Rise and shine readers, it’s day seven of our 2013 tour. Well, we have risen, but there isn’t a whole lot of shining going on. Some people slept great, some of us didn’t. Morgan and I are in the latter group. I need to learn how to turn my brain off at night… The ladies are ready on time and we’re just waiting on the guys. We decide to head down to the cars and wait there. That’s when we see something we never thought we’d see… the guys, all 4 of them, are already there and waiting for us. I think the fresh air has revitalized them. It’s either that or they’re hungry and cold. It is very chilly here this morning so we all don our Opera Colorado jackets, (They’re not only stylish, they’re warm – check them out when you go see Don Giovanni) and head off to meet our sponsors for breakfast.
The ride is pretty quiet. In these blogs, it sounds like we’re having a lot of fun, and we are, but tour is also a whole lot of work. Long days, late nights, moving from place to place – being on the road sounds a lot more glamorous than it actually is. Still, no one is complaining; we know how lucky we are to be able to do this. We go over the schedule for the day; we have a performance at 1:00 and we have to make it back to Denver before the garage closes so we can pick up the Yukon. Today’s timeline is going to be just as close as yesterday’s. We arrive at the restaurant and the place is packed again. One of our sponsors greets us at the door and we’re soon sitting around the table, getting to know a bit more about each other. It’s so interesting to me how and when opera finds people. Some people are born loving it; some people come to love it later in life. Then there are others that don’t really love it but they have a great appreciation for the art form and what it brings to our society. Still others who don’t even know what it is. One of our servers is a good example. She sees our jackets and asks about them. We tell her who we are and why we’re here. She’s never heard of Opera Colorado; it’s great that we can be the ones to introduce her.
Soon, it’s time for us to head back to our cabins. We make sure to show our appreciation for breakfast and say our goodbyes. A few of the sponsors will be attending the performance later at the elementary school. That’s great to hear. As we go to get into the car, we get to meet another new face. Her name is Gertie and she’s a chocolate lab. She’s adorable. We take a few minutes to meet her owner. He also asks about our jackets, so it’s a chance for us to introduce Opera Colorado one more time. He wishes us good luck with our performance; we give Gertie one more pat and then head back to our lodging. (As I write this, it strikes me as funny that I can remember the dog’s name, but not her owner’s.) The drive back is even quieter than before. We set a time to leave and everyone goes about their business. Alex has his spa appointment, Steven is going to work on some emails, Cassidy wants to take a walk and Morgan just wants to try and get some sleep. Joshua and Jared have a jammed packed schedule. They are going to work out, then shower, then go to the hot springs, then shower, then take dip in the pool and then shower. Hmmm… seems like overkill to me, but whatever. I need to get some work done, so to the cabin I go.
I work for a while as Morgan slumbers upstairs. Cassidy comes back from her walk and I join her on the front porch. We’re enjoying the peaceful surrounding; the sounds of nature. You can hear the nearby stream bubbling, birds are calling, men are singing… Wait, what? Cassidy and I stop and listen intently. Did we just hear singing coming from the relaxation pool at the hot springs? It’s very faint, but yes, that is singing. That’s opera singing. It sounds familiar. The sound grows louder. That’s Jared… and Joshua and they’re singing The Pearl Fishers duet and not being quiet about it any longer. One of the attendants at the spa comes outside, looking perplexed. Steven calms her, telling her that it’s OK, they’re opera singers. Relieved that the serenade is coming from trained professionals, she goes back inside, but she’s got a huge smile on her face. Jared and Joshua are ramping up for the big finale of the duet. It rings through the hillside – they sound great. The image of the two of them sitting in the pool, singing their hearts out, keeps Cassidy and I laughing for a good 5 minutes.
After the concert is over, the two songsters make a mad dash to their cabin to get ready to go. Alex shows up looking mighty relaxed; must have been a good appointment. Morgan managed to grab a little more sleep and is feeling refreshed. The gang’s all here so we load up and head into Buena Vista and Avery Parsons Elementary School. We’re excited that the local paper is sending a reporter and photographer. Every little bit of exposure helps! We get checked in and scramble to set up before the kids come in. We make it with about 15 minutes to spare – we must have been flying. The kids come in and take their seats and the principal gets them settled. It’s a big group! I go out to welcome everyone and talk about the performance (you may have noticed I do that a lot). This is something that, over the years, I’ve found really helps. It prepares the kids for what they’re about to see and gives them an idea of how to appropriately respond to an opera. This is so new for most of the students we perform for, they literally don’t know you can applaud or even laugh if something is funny. I introduce Steven and get the performance started with a big “bravo.”
