I hadn't seen him in thirteen years, not since the monumental production that changed things for us both. He took the train into Vienna between his performances and we went to eat good old-fashioned American hamburgers. He brought (so considerate, such a dork, the man I remember) the cast list from the old show, and we went through it: who's famous now, who's not famous but working, who's out of the business. That man's kid just graduated from college, that soprano's a lawyer now, that star-in-the-making quit opera and went to California. We tried to avoid growing somber as we realized two from that list had died. We talked about the failing health of the maestro and the invincibility of the director, the sea changes in the house and the business, the incredible fortune of our lives. We parted at the station, each heading back for some sleep before the next performance.
Before I slept, another conversation with another colleague, too much to summarize this morning but full of connection to the dinner over hamburgers. As our generation of performers begins to leave the stage, what are we leaving behind? As performers, as teachers, as mentors, as practitioners of our various crafts, are we emphasizing the things that will sustain our art?
To be continued.