We have the first performance of Cosi fan tutte tonight. This remains my favorite Mozart opera when it comes to the music — plot-wise not so much, but I can’t have everything, I suppose. But truly, the music is just exquisite, and even while I have a ton of tacets I usually just sit and enjoy the music. Many colleagues have magazines on their stands … it really can be extremely difficult to sit for 30 minutes when we can’t see the stage at all, so I have complete understanding for those who read. And yes, some of the instrumentalists really do sit for 30 minutes or longer without playing a note. (While the poor strings saw away. Mozart operas are pretty exhausting for the string section, I believe.) We oboes have a 25 minute resting period, in fact, along with three other 10 minute tacet spots. Still, you can pretty much guarantee I’ll be sitting there enjoying the music tonight. (If I do read, you can bet the audience won’t be able to tell; it’s a rule I have for myself.)

In defense of those who do read: I know some people think we should be so enraptured by what we are doing, and so involved in our work, that reading is incomprehensible to them. Ah well. I can’t really explain what it’s like to be incredibly focused on what we are doing when we are playing and then being able to transition to a book or magazine when we aren’t involved in a particular piece. If you’ve not been there it’s just too difficult to explain. At least for me. Think of it as our water cooler break, perhaps. Maybe someone else can jump in here and help out?

When we were at the Montgomery Theatre we could see the performance in the reflection of the plexiglass that was put up on the rail that separated the audience from the pit (I was told that the firemarshall deemed the rail (or is it a wall?) too short, so they had to add more height. Plexiglass was chosen because otherwise the audience in the front rows wouldn’t be able to see the stage. Go figure.) In the Montgomery I never read. Even with 25 minute breaks in my part. I watched. And listened. I miss being able to see and I miss hearing as clearly as we used to. Such is life. I still prefer the California Theatre. It’s just too wonderful of a facility … if you haven’t seen it, you should.

Maybe tonight?


  1. 25 minutes? Really? Golly. And here I always thought the 17 minute book scene in 1776 was really long…

    I’ve never been comfortable reading during a performance or even a rehearsal, no matter the number of rests – I’m always afraid I’ll miss an entrance. And yes, I do (very subtly) count rests on my fingers, and have since at least the early ’80s. I experimented with counting in binary* (believe it or not, I’m just not quite geeky enough) and using ASL numbers, but by the time I started learning sign language the habit was so ingrained I had to fall back to my usual method (which I can’t even describe right now, since I haven’t played in a while).

    Personally I really like the pit at the Montgomery, but then I haven’t played in that many venues (I like its pit better than Flint, though, for some reason – cushier, maybe?).

    *The advantage to counting in binary is that you can get to 31 with five fingers, and to 1023 with all ten (and please just leave the two’s complement comments at home, thanks – not really appropriate to this venue :). On the other hand, if you’ve got more than, say, 800 measures of rest, being unable to count in binary would seem to be the least of your problems. 🙂

  2. Oh, and I somehow went all stupid (I’m blaming the fresh air – we were camping at the time) and volunteered to coordinate the Blue and Gold dinner for my son’s Cub Scout pack (there were only about 200 people attending), which was last night, so my brain has now officially shut off until at least noon tomorrow. In fact, I think I’m losing my ability to typ…glapcorjjea, fjao anx chww bia/ i*8. Ggsnarrx.