Mary's musical adventures

Sallie Satterthwaite's picture

“Guten Tag, Mutti,” writes Mary, from her post as our Correspondent in Europe. It seems there was a mix-up in schedules, and she made a whirlwind tour that covered southern Germany, Austria, and Switzerland earlier this year.

Mary is not effusive. I may go on for 10 minutes about something I enjoyed, and from her I get a bemused “Umm.” Not to suggest she wasn’t paying attention. Au contraire, she can flash up that conversation years later, and is rarely wrong about details.

My memory files are rusting out, so I’m thinking of ordering her to come home and be my rememberer. Fat chance. She makes more than I could pay her.

I came across the e-letters she wrote about the adventure and thought I’d share them with you. They are about as effusive as Mary ever gets.

The first was a card for our anniversary in March:
“Happy Anniversary, Happy Springtime!

I saw a couple thousand of the millions of crocuses [the City of Düsseldorf] planted along the Rhine. We had beautiful sunny weather yesterday, and today. The beds of daffodils around the city are also nice.

I am making a very short trip to Austria tomorrow, just south of the Bodensee. Will be in the IC [the fast express train] that goes along the Rhine and then swings over to Ulm; should be nice sightseeing.

The restaurant next door (Mare) closed at the end of Feb. without me noticing, but soon a new place is opening up, named Electric Brasserie. As long as they don’t have electric music at night.”

[Her opera company is doing a revival of Donizetti’s Daughter of the Regiment, and she plays the piano on stage and then does some funny skipping around the stage – wearing a “fat suit” to look, well, fat.]

“I tried on my fat suit for Daughter of the Regiment. The costumes were created for Monte Carlo in 1996 (?), then went to Geneva and to Düsseldorf in 2000; they all belong to the staging. So they washed them all before this round.

I think my stuffing got moved around; they ended up cutting open and taking some out so that my skirt and top fit. My “breasts” are also rather uneven….

I got called at the last minute to play a Stravinsky piece with Rainer’s orchestra on tour. He had suggested me months ago, but they forgot that they needed a pianist ‘til last week. So late that Rainer couldn’t switch and come with me.

We rode in two busses, so everybody has two seats each, to Basel [in Switzerland], staying just over the border in Germany because it’s cheaper. The first concert was the next night in Neuchatel, then in Fribourg, both not too far from Bern, but in the French area, returning to the same hotel. So, lots of hours in the bus. The hotel was in a commercial area, so it was a hike to see anything, but I walked to a Design Museum in a Frank Gehry building, which had an exhibition of Gehry models, including the three office buildings in Düsseldorf that Dad hated so.

The next day, I took the train into Basel (just one stop away), and the streetcar back out to a nearby village with an exceptional art museum. What I missed is the world’s longest pedestrian bridge,` which crosses the Rhine to France (3 Laenderbrücke). We didn’t get back until late and had to leave at 3 or 4 p.m. for the concerts, not much time for sightseeing.

The third day, we drove five hours to Füssen: A nice snowy panorama, first in Switzerland, and then crossing Austria for a few miles near Lake Constance into Germany.) We were all starving by the time we got there; I found Maultaschen [A pocket-like dough pouch full of cheese or meat in a savory broth, a favorite of mine.

Had 20 minutes sightseeing, back to the hotel, and a 40-minute drive to Marktoberdorf, south of Füssen. Didn’t see Neuschwanstein. The first two hours of the drive back had to be one of the prettiest drives I’ve ever had on the Autobahn – glistening white trees and houses, mostly blue sky and sun, or a little foggy.

When we got through the Swabian Alb mountains between Stuttgart and Ulm, the snow disappeared, although it was still cold.

Now it’s back to Düsseldorf....Hope to hear from you soon, with some ideas about the spring/summer?

My dress rehearsal went well last night, except a guy who pushes me offstage twice managed to hurt my hand again.

It’s beautiful here. I hope I’ve convinced Rainer to drive to Keukenhof and maybe either past some tulip fields or to Leiden. Last week when we discovered we both were free, he acted like we would go to Holland, and then at some point asked if there was some place closer, and we ended up in the big park in Essen.

Saturday he has the premiere of a concert version of Rheingold, and Monday Zar and Zimmermann, and I have to play in the orchestra of a rather cute ‘Puss and Boots’ opera for young people Monday and maybe rehearsals on Saturday, leaving Sunday for Easter dinner with the ‘kids’.
Liebe Gruesse,”