathon. It’s a good thing we do, because the roads which are actually closed bear no resemblance to the ones that said they were going to be closed on the internet. I ran in the Half Marathon last year and am jealous of all the runners. My ramped up fitness campaign to prepare for the role has been sadly neglected this week as my priority was trying to get better. I feel horrible – still snotty and with a horrible cough. My voice is still working though and doesn’t seem to be any worse than yesterday. This is astonishing luck – laryngitis can last for weeks or even months. Touch wood, this little virus is making me feel awful, but it isn’t one of the lingering ones. I say goodbye to Andrew (and more importantly Juno) and sip lemsip from my flask on the train.
At Heathrow I am smug because my suitcase weighs exactly 23 kg. I feel too grotty to buy any last minute airport goods and just sit by the gate waiting for the plane. This saves me a fortune. I reach Hannover at around 10pm and decide I am poorly enough to deserve a taxi to my hotel (my theatre apartment won’t be ready until tomorrow). I collapse into bed, setting my alarm for 6am so that I will have time to watch the DVD of the production before work.
The Final Countdown
Day 1 – Monday – Imposter Syndrome!
I wake up and cough up lots of green slime. I do some paranoid sirening (sorry people in the next room) my voice is still remarkably clear. I watch the DVD. It’s difficult to know exactly how precise I will be expected to be. I try to note down the exact angle of Anne-Marie’s head and what ballet position her feet are in as well as where she is standing on the stage. I realise this probably isn’t necessary, but I have a bad case of imposter syndrome. I always assume that I will be fired on day 1. I particularly feel this right now – I don’t know that I can necessarily wow Stephan Zilias with my singing today… I look at the schedule – it’s dancing for the first 3 hours. I cough. I’m not sure I feel up to 3 hours of dancing. I must not make a bad impression though. I take half a lemsip and steam with my Nelson’s Inhaler and carry on writing down what Anne-Marie is doing with her arms. Maybe if I get the arms right I won’t be fired.
I set off in good time for the opera house, but underestimate how much feeling crap will slow me down. Also no one has told me that all of the roads between the opera house and the hotel are being dug up. I have to take several detours with my bloody heavy suitcase (medicine weighs a ton). I literally crash into the stage door at 9.50, a slightly feverish, sweaty mess. I am a bit panicky because I hate nearly being late and I don’t know where the rehearsal studio is. I stubbornly refuse to speak English, and because I am good at introducing myself in German, the Stage Door Man has an unrealistic impression of my ability to understand directions. I therefore know that I am supposed to go to the fourth floor but after that it’s a bit of a mystery.
I find the lift. In it is a very together-looking, striking man with perfect posture. He even moves beautifully while pressing the lift buttons. Red faced, perspiring heavily in my too-hot coat and sniffing unattractively, I grimly think to myself that the choreographer would probably prefer to be working with the striking man who moves beautifully than with me. The striking man follows me out of the lift and kindly helps me to find the rehearsal studio. I realise he is Mathias, the choreographer. I also quickly realise that he is as apprehensive about the lack of rehearsal time as I am. We get straight down to work. He is calm and patient and unlike any of the dance teachers I encountered in my youth. Accompanied by Maxim, our incredible repetiteur who specialises in being able to play impossible music and making it sound like music, I learn the dance in an hour, and the knot of panic which I have been carrying around with me since I got back from Taiwan starts to loosen ever so slightly.
In the break I have my first proper talk with Stephan, our conductor. I immediately know we are going to get on brilliantly. I’ve been very impressed with his conducting and with what he has to say about the music. He is obviously in love with the piece, and this makes me very happy. He is not panicking about the time we have. He is super-calm. He is incredibly well-prepared and knows the piece very well. He is obviously someone who functions excellently under pressure. This is reassuring and grounding. I resolve to be someone who functions excellently under pressure too.
Claudia, our revival director comes in and we prepare to start work on scene 3. I have met Claudia before when I came out to perform the Schlussgesang in the opening concert back in September. I already like her enormously. She explains the concept behind the production. I stop worrying about not liking Salome. Salome in this production is an abused teenager looking for love and guidance. She isn’t vain and shallow at all. Herod is an arsehole. I immediately fall in love with this version of Salome.
I meet Kostas who plays Jochanaan. I am convinced I have met him before and insist that we must have done something together. It isn’t until much later in the day that I realise with a huge amount of embarrassment that I have in fact seen him before, but that it was on the telly in Cardiff Singer of the World. I don’t tell him. It’s too humiliating. If you’re reading this Kostas you can have a big laugh at my expense! You were really good by the way!
We have the added bonus of meeting Ingo who directed the original production. He is very fired up about the concept and I start to get very excited about it too. Then I remember we have 10 days and that it’s a very complicated production with an interesting concept and start worrying that I won’t have time to absorb it all as well as getting the arms right. Ingo reassures me that I don’t have to do the same arms as Anne-Marie.
