Smelling the Roses at Garsington
From the first note of the first rehearsal of Martinu's Mirandolina I knew this was a work in which there would be no time to stop and smell the roses that cascade over the Jacobean walls and around the lighting rigs at Garsington. It consists, for us in the pit at least, of zillions of breathless fragments strung together like a busy necklace. There are no arias, very few places of rest, and there is perhaps only half a tune. Which comes once. In every bar there is the chance to play a forte note in a piannissimo rest, misread a clef or an accidental, misinterpret a dot or a slur....Not one to be played with a hangover, D and I agreed, or without a nap and a warm up. This was one to be played in the zone.
The zone for me is a place where I am totally present in the current bar yet always reading at least six bars ahead; I am comfortably in the phrase we are playing and yet on my way to the next; I am without anxiety yet with an edge of anticipation, I have an empty mind, I can feel each whole gesture in my body before I make it, and I am counting each quaver whilst being calmly guided by the changing pulse. And, as if that is not enough: As number two cello I must be decisive and confident without in any way undermining or preempting my number one.
Aaaah....I wish. Last night's dress rehearsal, despite an early and relatively (one pint of hookie) sober night, a nap and an hour of sixths and thirds and slow practice, was the opposite. A mini nightmare of notes having run away from me before I could get a finger on them, eyes skimming the bar before rather than the ones ahead (was that a sharp or a natural?), escalating questions and judgements (damd this feeble light on the yellowing pages - am I going blind? can't count, can't shift, can't concentrate, letting C down every step of the way), still being in waltz mode when we are already in saltorello, missing entries and thus giving my leader absolutely zero confidence in me which doubles the pressure on her, putting zingy pizzicati where there should be silence.....aaaargh.
That's what dress rehearsals are for, right?
And then it's over. We exit into the fragrant dusk of poppy lights and illuminated alium heads and people champagned and picnicked and entertained who didn't notice a thing, who loved it....
...And it is then that I stop and smell a rose.