2016 Greater Colorado Tour The Final Chapter | Day Two

The circus came to town! At least I think it did because apparently the act featuring frolicking pachyderms was staying in the room above mine last night. By the sound of it, they must have been practicing jumping through hoops or something. .. Good morning readers! Tour isn’t always a bed of roses, but I’m up and ready to get the day started.

The Pancake Letter A
The Mysterious Pancake

It’s rainy and the mountains are getting snow this morning. I’m hoping we can get over Monarch Pass before things get too rough. I head downstairs to meet the group for breakfast. Danielle and Alaina decide to stay at the hotel. Charles is still asleep, so it’s just Emily, Ben and Will joining me. We walk across the street and hit a local spot known for their pancakes. As we climb into our booth, I manage to knock Emily’s silverware onto the floor whilst also whacking my elbow hard enough to leave a dent – in said elbow. Oh well, it wouldn’t be tour unless I came home with some new bruises. Sitting at our table, we notice a book entitled, “How to understand Women.” Will, always looking to better his skills in whatever life throws at him, grabs it and begins to instruct the rest of our party. We order and discuss. When our breakfast arrives, I have a moment of pure disbelief when I look at my pancakes. I took a picture because I was sure no one would believe it unless they saw it. Readers… my pancakes had the letter “A” on them – the same “A” that we utilized in The Scarlet Letter. OK, this one is sugar and cinnamon, and on a pancake, and not emblazoned across a woman’s chest, but otherwise it’s the same! Did someone tell them we were coming? How could they know the significance of this otherwise? After several minutes of deduction, gleefully observed by a grinning Ben, I realize that the “A” on my breakfast is in fact, to represent my APPLE pancakes.

Storms 2
Storms Rolling In

Breakfast consumed, we head back to the hotel to pack up, check out and load the vehicles. Charles has awoken but missed breakfast, so he makes a quick run to a coffee shop. Alaina looks less awake than I when I saw her earlier and she’s just now eating her breakfast, but we manage to get everyone in their seats and hit the road. We’re behind schedule – looks like it’s going to be one of those days. We’re headed to Gunnison where we’ll stop for lunch and a grocery run and then we’ll continue on to Lake City. As we begin the ascent over Monarch, the weather looks dreary. It starts to snow and we get stuck behind a truck hauling trucks (not a typo). At the next passing lane we manage to get around him and visibility gets a bit better. Emily and Alaina are having a very in depth conversation about the colors around us. Emily likes the fresh green of the trees as they are blooming for spring and Alaina likes the green of the grass against the grey of the sky. They both agree this is why there are never enough colors of green in a box of crayons or colored pencils; deficient shade variations.

We make it over the pass and the snow changes over to rain. The river here is just about ready to jump its banks but the green gets even more diverse. Ben is snapping pictures left and right as the car inhabitants discuss the difference between a llama and an alpaca, a buffalo and bison and just what makes a yam, a yam. These people are thinkers.

We reach Gunnison and stop to get gas for the vehicles. The Yeti has taken two direct hits of rocks to the windshield, but they are small and we’ll just have to keep an eye on them. Next, we navigate the parking lot of doom on our way to the grocery store. Between the rain, the potholes and drivers acting like Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and declaring, “You shall not pass!” I wasn’t sure we were going to make it, but we did. We’re being housed in a cabin for the next two nights by the arts council of Lake City, so we’ve decided to pool our resources and cook. I’m makin’ fajitas! We also grab food for lunch and breakfast and then head back to the cars. My passengers eat while I drive and we make our way to Lake City. We’re almost back on schedule.

No – we’re not. Road work. We’re waylaid until further notice. I check my mirror to make sure that Charles and Will are doing OK in the Yeti – they are. They send us a snapchat photo of them to verify that. Once we’re moving again, the scenery changes. We’re now passing by ranches, meadows and rivers and finally a reservoir that marks our turn off. Our pace slows down a bit more as the road twists and turns and winds down into a canyon. Emily comments that she saw a cool skeleton off the side of the road. I decide now is not the time to tell them that the road we’re on dead ends in Lake City and that this region has a rather infamous connection to cannibalism…

Lake City marquee
On the Marquee!

We drive through more rain and snow, but we make it. Lake City we have arrived! We see that they’ve listed our performance tonight on the marquee of the theater and there are posters all over town. I call our contact, Dan, and then show everyone the space. We begin the process of loading in the set, costumes and props and then setting up. Dan and I go over the details for today and tomorrow. Once that’s done, we have to revisit Carmen. We’ve been away from it for over a month and this show is intense and it can very easily go awry if everyone isn’t focused. I have them review staging, take a close look at the fight scene, make sure scene changes can be done correctly in the space we have to work with and then give them time to go over any music that they want or need to. Then it’s a dialogue drill. Pieces in place, we head to our cabin to get settled.