We finish the morning session at 2pm and I am whisked off for a costume fitting. My dress is perfect. We spend 45 minutes trying to find a good bra to go under it. The bras that are my official size vary wildly. Giving up on them, I try every bra on from a 30E to a 38AA. Eventually we find one that fits.
After this, I am exhausted and am in desperate need of more lemsip. I want to go straight to my apartment to dump my suitcases and sleep until the evening session. At the stage door, I receive a note saying that the apartment isn’t being cleaned until mid-afternoon. I cry just a tiny bit in the toilets and phone my agent who is sympathetic and reassuring and tells me to go to a hotel and to cancel the evening call if I feel dreadful. This makes me man-up. I can’t waste one of our precious 20 sessions! I go to drop off my suitcases. The cleaners are there. The apartment is filthy. I promise the cleaners that I will leave it very clean indeed when I move out. Slightly sceptical about what they will be able to achieve in an hour, I mooch snottily into town and buy groceries and all of the things which apartments never have (knives that actually cut, soap, washing up liquid…). I arrive back to find the place spotless. I decide I love Hannover, I love my apartment and that I particularly love the cleaners. By this time it’s time to go back to work. Fortified by honey and lemon I return to the theatre. I manage to do some singing and we set scene 3. We finish at 9pm. I have not been fired.
Day 2 – Tuesday – “Meal!”
I am woken up by the church bells. I feel every so slightly better and the slime is less green. I know I don’t really deserve this remission. I’ve gone back to work too soon and too intensively and I am very, very lucky that I seem to be throwing off this lurgy. I eat lots of my lovely groceries for breakfast and look at my map to orientate myself. I am right by the beautiful lake which I ran round several times when I was here doing the opening concert. I look longingly at my trainers and then remember I have 3 hours of dancing to do and that I am still not well.
We have a great morning session -I meet the rest of the cast involved with the dance. Mathias has a very sensitive bullshit detector and hates fake. I am not supposed to be “being sexy” in this dance. I am supposed to just be. Other people are supposed to find it sexy. I am also not supposed to be enjoying it. This is initially tricky because although I have the grace of a boisterous hippo, I love dancing and am enjoying it very much. Then I get told off (nicely) for doing the gestures like Mathias, not like Salome. I realise that I am not going to be able to do this dance superficially. Of course I don’t want to, but in my panic about the timescale, I was initially aiming to survive, not to get killed by the massive tonne of gold wall which moves up and down, to stand in the right place, in the light and to sing nicely. This is not going to be good enough.
The second half of the morning is setting scenes 1 and 2. I am completely delighted that Rupert who plays Narraboth is possibly the most accurate singer I’ve ever heard in terms of both pitch and rhythm. This makes my job so much less stressful than it might be otherwise. All of my scene 2 entries are dependent on him and he is rock solid.
We finish at 2. This means it is very late to have lunch. I go to the flat and make myself a sandwich. The evening session starts at 6. This means we are rehearsing at both lunchtime and dinner time. This is a problem. I am not hungry enough to eat anything before 6. By 7pm I am so hungry I want to eat my own arm (I would eat Jochanaan’s head but we aren’t doing that bit). I eat another sandwich after we finish at 9, and then panic about having acid reflux because of eating late. Panicking makes my acid reflux worse. I resolve to do better tomorrow and invent the new concept of “meal”. “Meal” is a large plate of food eaten at about 4.30.
Day 3 – Wednesday – Scene 4!
I am called for mid-morning today. I decide that my fitness regime has been abandoned for long enough and that running will help me shift the remaining slime. I am sensible and only do a slow, relaxed convalescent 5k. It feels HORRIBLE for the whole time I am doing it and BRILLIANT afterwards.
At work we get into Scene 4. The structure of Salome is that each scene is twice the length of and twice as difficult as the one before. Scene 4 is the monster. It is all VERY HARD. For me it is particularly hard as for the first 3 sections (two preceding the dance and one afterwards) I have several little interjections into what are effectively about 14 very difficult arias sung by Herod and to a lesser extent Herodias. These involve a lot of shouty German for Herod and a lot of counting for me. Robert, our Herod, doesn’t shout it though. He sings it. He has an incredible voice, and I am not surprised to learn that he also sings Tristan and other big heroic Heldentenor roles. He is also a mine of useful information about where to stand and where not to stand in the theatre for acoustics, about where the light is good and less good and about the opera (he has been in it lots of times). I am supposed to hate Herod. I love Robert. He makes what could be nearly impossible and stressful a very pleasant rehearsal. By lunchtime we’re quite good at the bit up to the dance. Claudia and I decide that I am not going to have a wig. It’s a VERY good job that I didn’t cancel my haircut or it would have been Boris Johnson as Salome.
