Thursday, May 22, 2014

2014 Greater Colorado Tour – day 9

I awake with the birdies this morning. The sky is blue with puffy white clouds. I greet the day with a stretch and [Groan]… No one told me that facials and a mini-massage have aftershocks, or side effects, or expiration dates – or whatever this is. My skin looks great, but I have sore places on my body that I didn’t know my body had places. I have to get up and moving though because we don’t have another leisurely morning. We’ve got a drive ahead of us to get to Frisco for an early afternoon performance of Barber.
Taylor has already been up for a while. I offer to make him breakfast. He says thank you, but he simply won’t allow it. He’s the independent kind and has his own schedule.

Jared’s the next one up followed shortly thereafter by Brett.  I make coffee while they stagger around. Once everyone is a bit more bright-eyed, I decide to go ahead and make breakfast. I love cooking for people, so it’s really not a chore. It’s eggs and bacon again and some Irish oatmeal. After eating, I have to work on yesterday’s blog and get it finished – I was so wiped out last night, I fell asleep before it was done. The guys switch between relaxing, reading and getting packed up. Colleen, Ben and Louise arrive and take their turn in the kitchen for breakfast. The entire cabin now smells like bacon, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but I head outside for a bit to breathe in some fresh mountain air.

The river is even higher today and clouds are building over the mountains. It looks like we may get some rain later. Still, it’s a beautiful view. I don’t stay outside long as I have to get packed up myself. Louise volunteers to do the breakfast dishes and Taylor helps her while Brett and Jared get the car packed. Ben and Colleen head down to the lodge to get their things and check out. The rest of us follow and we say goodbye to our cabin, the lodge and the hot springs/spa  – it’s really been a wonderful haven for us the past few days. At the lodge, I go in to check us out of the cabin while everyone else finishes loading the cars. The young woman who helps me sees my email address and asks about Opera Colorado. Do I work for them? Am I a singer? Etc. Etc. I answer her questions and I can sense there’s more that she wants to say. I ask her if she’s a fan of opera and she gives me a huge smile. Turns out, she’s not only a fan, she’s about to start college in the fall, studying to be an opera singer. She’s been saving for it for almost 2 years. I spend the next few minutes talking to her and answering some of her questions about this career. I give her my card and tell her to contact me if there’s anything I can do to help as she takes her first steps. What a great way to start the day!

I rejoin the others and we head out – Jared is driving this morning and Ben is following us in the other beasty.
We make the correct turn after two tries (thanks lady on the GPS who has apparently been talking to Taylor’s Siri) and head up a really steep incline. There’s a sheer drop off on my side of the car. Thankfully, this doesn’t last too long and we come onto a high plain that overlooks the entire valley. There’s a ranch that raises miniature horses and I comment that they must grow well up here. The road that we’re on takes us into Buena Vista and from there we head towards Leadville before we join up with I-70. The drive is beautiful.
We get some rain on the way but nothing major.

We’ve made it to Frisco and we head straight to the school. It’s now that I notice “it” has happened. Tour lag.  This happens every year around this same time; about 7 to 8 days in. You reach a point of mental decline and physical fatigue. I can see it on everyone. There’s not a lot of talking and people are moving slower than usual. We’ve got a performance to do though, so I go in to the school to check in and find out where we unload. We get to the right spot and we have 3 young ladies waiting for us to show us the way. I greet them and they immediately offer to help us carry things into the theater. I’m caught off guard – this usually doesn’t happen and I tend to be picky with who touches our stuff. But the eager looks on their faces are really sincere so I ask if they would like to help carry in the costumes. They get so excited they actually jump.

Load in – here we go again. The space is fantastic today. We’ve got more than enough room. Our contact from the Breckenridge Music Festival is here again today. What a wonderful source of support she’s been over the past 3 days. Thank you Mary Jane Wurster! Set up goes smoothly, but there’s still practically no talking and this is a fairly chatty group. Tour lag. I meet the teacher and the final preparations for the show are finished. We’ve got some costume casualties; Brett is missing a button on his pants and Louise’s skirt has no hook. I pin it as best I can (Louise’s skirt not Brett’s pants) and we wait for all the students to arrive. Looking at all of the Young Artists standing around me, I’m suddenly aware of something. Today is our very last performance in a school. Sure, we have shows left to do, but they’ll all be in community theaters or one at Children’s Hospital next week. This is it – after today, there will be no more school shows with this amazing group of artists all together. I decide to tell them hoping it will help them shake the tour lag. I tell them to enjoy it – they’ve all worked so hard to get here.

