Tuesday, 03 July 2012

Chapter 8. The Dorman street years

Sharing the creative energy of Dorman street was an interesting experience. There were some energy "hoggers" whose presence seemed to drain the creative juices out of me. I found that when they attended the class, I could not concentrate and I generally did not like the work I produced. No doubt I had the same effect on others too! Mary continued to remind me that I painted better when I was angry.
 I gave that a lot of thought and decided that it was not about anger per se, but more that anger served as an energy release for me- it would "fire me up" as it were.

 The Kiss- reconcilation, 1997
pastel on paper 700 x 500mm              David: Charcoal/paper 500x400mm             Nude, oil/paper  700                                                                                                                                 x400mm

Ronel on yellow cloth: oil

The musicians: oil/board 700x500

Back at home it was 5pm:
Jack: What would you like for supper ( which was a hint to me to make supper). Oh (disappointed) I see you are on your way to rehearsal.
 See you later then (I wouldn't- he would have been in bed for hours already)
Me: Oh yes- (trying to look disappointed) We are having an extra Zitsprobe tonight- last night some of the soloists couldn't make it, so Maestro called an emergency tonight. Sorry, have to rush. Get a pizza or something for the boys? Ciao!
He would stand forlornly at the garage entrance and watch while I backed out of the driveway, waving at me as I drove round the corner. I would sigh inwardly with relief at not having to deal with the boys tantrums and homework and bath time battles (they hated bathing) and feel my heart soar as I looked forward to being with my mad opera buddies .At zitsprobe our Chorus master would be sitting down in the circle near the conductor while the chorus was in tiers (and sometimes in tears) on the raised platform.

 I loved the Zits rehearsals. Hearing the orchestra for the first time was always thrilling. And singing with a professional orchestra has just got to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life.There are no words to describe that feeling as the music swells through you, pulsating and engulfing you in a body of melody.

 There were moments in Turandot when the atmosphere was electric. Once during one of the bigger chorus and solo numbers, everything went dead quiet when we finished  singing. There was a breathless hush and this surge of something pulsated through everyone on stage. We all felt it-so difficult to describe with using cliches! A moment of profound connection. an angelic moment. We were all stunned for a second. Like a herd of buck all sensing at once that danger is present, lifting their heads simultaneously.
Then the entire company just burst into spontaneous applause. We all had shivers down our spines.

It was for moments like these that I lived for and longed for - an adrenalin rush, call it what you will. It was so intense, so powerful, like a drug. I wanted more and more. More and more, my ordinary life held no surprises, no joy. At home I was bored, tired, restless, I couldn't wait to get to the theatre and experience that incredible buzz again. I dreaded the nights at home without rehearsal and the long periods out of season or if I wasn't chosen. I was not chosen for La Boheme or La Traviata in the summer season. My two close friends, also 2nd sopranos, were. I was devastated. "Big voices" like mine were not required. I did not like the tag. My teacher said I had a "Big voice"- this was not always a compliment- what she was saying was that it was not a "pretty" voice! I was OK in "Big" chorus operas like Aida, Turandot, Nabucco, but in operas where the quality of each individual voice would be more noticeable, like in the Mozart operas or smaller Puccini operas like Madame Butterfly I was usually left out. This was a serious blow to my already fragile ego.

Being "left out" of things pressed some old buttons. I felt like a child waiting in the circle when teams were chosen. I happened to be one of those children who usually was chosen- I was quite "cute' and quite athletic and sporty so I was usually chosen for teams. Now I was being left out. It was a feeling which I was unfamiliar with.
At this time I realised that I had some serious 'mother' issues. In therapy a whole lot of stuff was coming up around some unexpressed and unresolved issues with my mother's own poor mothering. I was determined not to be emotionally missing to my children as my mother had been to me. I may have overcompensated with my boys, always being present at their games and concerts, always asking them about their "days" until they told me to stop being like the Spanish inquisition- another serious blow to the ego. I was just trying to be a good mother and be interested in my children. I couldn't do anything right - not mothering, not singing, not painting. I was a failure at everything I tried. Looking back, those were quite dark days, filled with frustration, tiredness, confusion and a growing feeling of internal "emptiness". Punctuated by the "highs" of being on stage on opening night, bowing to full audiences and thunderous applause. It was a time of extremes- extreme highs, extreme lows. If I could have seen in to the future then and how I looked forward to singing with Artscape  for the last time, I would not have believed it.

 However the writing was on the wall for the largely "white" chorus, whose days were numbered.
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