I have an enormous plate of pasta for “meal”. I am starving after my run. We have dancing in the evening. We are getting better at the dance too. A really good day.
Day 4- Thursday – Head!
At 10 am I am greeted by a horrifically realistic latex version of Kostas’s severed head on a silver plate. I am not allowed to play with it yet – I have a very unrealistic doll-like head to practise with instead, as they need to make sure that Kostas’s head’s mouth opens so that I can put my fingers inside it. Claudia and I spend a very happy morning working out things I can do with it. We decide that the more “normally” I treat it, and the more I talk to it just as if it is a lover with body attached, the more disturbing it is for everyone else.
In the evening everyone else comes to join in and watch me do my things with the head. We have got to the end of the opera in 4 days. We actually know what we’re doing in each scene from beginning to end in 4 days! But when we try to run Scene 4 I am all over the place and cock loads of it up and get angry with myself. I know that I have a lot to remember, but I am really disappointed that it didn’t go smoothly and that we had to stop. I’m also worried that my voice really only wanted to sing the big end bit once – I am used to pretty limitless reserves of stamina, and it reminds me that I am not really quite better yet, so when Claudia and Mathias come to me to talk about characterisation and about approaching it on a deeper level, I am not in a good place. Mathias’s fake detector has been detecting some superficiality and Claudia really wants to bring me back to the concept of the show. I am brought down to earth with a huge bump – I thought I’d been doing well, and that everyone was pleased. All of a sudden, I feel that I am doing a terrible job, because I can see that they’re right. Then I am doubly angry with myself for making a bad impression. I cry. Mathias is horrified and crucified with guilt which makes me feel a thousand times worse. I sniffle and explain that I feel under a huge amount of pressure because it’s a role debut, and it’s a role debut in ten days, and that I’m scared, and that I’ve been so, so scared that my voice wasn’t going to come back in time. Mathias says it’s ok to be scared. Claudia and I make a plan for how to make it better.
Day 5 – Friday – Scene 3!
Some of the things that we’ve chosen to do with the head evoke memories of the earlier love scene (and in our version it is a love scene) between Salome and Jochanaan, so today we go back to revisit scene 3 after having set the end so that we can clarify these moments for me and Kostas, and hopefully for the audience. I start Friday determined not to be flaky. I am not going to let my fear get on top of me again. It is not going to help. I know my voice is tired, so I decide to be sensible and mark for the whole day. That takes the pressure off vocally, gives my voice a chance to rest and also means I can just focus on the characterisation. This turns out to be a good strategy. We work hard all morning and we are really happy with Scene 3.
In the evening, the music call is cancelled – everyone is tired or ill or in Die Zauberflöte – and we have a dance call for me and Robert to practise all of the Herod/Salome bits. We work hard and iron these out, and then we decide to have the rest of the “rehearsal” in Oscar’s cocktail bar as a reward.
Day 6 – Saturday – Run!
In every rehearsal process there is a turning point where everything seems to come together. For us, this is it. This is our studio run – the first and last time we’ll try to get from the beginning to the end in the rehearsal room. I’m nervous and take a while to settle. I’m not too happy with Scene 2 – I’ve not quite got the energy right talking to Narraboth and the soldiers and I’m being a bit fake-flirty in terms of energy, but I hold my nerve and get it together by Scene 3 which goes very well.
My voice decides to cooperate properly and I’m able to sing the piece all the way through. This is lucky because the casting director decides to pay us a visit and sit in for Scene 4. I do not disgrace myself.
We celebrate by going for a pizza, and then I attempt to run it off by going all the way round the lake. Slowly. Running still feels like a massive effort.
Day 7 – Monday – Stage!
Sunday is a day off – I run round the lake and for the first time it feels good and relaxing. I get to the opera house early on Monday to warm up. We are on the stage for the first time. This rehearsal is crucial, because it’s the only chance we have to focus on the staging with the lighting in place. It’s also the first time we will have the real distances to play with – the stage is not very wide in Hannover but it is very deep and it’s not possible to recreate that depth in the studio. Lots of the entrances for me and Kostas involve walking the whole depth to the front and timing it quite carefully with the music. The dance will also feel very different.
It goes very well. The theatre is a wonderful space to sing in and thanks to Robert, I know all of the best places to stand in acoustically. We have to adjust things for the lighting which takes time, but I can see how the whole show is going to work and I feel really positive about it despite us not getting to the end. I’m slightly terrified that the only time I will get to practise the big end scene with the real head in the space will be at Wednesday’s dress rehearsal.
In the evening we talk over what went well and what didn’t. Claudia is worried that we have lost the intimacy of the rehearsal room that we had in Scenes 1 and 2 in the bigger space. This also ties in with my feeling of it being a bit fake-flirty on Saturday. We also discuss my relationship with the space and particularly with the huge golden wall. I need to inhabit the space more and interact differently with the wall. I can see how this will work better and I spend some time thinking about how I will do it differently on Wednesday. We spend some quality time with Kostas’s head- finishing what we didn’t quite finish in the morning.
