Mary's Letters in Spring

Sallie Satterthwaite's picture

Found a few letters I had filed away in case of column depravation. So many of you tell me you like to read of Mary’s adventures in Europe. Permit me.

In case you are relatively new to town, let me introduce you to our elder daughter, Mary, an opera accompanist in Dusseldorf on the Rhine River in what we used to call West Germany. She works an irregular schedule hinging on rehearsals and personal coaching, and gladly gets on a bus to help with a distant venue and a company of mixed nationalities.

They like her, she likes them, and she makes herself available for concerts when a pianist is needed. For all this travel, museum-hopping and truly eclectic cuisines, she gets paid.

She looks forward to summer…don’t all Germans?

“I bought a years pass for the big park in Mannheim, since it costs 4 Euros a visit, and Sunday walked along the Neckar [River] until reaching the requisite Fernseh 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.”
[Fernseh means TV tower. Fern means far, seh means see or seeing.]

“Happy Mothers Day! Here’s to more than 50 more years of motherhood!” she wrote later in the spring. She gives herself a lot of credit for making me a mother.

She continues: “It’s cloudy for the first time in weeks. Has been unusually sunny and dry that I have to put cream on my face. I think the farmers will be happy soon.”

It may be a genetic defect, but shes almost as bad as I am for losing things, like a pair of shoes and glasses.

“Wearing my new glasses called lost and found a few times, but they never turned up.

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 the 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.”

After an al fresco concert: “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 piano.) Some official thought to provide little huts for the musicians to change in, and she warmed up on a table with a metronome going), and the new Armenian soprano star from Gelsenkirchen sang some Boheme and Butterfly. Now Im 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. His orchestra has made two new recordings with their new music director, who hasnt even officially started.Write him to remind him of any pictures you still want.”

“Did I mention that my friend Jeff (Dortmund) was singing Nacht in Venedig (Strauss) in an outdoor theater in Venice, near San Marco? 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. The castle itself is only high at the entrance. The theater is small (230 seats), three tiers and more rococo and less wooden than Ludwigsburg.They finally announced in Mannheim what’s coming next year. New is 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 Gio, “Rigoletto,” “Lohengrin,” “Parsifal,” Butterfly, Lucia, “Forza del Destino.”

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

“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 didnt eat until they were through singing, I kept up with all the courses, just making sure I didn’t drink 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 [was served]. Sunday was free; Monday the piano dress rehearsal of Lucio Silla in Schwetzingen.”

“We brought out a second run of “Cosi fan tutte” 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.
I also have a new mobile, with a fancy camera and radio and an MP3 player. Well see if I get around to exploring its possibilities, certainly didnt with the last one. At least calling is getting cheaper and cheaper.”
More next week.

[Sallie Satterthwaite of Peachtree City has been writing for The Citizen since our first issue Feb. 10, 1993. Before that she had served as a city councilwoman and as a volunteer emergency medical technician. She is the only columnist we know who has a fire station named for her. Her email is SallieS@Juno.com.]