It’s something of a process to load in luggage and groceries for seven people. Once we sort out who is sleeping where and put the corresponding bags in their proper places, we have just a little down time before dinner. I try to get some work done while Will naps upstairs. Danielle and Charles walk into town. Alaina goes for a hike and so does Emily. Ben decides to climb a mountain. So he can get some pictures, of course. In my head, I already know how this is going to end for everyone, even the slumbering Will. The altitude is sneaky. They are going to feel it and probably right about the time of our performance tonight. I’ve told them about this a couple times already so I decide to let them arrive at the full realization on their own. Everyone gets back safely, having had a lovely time but feeling a little winded. There’s a knock on the door and one of members of the arts council’s board is here. His name is Don and he’s brought us a lite dinner. He’s even brought music themed table decorations. He leaves and then another member of the board arrives with more food. Then another, and another. By the time it’s all said and done, we have a table full of food and enough to snack on after the performance. This community really welcomes us with open arms and we are so grateful.

Music themed table decorations
Table Decorations

We sit at the table and eat and laugh at Danielle’s love of grapes. Then Emily, Alaina and I clean up and we all get ready. We’re all in our performance clothes just in time for the downpour to start. We ladies are not amused as we just did our hair. Danielle is especially outspoken. I go out to the rental and somehow manage to turn it around on the side of the mountain. It was an electric experience – literally. This car has sensors on the sides that tell you when you’re close to something and they relay that message to the driver’s seat, which buzzes. Since I am trying to turn something the size of a tank around in an area roughly the size of a kiddie pool, which is also the home of a rather large propane container, I got buzzed a lot. I really feel that I was only able to do it because I had the emotional support of Emily and Danielle in the back seat. Their cheerleading chants of, “You’ve got this… Oh, no wait…” were quite inspirational. Car now facing the correct direction, everyone else jumps in and we head to the theater.

Warm-ups happen as I finish setting lights with Dan and then we clear the stage. The weather is getting worse so tonight’s audience may be smaller than expected, but we’ll be happy performing for whoever comes out to see us. Tonight’s program is a double bill. The first half will be an Arias & Ensembles, then an intermission and then we’ll finish the evening with Carmen. I give some final notes and then go out to start the performance. I try to program a performance like this with some pieces that are familiar and some that are less recognizable. It allows us to reach an audience with things they know and like and then introduce them to some other repertoire which gets them excited about new things too. Whenever I can, I also try to include pieces from upcoming operas that Opera Colorado is doing so we can highlight the season. Tonight we don’t have anything from the upcoming season specifically, but I do include a piece by both Puccini and Donizetti so we can talk about Fanciulla del West and Lucia de Lammermoor. Things go well, but everyone is a bit rusty and there are some bumps in the program. I go out to announce intermission and we set for the top of Carmen. Backstage, I talk about being focused and staying present on stage. We have some additional bumps – the shoes for Charles’ character got left behind so he wears his own. Danielle has a wardrobe malfunction with her tights, so we find another pair. It’s this side of live theater that no one ever really knows about. The backstage portion. There’s always something that has to be handled on the spot and you deal with things as best you can based on what you have to work with. If we do our jobs well, our audience shouldn’t have a clue.


I go back on stage and begin the second half of the show. The audience has grown a bit and they are excited to see Carmen. I introduce Alaina and then Charles enters to start the first scene. This is when I sit backstage and listen. I can tell by how the Young Artists sing and the way the deliver their lines how the show is going to go. This one? It’s going to be good. Their focus is where it needs to be now. Emily exits after her duet with Ben and is beaming. She says it felt great. By the middle of the show, my prediction rings true and they are feeling the altitude. The guys are really winded during the fight scene. Lovely photographs notwithstanding, Ben is now regretting his attempt to be king of the mountain. During part of the fight, the stage knife hits just perfectly and bounces into the audience. Live. Theater. Ben manages to retrieve it and Charles adapts what he has to do accordingly. Everyone pushes through and bows are met with enthusiastic applause.

We each introduce ourselves and start the Question & Answer portion of the evening. We are still talking with the audience 30-minutes later. They are genuinely interested in what we do and how we do it. We get the question “What was your path to get here?” Will becomes the human GPS and tells them the roads we took to get to Lake City. I make sure to thank the arts council for hosting us and going out of their way to make us feel welcomed and we spend a final few minutes speaking with them one on one. The Young Artists get out of costume and we bid Dan goodnight. Then we pile in the car and head back to the cabin where, to everyone’s delight, we have homemade cake waiting for us. The seven of us sit around the table, eating cake, answering Trivial Pursuit questions and relaxing. Charles bemoans the fact that Will has seen more wildlife on the trip than he has. Apparently Will even saw a coyote when we were near Gunnison. It was by itself. It’s this little piece of information that allows Charles to tell us his theory. Apparently, this coyote was alone because it had rabies. Why… this is new information and we take great delight in telling Charles so. Will even reenacts when the other coyotes told the rabid member of their tribe to skedaddle. Based on Will’s accent, these are Minnesotan coyotes. We tell more stories as Alaina licks the frosting off of the foil that was covering the cake (they ate the entire thing). I go over my plan for the workshops tomorrow and then we call it a day. A few people are going to enjoy the hot tub for a bit (in the snow), others are headed to bed. Still others are taking the opportunity to grab a shower while it’s free. There are seven of us and two bathrooms. Just like backstage, you find a way to make it work. I head to my room to blog about the day and then try to get some sleep. I’m really hoping for a restful night free of performing pachyderms.

Sleep well readers,



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