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Via Pennino Walk

Going for a short afternoon walk and for the first time in a long time it isn’t laps of Tempelhofer Feld. along Via Pennino, Contrada Santa Croce, and Via Campoluongo. Olive trees ripe and ready for harvest, grape vines mostly already harvested (and currently the must is being siphoned next door), do not drink the water from the fountain, yes those cactus fruits are edible, and I could never get tired of this view.

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Bonnie’s Casa

Evening stroll around Bonnie’s Italian countryside villa “Not a villa” looks like at least villa-adjacent to my bogan eyes. I thought the sun and light was going to stay grotty and not put on any show, and then, surprise! Storm over Taburno massif, setting sun hitting the tuff of the old work shed, Ginger the dog posing, chooks also posing, a rainbow, cactus, and four of the five dogs allowing me a group portrait. My FujiFilm X-T4 is finally getting a workout.

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Sant’Agata de’Goti

Thursday stroll through Italian countryside to the nearby town of Sant’Agata de’Goti. Which is half on a cliff over a gorge and there’s a plaque commemorating two women who fell in love and painted frescos together (or something). It’s all ridiculously beautiful and coffee pasta wine is apparently all I want.

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Casa Bonnie, Sant’Agata de’Goti

Five dogs, seven cats, two ducks, a lot of chickens, heaps of olive trees, heaps of grapevines, fig, apricot, apple, persimmon, kaki trees, high hills and low mountains all round, old castles, churches, villas all over. Storms when I arrived and storms every day and night since. I’m sleeping so good.

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BER-NAP

A couple of months ago Bonnie said, “Come to Napoli!” Wednesday, my first time flying since 2019, first time out of Berlin since Miss Rona arrived (very masked and all for the whole trip), first time in Italy since 2014, I arrived in Napoli. And damn I forgot how much I love flying. The takeoff, the landing (it was a bumpy one), the hours above the clouds where the sky is a much darker blue.

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The Last Parsifal in Bologna

A matinee is a strange performance to finish a season on.

I thought to take some photos of the theatre, Teatro Comunale di Bologna, where we’ve been the last month; particularly the piazza where the theatre is placed on the north-west-ish side. Saturday, following the wet greyness of Friday was oppositely calm, warm, and a vault of blue. The theatre looked spectacular.

There was another photo I wanted. The first time taking the elevator to the Salle Ballo, thinking it was high up and therefore on the top floor, I ended up in the roof space above the grid, with a small window looking out across the city, through the towers to Santuario della Madonna di San Luca, a view scarcely bettered by any other high point in the city, and one only for those fortunate enough to be lost in the theatre.

We warmed up for the last time, Bonnie, Dasniya, Pericles, and I, pinning on wigs, slathering white body paint, tying up ropes, and then, once again, it was finished.

One final evening in that beautiful city, and today fleeing across the directions of the compass: Bonnie southwards, Pericles east, and Dasniya and I splitting the difference between North, her to Zürich and me to Berlin.

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Riserva Naturale Contrafforte Pliocenico

Rain, rain, rain, cold. A perfect day for wandering in the bush. If I had a rain jacket. The last free day in Bologna, and I’d decided some days ago I wanted to get out of the city and see the countryside a little, preferably somewhere in the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines which fall on the south-east side of the Via Emilia and Bologna. One place that looked especially attractive was the Riserva Naturale Contrafforte Pliocenico, sadly a long journey by bus, but excitingly close in a car. Which we pile into with Bonnie and Giovanni and the family a bit after midday.

It rains. The clouds drop, mist rises. Visibility plunges to a score of metres. More rain and colder. We drive around, decide wandering is largely a muddy, slippery, sodden proposition, and keep in the car along the winding (sideways and up-down) narrow road looking for somewhere to eat. Closed, closed, also closed. Possibly a winter thing. I’d forgotten the name by the time I got home, so pieced together the junctions on the videos out the side window I was making while in the car, and matched them on a map until I came up with Ca’ Shin on the edge of Parco Cavaioni. Also closed. But they opened for us and served a very typical platter of cheese, cured meat, bread, and honey, which we had two of (yes, that good), followed by apple tart and coffee, all local and part of an bio food community, I think.

It’s utterly beautiful up there, hills and escarpments, too steep to be described as rolling, and despite being so close to the city, having a wildness I like very much. I would be very happy to wander these hills on a day like today.

Breathing with the Annas

Tomorrow is the premiere of Parsifal and yesterday was delightfully lazy (I walked as far as a nearby café with Bonnie and ate croissants), so today was intended to be a gentle couple of hours in the studio waking up my body enough to have some momentum for what’s coming. A couple of hours turned into three, which could have gone on even longer but more excitement was at hand.

Last time, when we were in Brussels, I met the breathing/voice teacher of Anna Larsson, the other, Mad Anna, Anna Sims. A couple of times we joined them for some breathing and four-minute pauses, out of which I sensed the dim possibility that I might be able to sing. Today, primed with coffee and those hours of yoga (much sternum-elaboration at the moment), we all climbed the five flights of stairs to the rehearsal studio we’d just been in and … well, to write about it properly would take the rest of the night. I made notes though, and seemed to remember much from the last time, three years ago, and seemed also to be able to put it to use this time.

Many questions, some dizziness (and some tips from Anna, who is almost as tall as me for breathing my way to avoiding it), some singing, humming, buzzing, much talking, joined by Bonnie around the halfway point, some really interesting discoveries (like I can sing very high notes I could never previously find my way to, even though I sensed it was just a matter of sorting out the thinking and it would work), strange, uncoordinated use of muscles and breath that were I walking would be the equivalent of forgetting how to and falling over, and three hours later we plunged back down the stairs and out. It’s days like this I’m unfathomably grateful I decided to be a dancer, for all the amazing things it’s brought me.

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The Last Week of Parsifal Rehearsals

Last night was the second of two full dress rehearsals. While waiting for the curtain call, we celebrated with third Act pizza in the dressing room. This rehearsal period, a mere two weeks actually in the theatre has passed almost too quickly to become philosophical about the whole working process; I have had the occasional thought though, and perhaps these will achieve bloghood in the coming days. In the meantime, skin and the rest is enjoying two days off from the wigs, white bodypaint, ropes, long days of warming up and preparing for the twenty-five-ish minutes we are actually on-stage. Andrew is here, Anna is here, a couple of others round out the original cast; we have a new Klingsor who is a delight, Valentina and Gianni as stage managers who are also a joy to work with, a great, friendly crew who live on some of the best coffee I have tasted, which at 70¢ a cup is also the cheapest, a new conductor who makes it his own, and altogether it’s not merely a remount and going through the steps. Some photos I was thinking of saving ’til we open, but I’ve seen other photos elsewhere, so, here is something of the last few days.