We arrived to start this journey at the very beginning of September, and during a conversation with a friend back in the states the other day, they pointed out that this has basically been like a semester abroad. Yesterday, during a farewell lunch with my dear friend and colleague, Susie, a good friend from my HGO Studio days who has been on the music staff of the tour and also playing the continuo for the Così fan tutte performances, she asked me what I have learned on this tour. It made me think back to student days when our lives were actually divided up into semesters, and our lives changed dramatically in the span of those 12 – 14 week stretches, our minds soaking up new a constant, endless flow of lessons like sponges.
Some of the things I've learned have been new information. Little things like the English have this habit of saying "Are you alright?" instead of "How are you?", which had me thinking that I constantly looked like I was depressed for weeks until I realized what they were actually asking. Many of the discoveries I've made about life and music in the last three months have been a deepening of my understanding of things I already thought I understood thoroughly. I've rediscovered how much I love to perform. After last season's intense study with my teacher in New York, I've had ample practice time to integrate a lot of what I learned there into my repertoire – both new and old – and I have new questions for when I head back. I've learned how to be rooted a bit more in the present moment and really enjoy the positive aspects of my time on the road, despite the great homesickness I feel at times. I've discovered new friends and deepened friendships with old ones. I've dug deeper into Fenton's character, finding more layers to him than I realized were there before. I've learned that we can always give the audience more. At the end of this adventure, I find that while I feel a great sense of accomplishment and pride, I also feel quite humble and more open than ever.
To all of my colleagues in the cast, orchestra, crew, music staff, and chorus these past three months, thank you for an incredible time. It's been an extraordinary three months, and I leave a slightly different person thanks to the good times we have shared together.