Right away, I know this is going to be a great show. The Young Artists are tired but the energy coming from these kids is amazing. They are laughing like crazy – I mean really cracking up. It is the best feeling and soon the cast is hamming it up. As Joshua enters in his soldier disguise, I hear a little boy whisper to his teacher, “I think he’s being tricky.” He’s got it. When Alex has Jared blow in his eye, I hear someone whisper, “This is ha-lair-e-us.” (Not that’s not a typo, its phonetic spelling for hilarious to help you readers know what it sounded like). There are bravos galore when the cast go out for their bows. Now it’s time for the Q&A. My favorite question today is one we get quite a lot for this show. “Was the kissing real?” Yes, it was (cue the “ewwws” from the kids). It’s all part of the job. The teachers, parents and sponsors that watched the performance are thrilled. Steven and I answer some questions for the local paper while the Young Artists talk with the other guests and Mr. Quacksworth takes some photos with the students. That duck really loves the spotlight. A teacher comes up to me to thank us for coming. He tells me that this has been a wonderful experience for his students and one they’d never have unless groups like us travel to them. We’re so glad that we have the opportunity to tour Colorado and share opera with communities all over the state. We say a final thank you to our sponsors for their incredible hospitality while we’ve been here. They really have rolled out the red carpet for us and we truly appreciate it. Thank you CCPAC and Buena Vista. We hope we meet again very soon!
It’s time to break down the set and load out. We’re headed back to Denver and that’s a bit of a drive. The weather is changing too. It’s getting cold and cloudy and the mountains (which are close because we’re near them, right Cassidy?) are already getting snow. Our quartet of masculinity once again flexes their packing muscles; the ladies have learned to stay out of the way, so we busy ourselves with other tasks. Steven moves on to pack another car, well actually re-pack what Morgan has already done. Let’s just say things went back to where Morgan had them. Soon, everything is loaded and we’re on the road. We decide to stop for dinner in Bailey Colorado, home of the famous Coney Island hot dog stand. Want to know the way to get 5 Young artists and one accompanist really excited? Mention hot dogs and you’re golden. I break out the snack bag to settle my carload down. Soon, we’re listening to Callas again and watching the clouds roll in.
Off to the side of the road, we see a large group of antelope. Joshua asks if they are indigenous. Jared asks if they are the "horned" species. Answer #1, Yes, I believe they are found all over the west where they apparently play with deer. Answer #2, Yes, they are horned antelope, a distant relative of the elusive horned squirrel that we encountered earlier on tour. How lucky we are to have seen both of them. (It’s just easier this way, trust me.) Steven must really want a hot dog because he’s driving like Mario Andretti again (for those of you blog newbies, this is not a new occurrence). Cassidy, Morgan and Jared discover the joys of strawberry filled Twizzler bites and we come up with classifications for Cassidy’s various laughs. The anticipation is growing as we near Bailey. With each turn, they wonder if we’re close. Three more miles, then two, then one. We’ve arrived. We pull into the parking lot and… Oh, no. Not again. This happened last year! They’re closed. I decide the best way to tell them is to do it quickly, like pulling off a Band-Aid. I brace myself as disappointment turns to grief. I knew Jared would take it the hardest; he’s practically in tears. But, Jared does cry easily. I mean, I brought him to tears at breakfast when I talked about southern cooking. He’s a mystery, our Jared.
With hot dogs off of the menu, we push on. Jared grudgingly eats Twizzlers, mumbling to himself now and then. All I catch is “No, no, no” and “hot dogs.” I think he’ll be OK, with time. Alex on the other hand, well, we all know how he reverts when he hasn’t eaten in a while. None of us wants to visit that special place again, so we stop in Conifer to grab some dinner. I take this time to teach everyone the finer points of popping a straw (One of the many valuable things I learned in college. My parents are so proud.) We’re back on the road again; next stop – the garage to pick up the Yukon.
As the drive continues, we muse on all of the conversations we’ve had over the past 7 days. We’ve discussed everything from scientific theories to geography, from Morgan’s famous meatloaf recipe to Jared’s love of ketchup. From Steven’s knowledge of hot sauces, to Joshua’s ability to rock a fur hat; Cassidy’s aversion to spiders to Alex’s specialized drink order at Sonic (that even he refers to as diabetes in a cup), we’ve talked about it all. The conversation in the car as we near Denver? Animals. Cassidy has a friend who has a dog. She shows us a picture. I share the picture I have of my dog. We talk about dogs. Pictures of animals are viewed on the internet. Cassidy finds what she believes is a picture of a horned squirrel. She shows it to Morgan who’s not so sure. Jared, the resident expert says no, that’s not a horned squirrel, that’s a groundhog. This is a picture… of a squirrel… in a tree… (*sigh*) There are no words.
We make it to the garage and, yeah, the Yukon is fixed! Again! As I’m handling the bill, the mechanic starts asking about what we do. Joshua and I tell him. He’s intrigued. I go a step further and invite him to come see Don Giovanni. I give him information on how to buy tickets. He says he’s always wanted to see an opera and he’ll give us a call. Great! Things look even brighter when the Yukon starts. We’re in business. We head back to the house to unload everything from the cars and load it back into the Yukon. Boy, this is getting monotonous. We finish that up, run over tomorrow’s schedule and then bid each other goodnight.
We’re all looking forward to tomorrow – it’s a big day. We’re performing at Centennial Elementary School in Loveland and Opera Colorado has never been there before. That’s big. We’re also going to be recorded. CBS4 is coming out to film us. That’s big too!
Tomorrow will be the last blog of our 2013 tour. Wow – the time has gone by so quickly. 7 days down and successful at that. One more to go. We hope you’ll join us.