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Posted under: "Jeff's Blog"

Jul 9, 08:14 PM

It was great to be back in Germany

All in all, my return to Germany couldn’t have gone better. Obviously, it was a wrench to leave my family behind for eight weeks but this was my chance to sing the role I’d dreamed of singing for around 20 years, Peter Grimes.

Gera is a small, unremarkable but pretty town in former East Germany, set on the banks of the Elster river. But it boasts a lovely opera theatre and a quite staggering concert hall.

The intendant, Kay Kuntze is something of a visionary and is quite prepared to rise to the challenge of bringing a varied repertoire to this backwater town. It was gratifying to find a director who truly loved the music and wanted to portray the true meaning of the piece, including a look at Britten’s own life. It was also lovely to work with the new GMD, Laurent Wagner as we all explored this fantastic piece together.

A part of my contract was the offer of accommodation. The week before I went I found out that the accommodation consisted of a bedroom with a desk and a fridge, a shower room and a toilet. No kitchen, no TV. This proved perfect for learning to play the part of a lonely man who lived in a very basic and methodical way.

The lack of a kitchen I used to my advantage by making fruit and vegetable smoothies and I combined this with long runs up the surrounding hills in an effort to build up my fitness and lose weight.

Being away from home can often be lonely but my colleagues proved to be a lovely bunch of people, all of whom seemed to love the piece as much as I did. I was also able to make use of the time to really work on my voice and I think even my singing teacher was surprised by the difference by the time I returned.

The performances went really well, although the size of the audiences was predictably disappointing. Thankfully, the reviews have all been great for the whole thing.

It will be a joy to go back and repeat the role with the same company next year but this time we will perform in another gorgeous theatre in Altenburg. Then it’s back to Gera for a new production of Jenůfa, in which I will sing the role of Laça for the first time.

I could not have enjoyed my return to German theatre any more.




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