Tuesday, May 20, 2014

2014 Greater Colorado Tour – Day 7

On the road again… I just can’t wait to get on the road again… Ah, Mr. Nelson, those are good lyrics. They ring true for us. After about a day and a half off, we are truly on the road again. Yesterday I traded in the rental Yukon for another Suburban. We’ve got room now, but unbelievably, it’s barely enough. We still had to put one of the prop boxes in the non-set vehicle. Everyone is loaded in; luggage too and we’re off. We’re headed to Leadville today for a performance of Barber at the high school. It will be the highest elevation we’ll be at all season. I, for one, can’t wait to see how this goes.

We’ve got much better weather today – sunny and clear. Last week readers, if you remember, we were driving in snow. Today, we’re able to see the amazing scene open up before us as we crest a hill on I-70. Ah… America… We’ll be staying in Nathrop near natural hot springs for the next two nights and everyone is looking forward to using the amenities, spa and all. It’s on their dime, but they’ve worked really hard and deserve to pamper themselves a bit. Because it’s supposed to be crowded, Jared gets on his phone as we drive to make appointments for those who want them. What results over the next 30-minutes is a comedy sketch waiting to be written as he talks to people who aren’t quite fluent in English (and who I’m almost certain thinks it’s a prank call because of his last name – Guest. “Hello, I’d like to make an appointment for Mr. Guest.”) He finally gets someone on the phone that can help and then each time the information is almost complete, the call drops. Brett pitches in to help and has similar issues. The two of them are now growling in the back seat. Colleen must have really good headphones on because she’s unconcerned with all of the mayhem.

Near Breckenridge we see a serious overhang of snow. It’s an avalanche waiting to happen. I make the mistake of pointing this out to the car and who should happen to be in the car? Mr. happy clapper Baldwin, of course. Taylor seizes the opportunity. Hanging out of the car window, yelling and clapping like crazy – he does his best, but alas, nothing happens. Poor guy, he really gave it his all. As we get higher in elevation, the wind really starts to blow and when you’re driving something the size of a tank, that’s no fun at all. Plus adding to the drag, the top left corner of the roof rack on the new beasty isn’t fully attached to the roof. It creates a lovely squeaking noise and gives the car added lift. By the time we get to Leadville, my hand and arm are numb.

We make a quick stop for lunch before heading to the school for set up. On the way to the school we get a look at the historic downtown area. This was a happening place in the 1900s and the buildings that are still here are beautiful and a reminder of a bygone era. Taking the road we’ve been directed to, we arrive at what I think is the school. Nope, it’s the hospital. Now we arrive at the school. Then we drive around the school. It seems someone forgot to tell us that the entire school is under major construction – we can’t find a way in. I give up and park in a lot and Jared, Brett and I walk to one door after another – all locked up tight with signs that say to enter through the main doors. That’s what we’re trying to do! Jared hikes further up the hill while Brett calls the school. At the same time they both find the way in so I hike down the hill to get the others. By the time I get there, I feel like I’ve run a marathon. Instead of using what breath I have left to talk them through what we’re supposed to do, I become a flight attendant and use hand gestures.

The rest of us pack back into the cars and park just next to the construction zone. I’m feeling especially encouraged that the cars will be safe – there’s only a small amount of rubble and the stairs are almost half intact. We duck and cover and get to the business of loading in. We meet our contacts from the school and the Breckenridge Music Festival, who are both delightful and we figure out how things are going to work. We’ve got a full size stage today – yeah! Taylor has a great piano, however the fact that we’re breathing hard from loading in does not bode well. See… there’s this matter of having to breathe properly to sing opera.

We complete set up and as everyone begins warming up and getting into costume, the audience starts to arrive. We’ve got 6th – 12th graders today. Their teacher goes through her announcements and then I take over. I ask the students how many of them have seen an opera before and out of the entire group, four students raise their hands. Wow – that’s a lot of kids who will have their very first opera experience today. How fabulous! I finish my talk and the show begins. I know right off the bat that it’s going to be a battle to get through this one. Not because the Young Artists aren’t focused; not because they aren’t giving it their all, but because they really can’t breathe. They get through it piece by piece with complete support from Taylor. I haven’t been able to sit and watch a show for quite a while, so I decide to do that today. I sit at the back so I can take it all in and watch how the students respond. They’re really quiet. They are laughing at bits but there’s not a whole lot of noise coming from them at all. It’s not that they’re messing around either. They are entirely focused on the show and taking it all in. For first timers, they’re doing great! The act one finale comes up, which is one of the toughest parts of the show. It’s incredibly physical and a difficult sing too. The artists handle it really well and they begin to play off of each other – I know when I see this that we’re good. The show is solid and the students seem to have enjoyed it. I go up to begin the Q&A and give a shout out to Taylor who really did an admirable job today. Once the Young Artists have grabbed water they join us and we answer questions. They come slowly; the students seem a bit overwhelmed by it all, but once we get a couple, it gets easier. One of the students in honor choir has a birthday today, so we call her up to the stage and sing to her – really – we weren’t trying to embarrass her or anything. Honest.

