The soprano had some inventive moments after the crispy duck

Sallie Satterthwaite's picture

Not that I expect anyone to believe this, but our daughter Mary, the German pianist, will be 50 years old in November. How can this be, when I’m only 55 and Dave 60?

Last Mother’s Day she congratulated me on 49 1/2years of motherhood. I don’t know whether she remembers, but about the time she finished college, she said she felt like I had wasted my life, doing nothing but raising children.

Well, I’ve had a pile of small careers, including church music and emergency medicine, and now in my dotage, a column that occasionally is well received. I can’t imagine doing anything I’d enjoy more, nor in which I could make a small contribution to my community without breaking a sweat.

But most of all, I am fiercely proud of those two girls I raised. They alone would justify my life, as far as I’m concerned. They both enrich the world where they find themselves, and honor their parents in the doing.

Anyhow, here are a few notes from Mary earlier this year when she was settling into her new job in Mannheim in south-central Germany, requiring many trips between there and her home base of Gelsenkirchen. She’d had a streak of bad luck, losing her glasses on the train.:

April ‘07: Beautiful weather. Bought a year's pass for the big park in Mannheim, since it costs four Euros a visit, and Sunday walked along the Neckar [River] (finally) ‘til I reached the requisite Fernseh [fern=far, seh=seeing: television] tower-with-restaurant, past a boat house (with restaurant) full of those long, Olympic-style row boats, and into the park. Still some daffodils, and tulips in full bloom.

May: It’s cloudy for the first time in weeks. Has been unusually sunny and dry and I’ve had to put cream on my face. I think the farmers will be happy soon.

Wearing my new glasses...called lost and found a few times, but [the old ones]never turned up. It was also Carneval [Mardi Gras, with lots of wild celebrating.]

Now I left a little suitcase, the part of a set that you slide on top the trolley, also probably on the train. Was going to Gelsenkirchen, right after rehearsal, and had some dirty wash with me...mostly socks and underwear. They also have not been turned in... maybe I should check on E-Bay.

Also, unfortunately, my black American jeans plus belt. All those years traveling to Dortmund, no problem.

June: [She had told us about an upcoming concert for which the evening turned sharply cold.]

Played the Respighi outdoors on an electric piano (clavinova). Don't know if I was heard at all, since the speakers were not strong. A little Italian girl played the Rachmaninoff Paganini variations on a real grand. They had huts for us to change in, and she warmed up on a table with a metronome going.

The new Armenian soprano star from Gelsenkirchen sang some Boheme and Butterfly. Now I'm in a packed early train, trying not to have the feeling I should give up my seat to a little Japanese boy, whose father set him on a suitcase next to me when they lost their seats.

Rainer has some back problems, he thinks maybe from falling asleep in his chair. Otherwise OK. His orchestra has made two new recordings with their new music director, who hasn't even officially started.

Did I mention that my friend Jeff (in Dortmund) was singing Nacht in Venedig (Night in Venice, Strauss) in an outdoor theater in Venice, near San Marco? It was supposed to run for the next three years, and folded after five nights. Everyone left as quickly as they could, since not even the hotel was paid after the first week.

Schwetzingen is very charming. All the buildings up to the castle look like they belong to the castle (maybe did). The castle itself is only high at the entrance. The theater is small (2,300 seats), three tiers, and more rococo and less wooden than the one at Ludwigsburg.

They finally announced in Mannheim what's coming next year. New: yet another Traviata, Rossini's Silk Ladder, Donizetti Anna Bolena concertant, Puccini Trittico (which I've never done), Jenufa, a world premiere and another Mannheim court opera. Repeats: Don Giovanni, Rigoletto, Lohengrin, Parsifal, Butterfly, Lucia, Forza del Destino, etc.

Our intendantin [director, fem.] is back with her premature American baby, but is not allowed to work until the end of the month.

June 30: [I expressed surprise that Frau Intendantin had timed her pregnancy to overlap the beginning of a new season. Such things don?t worry German employers as they do American.]

Nobody knew that Intendantin Gerber was pregnant, and we all saw her at the Strauss premiere at the end of March. She is working again now.

Played Italian arias at a four-course meal in Heidelberg yesterday, and for another big meal for theater sponsors tonight in the Mannheim castle. Unlike the singers, who mostly didn't eat until they were through singing, I kept up with all the courses, just making sure I didn't drink too much. Good thing, because the star soprano had some inventive moments, and the lighting was dim by the time we were on, after the crispy duck.

Sunday free; Monday the piano dress rehearsal of Lucio Silla in Schwetzingen. Supposedly they changed the premiere date from July 7th to the 10th because of all the weddings that are taking place there on 7-7-07 [considered a lucky date.]

We brought out a second run of Cosi recently. A lot of work for just three performances, but that's typical here. Cosi is not a hit like Figaro or Flute, but there is some beautiful music, and such a bittersweet ending.

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