Monday, March 25, 2013

2013 Greater Colorado Tour – day 8

Good morning readers. Well, it’s arrived; the last day of tour and thus, the final blog (at least for this trip). Today is a little different. I have some meetings to attend, so I’ll be joining the Young Artists in Loveland this afternoon. The CBS4 crew will be there to film everything from set up to the Q&A after the performance. Exciting! We’ll be sure to post the air date on our Facebook page and on Opera Colorado’s website.

After meetings, I hop in my car and make the drive to Loveland. Being in the car by myself seems strange… I find myself musing about goats, horned squirrels and blue ribbons (I have yet to let that one go completely). It’s cloudy today and we’re supposed to get rain later. Seems like we lucked out with the weather again; we could have been up in the mountains and they’re supposed to get a good amount of snow. It starts to drizzle just as I pull in to the parking lot at Centennial Elementary. I see the Yukon, so that’s a good sign that I’m in the right place (also a good sign because it means that the thing started). I find the Young Artists busy getting things set up and the crew from CBS4 is there, already filming.  

I’m greeted by a smiling Joshua with treats in hand; he’s made lemon bars. Yes, that’s right, our Joshua is a man of the world; philosopher, debate champion, linguist and class-A baker. (Don’t forget tenor.) Providing them with goodies seems to take the edge off of setting up in front of a camera and soon everything is done. I talk with the TV crew and come up with a game plan. Steven arrives, the Young Artists get into costumes as makeup and I am greeted by the principal. She’s delighted that we’re here – we’re delighted to be here. Things are good… until. You know that saying “Go big or go home?” Jared is a believer. Just a few minutes before the performance, he has a wardrobe malfunction, splitting his pants from front seam to back. Although the bright green boxers would get a laugh, it’s not exactly in keeping with the feel of the show. I teach Morgan the finer points of using a needle threader and she quickly sets about making the necessary repairs. Blue thread on black pants isn’t the look we would have opted for – but it’s what we have so it’ll have to do. Alex’s jacket has also experienced a malfunction. It looks like I’ll be taking some costume home with me. Thank goodness my mom can sew!

Temporary repairs are completed and the students are take their seats. We’re performing in the gym and it’s packed. The principal talks to the students first and has them wave to the camera. They are so excited! Then I go out. I’m wearing a microphone so the CBS4 crew can pick me up on tape. I try not to focus on the camera as I talk with the students about what they’re going to see. With a big shout of “bravo” our performance of The Barber of Seville begins. This is the first time we’ve ever been at this school. You never quite know what to expect from a new audience; opera is so different from what they’re used to hearing. But this is such a great show for opera newbies. We reach the first bit that should get a laugh and… it does. The show progresses with more and more laughter. It’s one of the most responsive audiences we’ve ever had. You can even hear the teachers laughing and the guys from CBS4 (I really hope the tape picks that up). At one point in the show, Jared say’s “He’s crazy,” commenting on the antics of Joshua. We all hear a lone little voice say “No he’s not!” with complete conviction (and volume). It’s one of those moments I won’t soon forget. Every aria gets “bravos,” and the laughs abound throughout the show. The kisses get the standard “ewww” response and we move on to bows. Everyone gets big applause and cheering, but Joshua… the entire gym practically comes apart. They LOVE him. Aw… Joshua has tiny groupies.

We move on to the Q&A and tons of hands go up. They want to know how we made the set look so real, how we sing like that and how long we had to practice. And, yes, were the kisses real.  My favorite today actually isn’t a question, it’s a comment I overhear. Two little girls are talking and one says to the other, “That was the best thing I have ever seen… in my whole life!” (She’s all of 5, maybe 6) Well kiddo, we hope that opera is a part of your life for a really long time. That’s why this never gets old. We’re opening people’s eyes to the magic of opera. Yes, we get tired and yes, being on the road repeatedly setting up and tearing down; it can seem endless. But we know that, at every single show we perform, there is someone watching who’s about to experience something that will inspire them to make opera a part of their lives. They may be our future patrons, set builders, arts administrators or even Young Artists themselves. It’s a huge job, but it’s so worth the effort. I shall now step down from my soapbox.
After the Q&A, we snap some pictures with the students. Mr. Quacksworth got some of the biggest laughs of the show so they are excited to meet him. I think tour has been good for us; the duck and I have grown closer and I think we understand each other now… With the students back in their classrooms, we tackle the set. The CBS4 gents say goodbye and let us know that they’ll be in touch about the air date. As we begin to load the Yukon, it starts to rain. We need the moisture, and it’s not a downpour, so it’s looked at as “refreshing.” When Joshua is putting the set poles into the rooftop storage box, a piece of it pops out. It looks like it’s a support bracket or something. Oh well, that can’t be too important so Joshua sets it on the roof. Cassidy suggests that he put it inside the car before we leave; Joshua agrees.

