On Wednesday night I sent a text:
I just spoke to Rolando. I'd tried taking a photo a few minutes earlier but someone had moved into the frame so I asked if I could take another and he said "for your website?" OMG!!!
After Eugene Onegin, I went past the Stage Door and realised that there was a fair crowd but not too many, so I paused to think, and I ended up going in.
Of the names, Amanda Roocroft was first out. She made straight for Smelly Psycho Stalker: I was wondering whether she wanted to get him over with; she had her back to me and accidentally hit my arm and was profuse with apologies, even calling me "Madame". She looked ever so relieved when I did a "Don't worry, no need to apologise" face and gesture, and also that I was "normal". Either she was in a hurry or she is a bit of a whirlwind. But she seemed pleasant enough.
Eric Halfvarson was next. He seemed very nice, although reserved. The woman I was standing with told him that when he had played Claggart in Vienna she had gone to meet him but she had slipped and broken her arm and he was "I hope it wasn't my fault, I hope I didn't frighten you." She assured him it was just one of those things. I said I really liked the aria and thanked him. He thanked me for coming.
Next was Dmitri - more about him later. I did not get a photo, which is a shame because he is spectacularly photogenic.
Finally Rolando appeared and really did not seem in any hurry. He spent ages with the people near the automatic door, which was great because as he moved away from them they departed. I did try taking a photo but I sensed someone move into the frame. So, as he was walking backwards towards the street door I asked if I had could have another attempt, which was when he said "For your website?" I did a double take step back, a bit embarrassed, and then we hugged. I took one:
He suggested that I took one of his t-shirt. I had a sneaking suspicion that it said something rude, and he explained to the woman next to me (who I calculated was seventy plus although looking younger) that it was very rude, but to me he was saying it's okay if said among friends. So I'm going to publish the photo, even though I'm not really sure...
I asked him what he's doing next season, and he said "Nothing" so I went "Oh no!" in dismay (genuine spontaneous reaction) but he said the following season he will be doing The Elixir of Love and Don Carlo. I said "Brilliant" and that I absolutely loved the aria from Elisir on his first album (but its name slipped my mind - Una furtiva lagrima...duh!). I said "But I love the Donizetti on the latest album" which I've just realised makes no sense because L'elisir is also Donizetti. Stupid stupid stupid!
Someone asked him about his Russian and he said he spent two hour with the Russian language coach today and he's got more tomorrow and he did a slitting motion across his throat. But he's asked Gergiev if he can sing Lensky at the Marinsky...
Back to Dimitri: He was chatting a while to a very small number of people, then he came out of the door with the wall button, and Smelly Psycho Stalker addressed him in Russian and they were talking in Russian. Then he dashed away not pausing for the other six or eight people either side of the automatic door. I thought he glared at me but at the time I assumed it was a non-specific glare, but later I also wondered whether he has seen the SOSSLED Day Out post, and I feel kind of bad about that.
First of all, Faye is a massive fan of Dima, whereas I have slightly different feelings. I think he is a superb singer and excellent musician, and I have never come away disappointed in his singing. Conversely, the overall performance of his I enjoyed the most was the concert at the Barbican, when I felt he really reached out to the audience. I would certainly never avoid a production because of him and I am pretty damn sure that he would always be a 'pull factor'. But my natural reaction when with someone who really likes is to adopt cynicism, plus I'm never going to elbow Faye out of the way to get to Dima.
Furthermore, I firmly believe that once the final curtain has gone down, singers - or any other performer - owe nothing to the audience. The fact that some stop and talk to fans, and appear to enjoy it, maybe because they're on an adrenaline high post-performance, or because they believe that it is helpful PR, or because they're naturally gregarious. But there is nothing wrong with singers who choose not to linger or are brief and business-like. Furthermore, I understand Dima is a fellow-smoker and I would not be surprised if he just wanted to get somewhere and light up where he wouldn't get some nagging bat saying "You're a singer, you shouldn't smoke."
I also hope that the "Haughty Russkie" isn't seen as offensive. Again we are somewhat disrespectful about the names we give our favourite singers. No offence intended.
But I feel really bad that he might have read my post and been offended. That was never my intention and if it came across that way I can only apologise. Of course, how conceited does this read - as if world-famous baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky is likely to read my blog. But world-famous tenor Rolando Villazón has, so who knows. And it certainly isn't anything to do with Faye, who really really likes Dmitri and is looking forward to seeing him soon.
Maybe we should have some cards made to hand to singers. On one side "You have been SOSSLED" and on the other "We are a group of respectable sensible women with considerable status in our respective professions. We just happen to like singers. We refer to stalking, but that stops outside the curtilage of opera house/concert hall. We are non-threatening, and don't have a criminal record between us, although Faye does have some Andrea Bocelli, which I suppose counts..."