I could gush about the stunning new scenic design Cory Rodeheaver pulled off, the joy of working with lighting designer Kevin Gawley again, the adventure that was putting the new show together in a very, very limited amount of time, the phenomenal IATSE crew I LOVED working alongside of and bantering with again, or the amazing feeling when the show came together and every sold out, encouraging, enthusiastic audience applauded, gasped, and cheered.
But instead, so much of what I walked away with had to do with spending a week in the city I still call home.
Walking back into Krannert after 6 months away was weird. Falling back into old patterns and paths like no time had passed was even weirder. The week was filled with double takes, yells of my name down the long Level 2 hallway, and so many hugs I lost count. Coffee dates, dinners, Merry Ann's pancakes, late-night karaoke, and even a trip to the grad colloquium class had me both overwhelmed and greatly missing my time in that building. And yet....
While sitting in Steak 'n Shake late one night with a dear accompanist friend, discussing the last few months, sharing thoughts on news and world events, and bantering about pretty much everything, I had to take a moment to realize just how incredibly grateful I am for all of it. That I have an army of talented, passionate, soon-to-be professionals in the arts as my people. That so many of those who are dearest to me are also blindingly talented musicians, performers, designers, and technicians who are about to change the world. That already I'm finding constant connections between the people I'm working with and those I've worked with before. And that soon, I'll be hard pressed to work somewhere without knowing at least one person in the company. There aren't words for how exciting that is.
The Oh-So Improved:
By the end of the week, as full as my heart was from seeing and working with so many wonderful people, it was really great to leave again. Throughout the week, I discovered that countless aspects of the job and even personal interactions were easier. After 2 shows at Minnesota Opera (which I've lovingly been referring to as opera bootcamp), the music of The Nutcracker came eons easier. Feeling the show, understanding the ebb and flow of the cues, and anticipating our Maestro's conducting style all became things I didn't need to think about (which was great as there were TONS of other new aspects demanding my attention). Even communicating with our designers about lighting and projection placement was easier and more efficient (it's amazing what happens when you start hearing music in a different way).
Add in how easy and enjoyable it was to talk with my former professors and mentors throughout the week about what I've been up to, as well as getting pulled into a class to review current students' portfolios as a professional, and my mind is still spinning a bit at how much has changed - how much I've grown - in such a short period of time.
The morals being: I am so grateful for the opportunity to go back, work with this amazing company, and conquer the The Nutcracker once again. I am equally grateful to return to MNOp, begin prepping Rusalka, and look toward the next 4 shows (3 operas and a cabaret). But more than anything, I'm grateful for my peers - the people I got to know through grad school, and get to spend the rest of my career chasing around the globe.
As one of the wonderful MNOp shop guys said to me during Magic Flute rehearsal one day, it really is quite the silly way to make a living. And I wouldn't have it any other way.