Friday, July 01, 2005


When I first arrived in Santa Fe, I mentally planned a post about the various hazards one has to deal with here. Most notably the altitude and requisite adjustment period, but also bugs, extremely low humidity, and heat. It is this last hazard that made it presence truly known today, finally inspiring me to sit down and write this post.

A bit on the others, though, before the big story. I spent a few days in Boulder, CO – elevation 5400 feet – before arriving in Santa Fe, so I was fairly adjusted to the altitude change. I still huff and puff from time to time if I walk too fast, but I never got any headaches or other altitude ailments I was expecting. It is very dry here – currently 16% humidity – but that can be combatted by drinking lots of water and slathering on rich lotions. I’m wearing sunscreen every day, another thing to be extra aware of at 7000 feet, but I’m still managing to get a nice tan. I haven’t burned yet, and I plan to keep it that way! As for bugs, I’ve learned to give my towel a good shake before drying myself off. All it took was watching one spider crawl up over the towel rod as I reached for it after my shower to make me very cautious of creepy crawly things that might surprise me!

Today, however, the heat was the thing. We were two and a half hours into a three hour Peter Grimes staging rehearsal when I felt myself get very hot. I was wearing a tank top, and I could feel (and see) that my skin was all of a sudden covered with a light sheen of persperation. I felt a little weak, almost as if I was about to cry; I put my hands to my head and said, “Whoa, I feel a little dizzy.” I was about to joke with the guys standing behind me that if I fainted, they’d better catch me, when I realized that I really was about to faint!

I stepped away from the rehearsal stage and sat against the wall, trying to get my head to stop spinning. One of the prop assistants came over and asked if I was alright. Since I had misplaced my water bottle (what kind of a singer am I?!), he led me over to the water fountain just off the front of the stage. [Today we were in North Hall, sort of a shell, with no front wall and a back wall that can open to let in some sort of breeze (or small set pieces). There was not much breeze making it into the space today; hence the near fainting spell.] At the fountain I was met by SFO Technical Director Paul Horpedahl, who happened to be there observing the rehearsal. He wet a towel with cool water and placed it on my neck, which helped to cool me down. He also had a radio, so he called for Scott, the SFO Safety Monitor! It seems there is a small department here entirely devoted to safety issues, which, now that I think about it, makes sense, and I imagine most large companies have such a department. Theatre crew work can be hazardous, and then there are the special Santa Fe elements at play . . .

Obviously this sort of thing happens regularly here, because when Scott and Carl (the Safety Crew) arrived about five minutes later, they came bearing a Rubbermaid bin full of water bottles, Gatorade, electrolyte tablets, and ice. I was impressed! And clearheaded enough by this time to be a little embarrassed about causing a fuss… I had been moved to a cooler corner of the Hall, still outside but now a bit more visible to my colleagues. Not ideal, but I was grateful for the shade and hopeful that no one would think I was faking! Rupert, the stage manager for Grimes, had come to see me at the water fountain to ask about my schedule for the rest of the day. I had two more hours of rehearsal after the Grimes staging, but he went and arranged with the rehearsal office for me to be released. I would never have asked for that; rehearsal time is at a premium here! But when I got home (via a ride from Scott the Safety Monitor) half an hour later and was still too weak to pick up my dog, I knew it was best. I napped, and woke up feeling much better. I am disappointed to not be at the theatre watching tonight’s final dress rehearsal of The Barber of Seville, but I was “strongly encouraged” to go home and just rest tonight.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. A quiet dinner, some reading, some writing. Now I have a bit of time to study my scores for tomorrow’s rehearsals, then to bed. And opening night of Turandot tomorrow!

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