By now, we’re starving. None of us have eaten lunch so we turn to our food aficionado for suggestions. Pretty much everywhere we go Alex has the uncanny ability to hone in on a good place to eat. I think it’s in his DNA.  Alex says we’re going to Freddy’s. Freddy, who’s that, Joshua asks. Not who, but what. Apparently, it’s Freddy Steakburgers and Frozen Custard. We all head for our cars. Jared is practically skipping; he’s finally going to get his hotdog. Alex is in the lead, using his radar-like senses to guide the rest of us. (Not really, he passed it on the way to the school this morning) Cassidy is following the Yukon and I’m following Cassidy. We get about 5 blocks before I heard a huge pop and then a clattering sound. Now, I know you’re thinking that this can’t possibly happen again on tour. Our luck can’t be that bad. Well it’s the Yukon alright, but not directly. Let me explain. I see Cassidy pull her car over to the side of the road and the Yukon doesn’t stop. I thought it was a blown tire, so I’m confused. I stop (so does Steven) and get out to see what’s wrong. Cassidy, armed with a coat hanger, is trying to get something out from under her car. A local stops to help and literally has to get under her car before he can grab… whatever it is. Cassidy is fuming. Morgan just shakes her head makes disapproving noises. Cassidy shows me what was under her car. Oh, boy. It’s the piece from the rooftop box. Joshua left it on top of the Yukon. Thankfully her car is OK, but I’m not so sure about how Joshua will fair when she sees him.

We get back in our cars and I lead, following the GPS on my phone. I go where it leads until I notice that its listing the destination as 17 miles away. Smartphone my foot! The convoy follows me as I take a detour through a grocery store parking lot (Steven asked if this was where the Freddy’s was). I will now trust my sense of direction and my memory. Here goes nothin’… Looking like a beacon shining through the night, I see the Freddy’s sign in the distance and Alex standing next to it, waving us in. He gets a tad impatient when hungry. We pull in the parking lot and Cassidy calls to Joshua. She asks him if he forgot anything. He pats his pockets and thinks, no, nothing seems to be missing. Cassidy and Morgan then relay the events as they happened, sounding like they’re playing a live game of Clue. We reach the reveal; it was Joshua, in the Yukon, with the plastic thing-a-ma-jig! Joshua holds the object of offense, looking properly contrite. Alex is calling us to “come on” and Jared is already inside, the lure of hot dogs too much to bear. So, the rest of us head into the restaurant.

Alex’s food is ready first; we narrowly averted the grunting phase, and then Jared’s. His hamburger bun makes a valiant attempt at escape and has to be replaced, but he’s happy – he’s got a hot dog too. The rest of us get our orders and we sit, chatting about the wonder that is Freddy’s fry sauce and the past 8 days on tour. I’m once again thankful for the guys, I’ve ordered way too much food and I can always count on them to clean my plate. Jared manages to make it through the meal without crying (from happiness) and we go over what the next few days hold. Even though tour is over, we’re not done, not by a longshot. The Young Artists are here until May 24th and we’ll be plenty busy, sharing opera with as many people as we can.

Since it is our last day of tour, we decide to go for broke and have frozen custard too. The meal ends with a commentary on how sick we’re going to be later. We head outside and I take one more picture; something to commemorate the end of our travels. We all load back in our vehicles and head back to Denver. And readers, that’s it. Our 2013 Greater Colorado Tour is complete. I want to thank you for joining us, for commenting, following Mr. Quacksworth on Twitter and sharing these blogs with people. I gave you a job and you did it. But, like I said, our mission of taking opera to people isn’t done… neither is your job. We want you to join us; to be a part of our team. Be a voice for Opera Colorado. How do you do that? Buy tickets to Don Giovanni, make a donation, join our campaign. Your support will help us keep going on tour, performing for Colorado’s community and educating them about opera in the process. Your support means that we can continue to work with talented Young Artists, like this year’s group, and provide them with invaluable training and experience. Your support will ensure that we can keep fabulous productions on stage at the Ellie.

I hope you’ve had fun reading these blogs.  I hope that you’ll continue to be a part of Opera Colorado.

Until next year; goodnight readers.


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