As you can tell, I'm enjoying it, especially because these leisurely days are numbered. At work, the focus in the winter is squarely on big ideas...long-range planning, new projects, new words to describe what we do. All of this daydreaming and planning is in stark contrast to the game we play all summer: Whack-A-Mole.
You remember Whack-a-Mole, right? A horizontal surface that's studded with holes like a huge piece of swiss cheese; little plastic moles poking through those holes at random, taunting, aggravating intervals. Your job is to bop those little buggers in the noggin with a big, padded mallet so that they go back into their holes.
(Admit it. You remember. I bet you were a fantastic Mole-Bopper.)
That's our summer, in a nutshell. No time for long-range planning because overnight our little operation grows from 2.5 people to over 80. Projects and personalities all vie for attention, and our parent Foundation reels at the number of new bodies in the building. Here's a look at a fictional, yet plausible, summer day at Wolf Trap Opera.
8:00am Awake. Caffeinate, walk the dog, shower, collect purse and computer and head to the office. If I'm lucky I've had time to hit the gym...but today's not that day.
9:45am Walk into the office and poke my head into the rehearsal room. Stage management is setting up for a 10am rehearsal, and the PSM tells me that the wine bottles are missing from the prop table. Seems that the hyper-vigilant cleaning staff have recycled the props - way to go green! Head downstairs to my office to call the shop, in the hope that the propsmaster is agreeable to draining several wine bottles before noon. He agrees: I'm equal parts relieved and concerned...
10:00am The Facilities director calls my attention to the espresso machine that is against regulation and hiding in the corner of the copy room. I beg for dispensation until September for 'medical' reasons. Bullet dodged, no blood lost.
10:10am. Finally reach my office. Log into my email to see that the costume shop is missing some fabric that they need for an afternoon fitting. Head to the mail room to scout for the package - there it is! - and pick up the mail...most of it's for the artists, but there's a bill or two for me.
10:30am Head to the costume shop to say hi and deliver the fabric. Chit-chat with the designer and collect reimbursement receipts from her. Remind the shop of the lunchtime concert, if they can get away from their sewing. (it's a wild hope at this point in the season, but I want them to be in the loop!)
11:00am Back at my desk. Return some emails. Proof some ads, and find some old copy...grumble, edit and send to the second floor. Talk to some studio singers who are struggling with rooming situations. Hand out some advil and some chocolate. Pay the bills and update the budget...it's tight this year, so I'm trying to stay on top of every penny...it's taking more brain power than in recent seasons.
12:05pm Crap! The lunch recital's started and I got totally sucked into my expenses spreadsheet! Run upstairs to hear some of the singers and a coach tear up some of the summer repertoire in an informal concert in the atrium. The Foundation staff have lined both the perimeter of the atrium AND circled the upper level - it's hard to find a spot!
12:45pm Time to start on tomorrow's schedule: send the intern into the rehearsal room with the mail to wait out the end of the session. Her instructions? To grab the artistic team and squeeze some information from them regarding the scenes and personnel needed for the next day's rehearsal blocks. In the meantime, I call the two children's choirs that we're working with for the summer to check in on numbers and to confirm the rehearsal schedules. Discover that we're in need of more kids...start emailing every choral teacher and church choir director in my rolodex, and consider placing an audition announcement.
1:15pm The intern comes back down to her desk...she doesn't have a lot to work with from the rehearsal room. She hits up the Studio Administrator and the coaches for their wish lists. I spend some quality time with technical specs and pricing for some projection equipment, and realize it's over my head AND over my budget. Call the designer to talk me through it.
1:45pm Media interview with a new young artist and RT...pretend to be an interviewer (I have a face for radio...) and lob questions, some designed to elicit information, some to disarm, some to trip-up. This particular singer's pretty self-possessed and articulate, so it's a fun 15 minutes: and now we have an interesting angle to shop to some media folk to get him a little more attention.