We have to hold for about 10-minutes as we wait for the last couple of classes to arrive. As we wait, we’re treated to an impromptu performance by the high school choir. They didn’t know they were going to sing and they’re down about 7 members, but they give it their all. They have a new choir teacher who sang in the Opera Colorado chorus last season so we’re delighted that we get to hear them. We cheer them on with our applause and as they take their seats, we begin the show. I’m introduced by the teacher and I go out to talk to the audience. We’ve got middle school, high school and even some community members here today. It’s a really good size audience. I tell them a bit about what they’re going to see in this production and encourage them to laugh if something is funny or clap when a piece has ended. We begin the show with a big “Bravo!”

I sit backstage. As much as I’d like to watch their final school show, I have to write the blog for day 8 and catch up on some work. I wait for that moment at the beginning of the show, the one that will tell me if we’ve got a responsive audience or not. Wait for it… wait…. Yes! We do! In fact, as the show progresses, they are one of the most responsive audiences we’ve ever had. This is exactly what we needed today. The artists start to feed off of their energy. They’re playing off each other and really having fun. There are a couple of times when the audience laughs so hard; I can’t even hear Taylor playing the piano. As they take their bows, I sneak to the side and watch. These kids didn’t simply enjoy this show – they loved it. There are “bravos” and hoots and cheers. As a director, moments like this are important for me too. As silly as it sounds, it reminds me that I do indeed know what I’m doing. 

As bows end, I go out to begin the Q&A.
Not surprisingly, we get wonderful questions. There’s a young lady in the audience who is a senior and is going to be a music major. She tells us how much she enjoyed the show and what an inspiration we all are for her. Then she asks a question we’ve never gotten before. What was the very first classical piece we ever sang? It’s not hard for any of us to remember what it was and we each answer, most of us started with an Italian piece. When we get to Jared, he says his was actually a German piece. This gives Brett the perfect opportunity to do his accent again and the two of them have the audience in stiches when it’s all said and done. Other questions are about how long we’ve worked together or how long it took us to rehearse this show. It seems like ages ago now… but it was only January when this group met for the first time and we put this show on its feet.  We run out of time for questions so I encourage any of the students who can stay to come up and talk to us individually.

Quite a few do and the Young Artists and Taylor spend time answering questions. I’m not involved in this – why you ask? Because I have to transition from Director to Nurse. Jared has a boo-boo. He tripped on the wet steps yesterday at the spa and scraped up his leg. During today’s performance it got banged up even more. First felled by a hummingbird, now impaired by steps… it never ends. I fetch the first aid kit from the car and come back in time to see two very sweet, well one sweet and one a mix of sweet and odd, interactions. Colleen has been talking to the young lady who will be a music major in the fall. I watch as Colleen gives her some good advice and, more importantly, encouragement and even a hug. I think that young lady’s feeling pretty uplifted right about now and by the look on Colleen’s face, she is too. The other observation comes courtesy of Brett. He has a young lady as him if he could sing her to sleep tonight. Oh my. Brett’s response? He can’t because we’ll be in Glenwood Springs tonight.

I have to stop things so we can get to load out and I can tend to Jared’s leg. He’s a little worse for wear but he’ll be fine. One more injury though and he’s next in line for the bubble wrap. The Young Artists are chatting like crazy now – hopefully tour lag has passed. While they get out of costume I chat with some of our community guests, among them is a couple who saw our recent production of Carmen and loved it. They’ve been subscribers for quite some time and said they really enjoyed the fact that we took a risk and they felt the singing was “of the finest quality.” They are also very complimentary about Barber. She also taught music for years and she is really impressed with what we do with our school programs. I bid them goodbye thank Mary Jane one more time then help with load out. When we all work as a team it goes really quickly which is good because we’re starving. Ben knows a couple places in Frisco’s mainstreet area so we load in the cars to head there.

