Playing George Benjamin’s Written on Skin in New York was one of those dream projects that I was lucky enough to be part of.
We had 2 weeks in New York rehearsing and then performing Written On Skin at the Lincoln Centre for the Mostly Mozart Festival. Being 2 weeks in one place on tour is a luxury that none of us take for granted, and when it is a city like New York it’s a dream!!
I played the premiere of the opera 3 years ago in Aix-en-Provence with George Benjamin conducting and loved it. It is a real masterpiece that everybody I know who saw it has raved about. An amazing cast combined with a fantastic set makes it truly unique. And I have to say I still have the themes running through my head even though they are not considered to be classically tonal!
I arrived from Australia on the Monday evening so had a full day to recover before rehearsals started on the Wednesday. I have been to New York many times but never get sick of just walking around. We were very lucky with the weather. It had been really hot and humid before we arrived but was perfect for the entire time we were there apart from one day of rain.
We were staying on the Upper West side on Broadway and 75th which was the perfect location to be based. We were walking distance to the hall and close to Central Park. My first stop was to an Australian coffee place called Little Collins on Lexington Ave as it is actually hard to find a coffee place in NYC that isn’t Starbucks! Walking through Central Park in Summer to get across town is one of my favourite things to do. There are amazing jazz bands and singers just busking there and the size of Central Park never ceases to amaze me! I had planned on jogging every day there but that didn’t seem to eventuate…
The first 5 days were spent rehearsing but then we were actually quite free as there was only a performance every second day. Everybody really crammed in a lot. Shopping is a must of course in New York but then there are shows to see, countless museums and art galleries, the highline, jazz clubs, beer bars, burger joints…the list goes on! One of the nicest things I did was see Klimt’s Woman in Gold at the Neue Galerie. I had seen the film recently and loved it so to see the painting was really special. I also saw some 1920’s jazz in the east village, went to an amazing underground sake bar, saw jazz at the Village Vanguard and had a burger for breakfast that hadn't changed anything since 1949! In general we all ate really well. I can never get sick of wandering through Wholefoods….
But what was really special was being part of this wonderful production. The cast was amazing as always and the orchestra sounded fantastic. We received a massive ovation every time we were stood up and the whole thing was a huge success.
I'm already missing the production and can't wait to be in New York again!