Hanging with opera singers

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Anne-Carolyn Bird, a soprano in Louise, was at the press luncheon. She has a minor part, one of the shop girls, a kind of sing-and-dance role. This is her first year at Spoleto, a moment that inspired her, at my request, to discuss some of the travails of being not just an artist but one who's married to another artist.

She spends about 60 percent of her year on the road. Even when she's in New York City, where they live, she might not see her husband, who also travels. A lot. Their hope, and any artist's hope, is the Big Break. It's on their minds constantly. Interestingly, Bird said it's hard to know when the Big Break comes. It might be visible months or even years after the fact. It's a case of not knowing what you don't know until you know it.

I pressed her for some funny anecdotes about playing Camilles, the shop girl. Has she broken a heel yet? Have there been wardrobe malfunctions, etc.? No such thing to report, but Bird did recount another time when she was playing the lead in a French opera (I don't remember which one) that required her to change clothes on stage behind a screen.

While she changed, she is supposed to be handed unseen two gloves, props for the forthcoming scene. At that moment, someone said something to her in English, but Bird was thinking in French and whatever it was didn't register. Until she resumed her scene. That's when she realized she'd been handed two left gloves.

Nothing like this has emerged from Louise.

Yet. The festival is still young. -JS

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