2:00pm Why am I so grumpy? Oh, right...lunch. Grab a sandwich from the vending machine and head into KPW's office for a staff meeting. These are difficult to both schedule and keep on the calendar ('oh, let's skip it today- we're too busy.'), but they're SO important; it keeps us from repeating efforts, and males sure that everyone's in the loop. My to-do list grows exponentially after these sessions.
3:00pm Touch base with the P and P office at the Filene Center regarding tomorrow's National Symphony concert. Morning load-in means an 8:00am call. Resolve to set the alarm early enough to swing by Cenan's for muffins. Email the Symphony to get their backstage list and updated timings for the show.
3:15pm Check with the Company Manager regarding SB's residency: ensure he has a larger room, a fridge and that the pool is in service. Make sure she has petty cash to pick up dinner for him, and that the driver is scheduled to pick him up from the airport. Run upstairs in a panic to make sure that the scooter has been delivered to the rehearsal room. Whew! It's there.
3:40pm Check email. 65 new messages. Ugh. Return 3 phone messages.
4:00pm Grab laptop and resolve to return emails in the rehearsal room...some good music will make it easier.
4:45pm The rehearsal breaks - IM the intern and ask her to hit up the artistic staff for schedule info again: if she doesn't get it now, she'll be here into the evening...and I know she has tickets to the Filene Center concert this evening! Check in with the conductor and director, and wander over to the Barns to see how construction is going. Looking good! We're in great shape for the start of tech week.
6:00pm Rehearsal's over. I've responded to all 65 email messages and the 20 that arrived while I was in the rehearsal room. Have even made a pass at Kim's supertitles - they look good, as usual. I head back down to my office to clean up before the evening's donor event.
6:02pm I'm allowed to steal cheese cubes before the event begins, right? I'll just take a few...
6:30pm Still at my desk, proofing the last program draft. I've seen so many proofs that I can't remember what we've changed without looking at the comments from the last several iterations.
6:35pm Officially late for the Donor Meet-And-Greet, but I have to get these check requests up to Finance tonight - it takes at least two days to get them through, unless I have sufficient good-quality chocolate to bribe Accounts Payable. Check my candy stash just-in-case...
6:50pm Finally make it through the door of the donor event, and say hello to several of our good friends and close supporters. Wend my way to the Lecture Hall for Kim's pre-show lecture, then head over to the Barns to take the temperature of backstage and front-of-house. The company manager has the CD station set up with copies of Volpone and the intern is taking care of the artist ticket requests at the box office. Wait, isn't that Mr. Big from the Big City Opera Company? We didn't know he was coming - we don't have a seat on hold for him! The company manager graciously volunteers to sit on the steps with me, and Mr. Big gets a seat where he can hear and see all of our artists well...hoping something pans out for one (or more) of them!
7:35pmThe lobby powerpoint display is frozen: after some judicious plugging and unplugging (coupled with a few choice words) the display is up and running again. Head downstairs and stick my head into the chorus warm up and greet a few orchestra players en route to the pit. Grab receipts from the Makeup Designer and run them over to my office.
8:02pm Sneak into the Barns back stairwell as the orchestra tunes. Listen to Act 1 through the curtain. Proof tomorrow's schedule one last time before the intern prints and distributes.
9:35pm. Intermission. Hand out final payments to designers and the director. Make sure the Center for Ed is locked.
9:55pm Sneak back into the Barns to listen to Act 2... wow, the soprano really nailed that floaty phrase...made it sound easy. Awesome. Tweet about it. Proof Symphony programs for next week's shows.
10:40pm Curtain Call. Hang in the lobby after the show to chit-chat with patrons. Run a set of programs, the proofed Symphony papers, and the checks that need to be mailed back over to the office. Beg off the cast party because of the early morning Symphony call.
11:15pm Pack up and leave the office. Turn around in the parking lot to let a key-less singer back into the rehearsal hall to collect their belongings. Sigh audibly.
If you'd like to learn more about Wolf Trap Opera and our 2010 season, you'll find loads of links here at Kim's blog. We hope to see you this summer!
- Idle time.
- Interesting work.
- Good things happening to good people.