Have you missed me, blogosphere? Have you been basking in the glow of my totally understandable neglect?
Here’s what I’ve been up to since May 3rd (incidentally a date I always remember as being the birthday of a friend from elementary/middle school–I highly doubt that she reads this, but happy belated birthday, Margaret!).
1. Dreaming some incredibly vivid dreams. In French. Two nights ago I had a nightmare that I can’t really remember anymore, except that somebody seemed to be chasing me all over Paris, and the part that was scary didn’t seem to be navigating Paris. And then last night, I dreamed that I was some kind of interpreter or something like that, and there was an orphan from Kosovo who was…important for some reason (not that orphans aren’t important, but I don’t remember why the dream was focusing on this particular one). I don’t remember anything except asking him how to “epeler” (spell) his name. I don’t even remember what the name was. Anyway. Dreaming in French = very interesting sensation.
2. Giving a recital! Saturday night, most of the stress of the last few months came to an end. Usually the way it works for me is that I stress out immensely before a recital and then relax into the performance, and I end up having a great time. Not so here. I was just one big ball of stress the whole time. I didn’t realize how much of a shadow this thing had been casting over everything else in my world until I opened up my Marriage of Figaro score on Sunday morning and suddenly felt thrilled to be working on it. As Seth Rudetsky would say, “Still got it!”
Anyway. In the end the recital went quite well, from an audience perspective (and I listened to the recording, and it doesn’t sound half bad). But I was such a big ball of angst and apathy over it that I was completely incapable of enjoying myself. The best part was when it was over and they kept applauding (rhythmically, as the French tend to do), and the third time we came back out to bow, I got to say, “C’etait un grand plaisir de chanter et jouer pour vous ce soir. Merci beaucoup pour venir nous écouter ce soir, dans cette schlechtes Wetter! Bonne soirée!” Three cheers for mixing languages! (That was the other best part–it was pouring rain. Which does sound like the best part, and indeed, until the thing got underway it wasn’t, because I had to transport my dress/recording device/shoes across the Cité Universitaire to the Maison Heinrich Heine and il pleuvait des cordes!. But it made “Il pleure dans mon coeur” and “Schlechtes Wetter” very, very easy to act.)
3. Starting Italian classes! Actually, this happened in the morning the day of the recital. It was pretty awesome. I know, actually, a TON of Italian. As I explained to Maryam and Kadidja (the girls I was sitting next to in class), I would already be able to speak Italian except that I don’t know anything about the grammar. I could understand every word the teacher, Floriana from Padua, said, but when called upon to actually say something, I was like…ahhhhhhh! Mainly, the whole experience made me realize just how good my French is (in case the dreaming in French wasn’t a good enough indicator)–it was a relief to take a break in the middle and go back to speaking “some KNOWN language.” But wait, look: Buongiorno! Mi chiamo Anne. Come ti chiami tu? Tada! And I can also say (most of) the alphabet and count to twenty. Boo-yah!
4. Reading a World War I memoir. My friend Chloe has impeccable taste in books–I don’t think I’ve ever read something on her recommendation that I haven’t at least found fascinating–and she told me that if I was interested in WWI, I should read Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth. So I did. And I was devastated. It made me realize that if Downton Abbey had really wanted to be at all realistic about how the Great War went down, nobody should have come home from the front. The book starts in pre-war Britain, which is astonishingly different from post-war Britain (which I guess I already knew from Upstairs, Downstairs), and then there are about four hundred completely gut-wrenching pages in which most of the people Vera cares about are killed at the front, while she works in Malta and France as a V.A.D. nurse, and then she goes back to Oxford, reclaims her life and becomes a journalist with Winifred Holtby. I’ve been thinking that since I’m in France, I ought to go visit the Somme, or Ypres or Amiens or Arras. Maybe I’ll plan that trip for the second half of June, when my diploma exam and operetta performances are over.
This, by the way, is Vera Brittain.
(It occurs to me that all of this WWI reading–and miniseries-watching–may be the reason for my Kosovo dream. I don’t know a lot about the Kosovo/Bosnia-Herzegovina conflicts, but I do remember being aware for the first time of war as a current event, not just as something that happened a long time ago. I must have been in elementary school, because everybody was reading Zlata’s Diary, which was the real-life journal of a girl in Sarajevo.)
And that’s about it for the moment. This morning I have a rehearsal with Heather and Jake, with whom I’m performing a silly little baroque aria in a few weeks–it’s from a French cantata about coffee! Not to be confused with the Bach cantata about coffee!