The first time I ever saw a Schubert song, I was in the basement of a house in Nürnberg. I was on a high school exchange program, and my guest bedroom was sonically insulated by thick floors and located right next to a room that housed a harpsichord and many books of Lieder. I stayed up late into the night reading through that treasure, discovering that world.
Then Saturday, I played "An die Musik" in in the city of its birth.
The first time I ever saw the word "Prater", I was curled up on the floor between stacks of books in the Arizona State University library. I'd ended up playing rehearsals for the music school's production of Cosi, and, bitten hard, I was poring over every score I could get my hands on. This score was huge, and I had just recently cracked the code of the strange use of German articles (Er? Ihr? Euch? for one person?). But "Prater" I had to look up. Later, when I finally worked on Rosenkavalier, I practiced the weird vowel combinations and alien consonant alterations (I ho hoyt a...what?) that I heard the experienced artists using.
Then Sunday, I walked in that there Prater, and I heard that sing-song talk all around me.
My first opera house was, lucky me, San Francisco's. There I learned what life in a great company could be. I watched a great orchestra develop, watched the chorus morph into something different each day. I was part of a young artist ensemble that worked like dogs and soaked up lessons from the great visitors, singers and directors and conductors. Later, I was part of the music staff, and that transition was the first of many growing up in this far-flung, professional and personal family.
Then yesterday, I took the streetcar home, having seen three operas in 24 hours, all of which included people I am training, have trained, have worked with, have known forever, was happy to finally meet, whom I have admired for years.
The details of each day are overwhelming, frustrating - but the takeaway!