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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Gelnhausen Concert Coverage and Town Photos from last Saturday!

This past weekend my colleagues and I sang in a concert located in the neighboring town of Gelnhausen  The concert served to promote the upcoming Opernakademie performance of Rossini's Barber of Seville, and to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Opernakademie Bad Orb, and all the hard work and dedication that has gone into producing successful summer Opera performances year after year.  Since 1986 in July and August international emerging artists come to Bad Orb specifically because of its wonderful reputation for putting on quality performances, allowing younger singers to sing important roles for future use in developing their career, and its well-known capacity for acting as a platform from which these emerging artists receive opportunities to take on larger projects at important opera houses in Germany and internationally.

Therefore, there was quite a lot to celebrate at this past Saturday's concert, and we all had a wonderful time, however, as is now normal seemingly, my lack of performance photo skills has turned out to have yielded me exactly zero photos of my colleagues or myself in our performance attire! As exasperated as you may be at this moment, I am hoping this next piece of news might soften the blow a bit.  I do have a consolation prize for all of you since I know that photos are important when giving a sense of atmosphere to a place: I have posted below a bunch of photos of my walk through the town of Gelnhausen in the hours before the concert took place Saturday night.   So, at least you're not reading this article and going away empty-handed! ;)  And, I have captioned each picture so that you can get an idea of what you're looking at- plus, I even hyperlinked the title of this blog post, so if you click on the blog post title, you will be taken to the webpage for the town of Gelnhausen itself, if you'd like to get more info on it for future reference.  Okay, enjoy!

This was a tower where in the Middle Ages they actually used to burn witches at the stake. Thank goodness that nowadays we have feminism and have ditched that custom, otherwise who knows if I'd still be here (eek!)!

This gate in the center of the picture was part of the old town wall in the Middle Ages- it was a lookout post, presumably.

A look up one of the streets towards the Marienkirche in the center of the old part of town.

Part of the 'Markplatz' (which is used as a parking place when the open-air market isn't taking place) and the Marienkirche (Catholic and from the Medieval Ages) is in the background.

More beautiful 'Fachwerkhaeuser'.

Another angle of the open-air marketplace transformed into a parking place in its off-hours.

This is actually a bust of the original European inventor of the telephone,  Johann Reis, who was born in Gelnhausen, and you can read about him more on Wikipedia by clicking here.

A very skinny street! Certainly not a two-way....!

I love Medieval door hinges!!

This was only a fraction of the large staircase leading from the Marktplatz up to the Marienkirche.

The organ in the Marienkirche and part of my finger...sorry but it was tough to take a pic without flash and have it come out clear, let alone worry about silly things like fingers in the photo.... :P

The main altar inside the Marienkirche.

This is the 'engste Strasse' which means 'skinniest street' and which was used during the  Middle Ages to connect the two main trade centers of Leipzig and Frankfurt, and to find out more, but in German, click here.

The Marienkirche from the opposite side.

The towers, or 'Türme' from the Marienkirche.

Me sitting on a bench in the 'engste Strasse'.

This is painted on one of the buildings on the 'engste Strasse' and it says , "From Leipzig on the Pleisse (a river name presumably) to Frankfurt on the Main (definitely a river name), this is the skinniest street from the entire trip, and so the width of this street was used as the measurement of how wide the wagons were allowed to be loaded (so that they could pass through here)."

Friday, July 22, 2011

Barber of Seville in Bad Orb, Germany: First Two Weeks' Update!

This particular entry is meant to provide an insight into my first two weeks here in Bad Orb thus far while working on the role of Rosina in Rossini's opera, The Barber of Seville, or in German "Der Barbier von Sevilla".

The photos below are included to be a sort of progressive explanation of my experiences during these two weeks, almost like a photo journal.
Our first day of staging, and part of our scenery! During this day, we went through the First Act musically, and then began right away to become acquainted with the acting out of the First Act Finale, and putting it on the stage as it would look in the final product.

Different angle, same scenery :) Though, the set has changed even further from what it looks like here, and it is currently really much more developed than what you can now see.  A side note: the tables on the stage are where the Stage Director (Carlos Krause, a Kammersaenger from the Oper Frankfurt, and this year has been working in Opera for 50 years!) and the Stage Director's Assistant, and the Apprentice sit (two very wonderful gals, Klara and Svenja).

The Konzerthalle in Bad Orb where the performance will be, and notice- this theater is relatively flat as the chairs go further back- there are only a few steps towards the back, which makes for a great experience for the audience member- they all have the same perspective of the stage action- whether they sit in the first row or the last row, which I think is awesome!

This photo was taken while I was standing on the stage of the  Konzerthalle, and thinking about whether or not my voice will carry to the back row over the noise of a whole orchestra (that's daunting!)....

More Konzerthalle...  (It's an 890 seat theater total!) and it has been where I have been spending the most time here- I'm normally in rehearsals each day from 10am-1pm and then from 5pm-8pm, and when I have time off in between those two rehearsal periods, I normally stay there in the theater and eat lunch, practice some more on the stage, and figure out acting ideas while I'm alone and undisturbed.  It's actually a great place to think.

The Gradierwerk, otherwise known as the Saline.  This is an interesting contraption which used to be used to produce salt- the salty water from their salt springs here in town would be allowed to flow over these special branches in this building from top to bottom, and then the salt would be left in the bottom after the water had been absorbed and all but gotten rid of through the dripping process (after of course the highly concentrated salt water that was left at the bottom was boiled so that the salt was the only part left over).  And, nowadays it is a great treatment for the lungs; many coal miners have gone through this to cleanse their lungs of dust, which happens through walking through a small hallway directly in the middle of the building- and of course I've done it several times---your lungs can never be too clean as a singer, right? :)

Part of the 'Kurgebiet' in the middle of Bad Orb and the way that I bike or walk to the Konzerthalle (Opera house) every day that it doesn't rain.  And when it does rain, I am lucky enough to be given a ride to the theater.