Following the ode to Happy Birthday in F minor, we thank everyone and its back to the never ending task of getting everything back out into the beasties. Other than some broken nails, we do OK and we’re evacuating the danger zone before the construction workers leave for the day. We decide to drive up to the Matchless Mine before we leave.
As people in the opera business, we can’t miss a chance to see a sight that’s connected to a famous local story – that just has to do with opera. This was the homestead where Horace Tabor and Baby Doe lived. Baby Doe actually died here. We know the story; some of us have sung it. Colleen sang the role of Baby Doe last year and Jared is learning the score now (no readers, he is not singing the role of Baby Doe). Knowing the story and actually seeing it are two very different things. Colleen does a great job of recounting the actual events for us.
Unfortunately, the site isn’t open for tours yet, but at least we got to visit it. What an incredibly hard life that has to have been.

Before we leave, we make a plan to run by the grocery store to get supplies for breakfast for the next couple of days before we head to our lodging. Our lodging in Nathrop is a good central location, but it’s not really close to anything. Unless we want to spend our time driving about 30-40 minutes every time we want to eat, we need to plan ahead. Jared is driving and I’m co-piloting again, my arm and hand no longer numb but not in tip-top shape either. I learned several things on our trip to the grocery store. Thing #1: Jared does not quite understand the principal of turning off the vehicle engine before exiting the vehicle. Thing #2: Opera singers are the loudest people in any space they inhabit. You wouldn’t think getting eggs and bacon would require a lot of volume, but it does.

Supplies purchased – we load into the vehicles and head down the road towards Nathrop. Louise naps in the back seat while Taylor, Brett, Jared and I listen to an on demand performance of Anna Russell. She really was fabulous. The scenery here is very different. There are snow covered peaks yes, but there are also really cool rock formations.
We begin to see deer again. There are people rafting on the river (which Brett and Taylor really want to do – which is fine as long as the proper amount of bubble wrap is in place upon their persons). We take the turn to Nathrop and make it to our lodging. Jared gets another lesson in turning off the engine before exiting the beasty (seriously). We all go into the main lodge to check-in and make a reservation for dinner. Then we split up to head to our respective lodging. Colleen, Louise and Ben are in the lodge and Taylor, Brett, Jared and I are in a cabin up the hill.

The cabin is lovely and looks out over the river. We get things in from the car and have just enough time to get settled before we have to head back to meet the others for dinner.The menu looks good and we place our order. We’ve got about 1 hour and a half before Jared has his spa appointment so we should be good on time – or not. The service is slow, really slow, and by the time our orders arrive, Jared has 15-minutes to eat. He gets things boxed and leaves the rest of us to dine together. Louise tells stories of some of her childhood friends and a very amusing story about Andrea Bocelli. I’m not sure which is funnier. The stories themselves or watching Louise try to tell them while she’s laughing.

After dinner, everyone is on their own to do whatever they choose. Most of us head to the hot springs. I decide to sit by the pool and read for a while and then work on the blog. Jared emerges from his spa appointment and looks dazed. His hair is a delightful mix of punk Mohawk and mullet but he’s looking very relaxed. When everyone is sufficiently pruney from the water, most of them head inside to the steam rooms. I stay outside and continue working on the blog – this lasts for about 10-minutes before I’m invaded by hoards of teenagers. Now, as a teacher, I can handle teenagers. But my patience apparently runs thin in a specific circumstance - I can’t handle teenagers, in swimsuits, with raging hormones, who are unsupervised. Wow. I move inside and meet up with Jared and Brett. We head back to the cabin and get comfy. Taylor joins us and he teaches me the proper way to dismantle a pineapple.

Jared, Brett and I go outside for a bit of stargazing. Sitting in rocking chairs, looking at the starts in the mountains. How fabulous is this? When we’re all blue and my teeth are chattering, we decide to call it a night. Day 1 of week 2 has been busy and there’s more to come. Time to get a good night’s sleep and recharge for another day of opera on tour.

Night-night readers,


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