Real-Life Professional

It’s the first day of a project and you have that tell-tale itchyness in you chest: you know for sure that some damned flu bug has found a temporary home in your warm, moist bronchial passages, just the very ones you rely on to play the flute. My body temp. went down to below 35 C that night and I called in sick the next day with a fever of 38 C. But then the dilema: do you find a replacement for the gig NOW, or do you take the positive attitude “I’ll be better for a day of rest”. Stupid me, I’m always the optimist. After the free day, still ill , too late to find a replacement and a concert on the morrow, I just had to do it no matter what. And relatively drug free since I am still breast feeding.

So Saturday morning, still feverish, I boarded the train for Berlin. Just a dress rehearsal, concert, and night train home. Do-able. Even with a coughing fit that delayed the second half of the concert.

But my sorry story is not the highlight of this memorable evening of Berlin’s Ultraschall Festival. The night before the concert, our wonderful soloist of the evening, soprano R. Hardy stepped out of the airport in Berlin and broke her leg in two places below the knee. She came to dress rehearsal, casted up and sitting in a wheelchair, ready to throw in the towel. Or not quite just yet…. it actually went well! There aren’t many singers who could manage K. Ospald’s “und es regnet” even with their legs in one piece! But she is amazing. So we decided to go ahead with the piece – we even discussed and arranged that our conductor would wheel her out on stage and how we would all “bow”.

After much ado – we are more than a little nervous and tossing around the phrase “Break a leg” – the big moment arrives. The lights dim, the festival director himself goes on stage to explain the accident, we enter and await the conductor and soloist. Thunderous applause as she is wheeled carefully in, right leg immobilized, sticking out straight in front. The conductor manages to park her, but while looking for the brake lever, accidently loosens the lever that held her right leg up. The leg takes a dive, we all let out a gasp***. But it seems no harm done – Ms. Hardy even made the joke “I wanted to write on the bottom of my foot (which the audience could see, as her right leg was extended pointing at them) “YES WE CAN” ” The audience loved it.

Afterwards, we asked if it had hurt, when the lever was released and her leg fell down. She just replied “Oh never mind”.

I could only gape in wonder.




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