My transportation to and from the Konzerthalle (when it's not raining)!

A more artistic view of my transportation, and a good way to exercise!! :)

The Gradierwerk from another angle--it's huge, right? And notice the beautiful flowerbeds along the Gradierwerk- they surely are so nice because of the abundance of rain we've gotten lately- but also because Bad Orb is a really wonderfully clean place- it's just amazing!

One of the ends of the Gradierwerk.... and the stairs leading up to the platform which leads you through the middle of the Gradierwerk so that you can inhale the salt vapors!

The Thermae Spa and Pool in Bad Orb--it's awesome, trust me!!!  I was there last Friday afternoon after our rehearsals ended early because our Stage Director was performing in Bonn, and the gray bubble-looking part of the building has got to be my favorite; it's a round room with a beautiful stained-glass looking light in the middle of the ceiling which changes colors slowly- and the room is closed off by doors because there is a round pool with highly concentrated salt water (much like the Dead Sea I'm guessing) and you can simply float there and listen to the music that they play under the water--it's heavenly--a truly otherworldly experience, particularly for a music lover.  Check it out here by clicking on this link! And this is for those who want to check it out in english- click here.

The Thermae next to the Gradierwerk in the Kurgebiet, and experience the current webcam view of what's going on outside the Thermae by clicking here.

The garden behind the Kurhotel an der Therma. Somehow this garden reminded me of what I always imagined 'Alice in Wonderland' to look like in the scenes when Alice is playing croquet with the Queen of Hearts (not sure why).

The bottom and back side of the Opera house (a.k.a Konzerthalle).

The outside ampitheater behind the Opera house.
These types of houses are called in German "Fachwerkhaeuser", which just is their name for the style of how they are built- meaning that they look very "Middle Ages". There are many good examples of these types of houses in Bad Orb, and I am told that they are many of these as well in a town which I will travel to tomorrow to perform a small preview concert- I will certainly post pics of those too for you to compare to these.
Does anyone else besides me think that the house in the middle seems to be leaning ever slightly to the left? :)  I guess that's what happens when you live in a house for over 600 years...
Right behind this silly traffic gate you can see a tower made of stone and a bit of the old town wall which used to surround the entire central part of Bad Orb.
This is a modern sculpture on the north side of the town wall, and behind that is a silver archway which is the entrance to the "Fussgaengerzone" which means the street where shopping happens, and which is only for pedestrians.
This is the Bad Orb trainstation, which is nowadays only used by one steam train traveling between here and the next town over, Waechtersbach, on Sunday afternoons as a sort of travel through history transportation-wise.
There are the train tracks and the bit of blue sky that popped up today-yay!
This is the 'Kleinstes Haus', or smallest house, in all of this state of Germany (called Hessen) and it's only 1.5 meters wide (which is 4.5 feet)!
This is the Kleinstes Haus again, with the older of the two Catholic Churches in town next to it (the yellow building on the top of the hill).
This is one of the side streets in Bad Orb, with lots of pretty Fachwerkhaeuser (Medieval-style houses).
This is a picture of one of my favorite Eis-Cafes (Ice cream restaurants- literally, they serve all sorts of delicious ice cream specialties- mostly sundaes) in town.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

IVAI Virginia Wrap-Up: Photos!!

My favorite practice room in Henderson Hall, # 308B (and me in the mirror-lol!)
Since I didn't get a chance to post these photos on here while I was actually in Blacksburg, VA at IVAI, I will post them on here now, so that you guys can see after the fact what things were like there.  I honestly should and would have taken more photos of more people and places in VA while I was there, but you know, as you can see from my photos here- the majority of my time was spent in this lovely little practice room (which amounted to something like 3 hours a day) and then the rest of my time was spent in lessons (something like 4-5 hours a day) and then the rest of my time was spent sleeping, eating, or some other uneventful but necessary thing like that.  However, I do resolve to take more photos when I am in Bad Orb (and have done so already - yahoo!) because I do realize that I am sorely in need of photos with people in them from my time at IVAI.

More of my favorite practice room (including my singing stuff!)

More favorite practice room...

Can you tell how much I liked this room? ;)

This photo was taken after I sung in the Strauss and Mozart Concert on Friday 7/24.

A historical house in Blacksburg, which was moved (hence it's on supports here).

Two lovely ladies and colleagues, Miss Courtney Johnson and Miss Rachel Elise Sigman!

Looking across the 'Drillfield' from one side of campus to the other.

Path leading across the Drillfield.

More drillfield- you can get a sense of how huge it was here.

This is near the lake on campus called the 'Duck Pond'.

Brook leading to the 'Duck Pond'.

Random dorm buildings that I liked with a cool roof.

More random classroom buildings.

Part of the brook and Duck Pond where they met.

Duck Pond.

More Duck Pond (I took a 3 hour walk that night to get these photos)!

Squirrel friend!

More Drillfield, this time at dusk.

More cool buildings.

The main hall on campus- not sure its name but...important building.

Part of the memorial on campus.

More cool dorm buildings.

Dusk on campus in the horticulture garden!

Memorial on campus to soldiers who fought in wars and went to VT.

Campus at sunset----BEAUTIFUL!!!

VT School logo hedge near Squires (the music bldg where we were).

Cool shady part of campus on opposite side from where we were.

My wonderful roomie, Kasia Sadej and me after the welcome party at the President's House!