Day 8 – Tuesday – Sitz!
I get up very early and go to the theatre to warm up before walking 30 minutes up the road to the orchestral rehearsal space for our Sitzprobe. There are so many players that we run out of posh music stands and some people have to use the flimsy metal ones I had for school orchestra.
I know I have to be very careful today. My voice is back and it’s working well, but I have to remember I am only just better, and that it will not be possible to balance the sound in the rehearsal room – for that we need the auditorium and the pit. The Sitzprobe is the first chance I get to sing Salome with orchestra, but my dress rehearsal is tomorrow. I have to sing well within what I can do today and not push. I wouldn’t normally want to sing the role on two consecutive days even when really fighting fit.
I am so impressed with Stephan’s conducting. He is brilliant with the orchestra – so clear and so expressive. He is firm, calm and asks politely when he wants things to be different. His handling of the short rehearsal time is masterful. I sing all of my bits with no problems and listen carefully so I get a proper idea of what to expect tomorrow.
We don’t get to the end. We didn’t expect to, but it means I’ll be singing some of the music for the first time with orchestra in the dress rehearsal, and for the second time in the performance.
Day 9 – Wednesday – Knickers!
I get up even earlier as I have to be in makeup at 8.10 am. Today we are in costume and they are taking pictures for the website and the programme. I decide to give myself a treat and take coffee in my travel mug to drink during makeup. I do not realise that I have left yesterday’s lemongrass and ginger teabag in my travel mug. Lemongrass and ginger flavoured coffee is not a success.
The makeup is beautiful. My dress is great – it’s a bit too long so 5 minutes before we start two wardrobe ladies are sewing the hem up from either side. The underwear is not a win though. Knowing that blood is going to get EVERYWHERE, wardrobe are providing me with stage underwear – stunt pants! This underwear has to be big enough to be modest as my dress is split up to the navel, but not so obvious as to be visible when we don’t want it to be. Wardrobe, trying to be kind, have given me some Spanx. Unfortunately shapewear and my bottom do not have a good relationship. I am a size 8 woman with a size 12 bum. Shapewear, unless it goes all the way up to my boobs and down to my knees tends to cut into my massive arse and give me 4 buttocks. We decide that this is not a good look. I go on stage in my own big black knickers which I have fortunately had the foresight to wear to the theatre instead, and I resolve to investigate the underwear department in Kaufhoff Galerie on Friday when we have a day off.
We run the opera without stopping. Normal for a Dress Rehearsal. Not necessarily normal on only day 9. Stephan is brilliant and the orchestra sounds wonderful. I know there are some balance issues to sort out but I try to be disciplined and not to over-sing. I feel much more connected to the space and feel that my characterisation is much more honest. The dance goes well, even though I’m still working out what to do with my dress. I am a bit thrown by the amount of blood dripping off the head. There is just so much more than we had in the studio, and it is so icky! I pray that the wardrobe ladies aren’t going to be cross about how much of it I am getting all over their beautiful costume. I’m also conscious that I am flashing my knickers at the audience quite a lot while sliding down the wall and crawling across the stage in the navel-split dress. This is potentially suboptimal, but all in all I feel the run goes well.
After we’ve finished, we have music notes from the music staff. They’ve been listening and have suggestions. I’m going to try to take these on board, but I now don’t have any chances to try anything new out except in a performance, which is not really the time to be trying out new things. I’d feel much more secure with just one more rehearsal, but there isn’t one so I’m just going to have to do my best.
We go upstairs to rehearsal room 3 for notes from Stephan, Claudia, and Mathias which is FREEZING! Germans have a firm belief that getting cold feet makes you sick. I am still covered in blood so I sit shivering in my dressing gown and slippers. Mathias lends me his spare pare of socks and Stephan gives me his coat. Claudia and I have a brief discussion about the head. Laura, the Intendant, has spotted my “blood is icky” face and “blood is icky” hands, and we want the chance to try doing the scene without me making this particular face or doing those particular hands before Saturday, so we agree to have a special “blood” rehearsal in the evening. Mathias also wants to help me work out how not to flash my knickers at the audience when sliding down the wall in my navel-split dress. I have a hot shower, and we all go out for a massive “meal”.
In the evening we rehearse “blood” and “knickers” and then that’s it. I’m ready to go on and give Salome my best shot on day 10! Without a doubt, this has been the most intense rehearsal period I’ve ever attempted. I am still scared about tomorrow, but as Mathias says, it’s ok to be scared. I’m also very excited and incredibly grateful to all of my wonderful colleagues who are making what is very nearly impossible a reality!