“Young soprano Elizabeth Gentner…has a supple, full-bodied voice perhaps better suited for a larger venue, but displayed a confidence and command of comedy unusual in a performer at such an early stage in her career.” ~Kathleen Whalen, Daily Republic Correspondent
After giving my mime skills some exercise, I got on the bus to Rival del Garda. The sun had just set and there was just enough light to see miles and miles of vineyards surrounded by mountains.
Every time we turned a corner, and by corner I mean wound around another mountain, there would be more fields of vineyards and yet another mountain. Small apartment buildings and homes were scattered on either side with tiers of vines sticking out of rock in some places and olive trees marking property lines. Absolutely stunning.
I wish I had been able to get pictures but it was just too dark, and the bus was moving too fast. So I’ll have to keep those pictures in my memory.
My directions clearly state that I should get off the train here. There are 4 people here and none of them work here.
No WiFi, no ATM, no nothing.
Oh, and yes, of course…no escalator or elevator. Soooo we carry my 100 lbs of luggage down three flights of stairs and up three flights of stairs. Nope…nothing in the main station either. Closed teller boxes and automated machines to buy train tickets…
I walk out to a small city center and there no direct sign for the bus. I finally ask a young woman “Dove sono the bus a la Rival del Garda?” (I guess we all know what I need to look up as soon as I get to internet tonight…..)
She points me to a sign all but behind the station off to the right, and helps me find the one I need.
I proceed to thank her in 4 languages — I think I even threw in Spanish by mistake.
Welcome to Italia!!!!!
Well that certainly was an experience.
A couple of lessons learned in the preparation and day of rituals aside (see the eBook for details), I had a pretty good morning and got to my destination quite efficiently.
I managed the entire experience with absolutely no English.
The government forms that they had me fill out were my first clue. It turns out that the ZAV (Government funded agencies) serve as more of an unemployment purpose than operating as agents to hire the best people. Have you ever had any luck finding a job through the state funded unemployment office?
The woman I sang for was very kind and the pianist impressed. But I was told that I shouldn’t bother with operetta, not because I’m not good at it, but they have too many German singers looking for work in the field and in operetta they can place German singers, so they will.
Evidently the German government has given these agencies an edict that unless they are dealing with spectacular circumstances (not even spectacular voices) they are to give a clear advantage to German singers. I was told very kindly that they were having extremely tough times and that should she wish to work with me, she would have to prove to the state why I was an exception, but not by my singing abilities, an exception based on any ties I may have directly to Germany.
She told me that she loved my Jewel song and that I was fun to watch, but that I should contact the private agencies instead to see if they could help me.
Ok. I’ve crossed oceans and airports. I am here right where I said that I want to be. So what exactly am I supposed to do now? There are so many people to contact. So many things to see and do….it’s difficult to focus when there are infinate possibilities.
Every time I make a plan I limit my options to a degree so how do you balance having some security, comfort and rest with freeing yourself up to take advantage of every opportunity? There is a line and I’m going to keep jumping back and forth across it to test both myself and life to see if we can find something new about eachother.
Berlin has been a good place to start, a great place to acclimate to German and European lifestyles. However, I’m not convinced that this is where I need to be.
So the next location on the agenda is Leipzig, and maybe I will find more of what I am looking for there, maybe not. But I’ve got a train ticket with my name on it for the next several months. Let’s see where I feel right. I’ve got the time to try.
First let me say that there is no way I would have been packed and ready to go on time without Laura Gentner (my sister) Thank you so much!
I have been actively working on condensing my life for about a year so my decisions on what to pack and what not to were not as complicated as they might have been a year ago. That being said, I have probably still packed to much but we will see soon enough.
6 dresses, 4 pair of jeans 10 each of casual and dressy tops, a pair of slacks “the audition dress” (and a backup), 3 pairs of comfy flats, 2 pairs of dress shoes, hiking boots and toiletries, makeup, converters, laptop, tablet & phone, audition folder, Traviata score, and paperwork for Eurail pass. End result? One rolling backpack, a carry-on roller bag and one carry on “mega-purse.”
And I think I over packed…..
…but I was so hungry it felt like it.
I’m a little sorry for the poor waitress who was the first person I tried to speak to in German after the long trip to Berlin. While my German is far from perfect under normal circumstances, I was particularly incoherent on my first excursion into the city.
Motivated mostly by hunger, after showering and taking a long nap at the hotel, I asked for directions to a good place to eat and set out! I wandered into a small grocery store and realized that I would need cash… I wandered until I found an ATM, grabbed a few things without incident from the grocery store and then decided on the restaurant Hell oder Dunkel Bier based on what I saw people eating outside.
I had been speaking German so much the previous day at the airport, watching movies in German and even reading German newspapers. So I was pretty shocked myself when instead of asking for a table for one in either English or German what came out of my mouth was an incoherent melding of German and English words that even I didn’t understand.
The waitress looked completely baffeled so I tried again to say the phrase in English… Well that didn’t even work! I promise that any american waitress would have been confused, but as far as this girl was concerned, I was speaking Swahili.
I finally muttered something about jetlag and she was so excited that she understood something that she jumped up and said “Ohhhh its ok! You can speak English here… Table for one?!?”
Well, I made friends with the waitstaff but I am absolutely certain that that they think I am a little crazy….
After an arduous journey from Dayton to Columbus to Chicago to LaGuardia to JFK, I endured a 5 hour layover and now I am finally on the plane that will take me accross the ocean to Europe!
It may be trite, but at this moment it seems real!
I am leaving all of my details distractions and disolutions behind. To tackle my life long objectives.
Strangely enough, I am watching “Der Hobbit – Eine eunerwartete Reise” in German….mostly….while waiting to taxi out.
While I am certain that my “Reise” will have far fewer near death experiences, I hope to have half so good a story to tell.
So here goes nothing… in 5…4…3…2…1…
In case you don’t already know, the Kickstarter campaign was a success!!!
Thank you so much to everyone who contributed in order to make The Opera Performers’s Guide to Auditioning in Europe a reality. I appreciate your help so much and I look forward to sharing this experience with you!