Readers – a bit of information for you should it ever come up. If you are ever presented with a hungry Taylor Baldwin, feed him. Quickly. Odd things happen when you don’t. Taylor has moved on from avalanche clapping to school bus clapping. As we leave the school, he waves, and claps at the students on the buses (and those walking home) and calls out “Bye. Have a beautiful time!” He then tells us he needs lotion because he has acquired a skin disease on his hands and needs to moisturize before his finger falls off, leaving him with nine. To this, Louise responds from the back of the car… “Oh, my nana had nine fingers!” To which Brett and Taylor think Louise has said her “nana” meaning “banana” has nine fingers which is just weird. This entire conversation could have been avoided if we had stuck to the Baldwin’s feeding schedule.

Happily, we have arrived at mainstreet. Ben guides me into a parking spot with all the flair of an aircraft marshal and I jump out before anything else… interesting happens. We start off by sitting outside, but the weather changes – there’s a storm a brewin’ according to Taylor, so we move inside. We’re all feeling better after the success of today’s performance and now that we’ve eaten, things are more like I’m used to with this group. Ben and Colleen take this opportunity to tell a few stories about me. They paint me in somewhat of an “airhead” light so I choose to invoke bloggers prerogative and not repeat them. As we’re leaving, I see a sign posted by the handicap accessible restroom which reads “Handicapped accessible entrance located downstairs.” Hmmm… somehow that doesn’t seem right.

Dodging raindrops, we load back into the cars and head to Glenwood Springs where we’re spending the night. In the co-pilot seat, Brett literally falls asleep on the job of wildlife and rock watcher. It’s OK, he tired and Jared is watching over things from the backseat. Colleen naps and Taylor, now fed, has gone quiet. Louise and Ben are in the other car, which I can’t see, so I assume they’re fine.  Jared plays a techno song and commands Brett to wake and do an improvised dance, which he does and, as he was seated, it was quite impressive. Jared laughs so hard he sounds like a Wagnerian soprano.

We make it to our lodging, Hotel Colorado.
It’s on the National Historic Register and I’m really excited to check it out. I love history and the period this was built is one of my favorite eras. To make it even better, I was able to get us a discount on the rooms once they found out that we were on tour, performing for local communities. We unload our bags and while Ben and I park the beasties, the others get everything into our rooms. The hotel is gorgeous. After getting settled, I go down the hall to the gent’s room to let them know I am going to walk around and check things out. Taylor, who has livened up considerably, informs me that the hotel is haunted.
I am no longer excited to stay here. His room is right on the other side of mine, so I tell him if I scream, he’d better come running.

I go down to the lobby to look around. It really is beautiful. I find a wonderful outdoor courtyard and decide to sit there and work for a bit. Everyone will meet up at 9:00PM to talk over the next day’s schedule. As I work, my laptop goes dead so I have to move inside. I am so glad I did. As I sit working, an elderly gentleman comes to the piano in the lobby and begins to play.
I know the tune and just instinctively begin to hum. He looks over at me and smiles and motions me to him. I put down my work and walk over and he asks me if I’d like to sing with him. I say no, not wanting to intrude but he begins to play a piece that my grandpa used to sing and I can’t resist. We spend the next few minutes together, connected by a piece of music that is connected to memories. While there wasn’t a single other person in the lobby and no one applauded, this was a moment I will never forget. I thank him for playing and he asks why I’m staying at the hotel. I tell him about tour and he is thrilled. He tells me that music can never be too important in someone’s life because it feeds the soul. He takes his leave by saying “Keep up the good work young woman.”

The group meets up and we go over tomorrow’s schedule. We also go over some other upcoming gigs to get a jump on planning. We say our goodnights and turn in. In my room, I begin to work on the day’s blog. I hear a very strange noise coming from the left of my bed… I can’t place the sound, but it’s definitely something in the room with me. I turn slowly and discover… the radiator.
Those things make quite a racket. Sleeping tonight is going to be… interesting.

Rest well readers,


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