Opera Apprenticeship Anecdotes: Erwin Schrott

It is storming like craaaaazy right now, and in my quest to keep myself occupied with things besides the probability of golf-ball sized hail and tornados I came across Tiny Doom’s “How I met Erwin Schrott” post – I highly recommend it.  It’s not only a great story, but it takes place in my beloved Dussmann das KulturKaufhaus!  The coolest book/media store with the coolest name.

My own (very brief) encounter is comparatively anti-climactic.

As I may or may not have mentioned, about 4 years ago I spent a season as an apprentice stage manager.  I’m going to vague about where, but a little light investigation will easily reveal where I was apprenticed, if you really want to know.  This story takes place quite early in my apprenticeship – within the first few weeks, I believe.

I was having lunch in the break room of the rehearsal studio with an ASM (assistant stage managers).  He was to be one of the ASMs on the first full productions I was assigned to, and had been an apprentice himself some years before.  He acted as a kind of mentor for me while I was at the opera, and I really appreciated his help and advice throughout the experience.

Anyway!  The subject had turned to the production of Don Giovanni that would be rehearsing concurrently with the production to which we were assigned (that is to say, we were not working on this Don Giovanni!).  The titular role was being performed by Erwin Schrott.  I was not particularly familiar with Schrott at the time, but the ASM had worked on a previous production of Don Giovanni with Erwin Schrott (when he was an apprentice, I believe), and he was a big fan.  Based on what the ASM told me it sounded like this was going to be a pretty compelling Don Giovanni.  (The production ended up being sort of diffuse and and uninteresting, but Erwin Schrott did not disappoint – given Schrott’s physique and natural charisma, it’s no surprise that Don Giovanni is something of a signature role…)

We had hit a lull in the conversation when a man walked in looking for coffee, with his suitcase in tow.  He had carefully tousled hair and there was something almost costume-y about the way he dressed… like he’d just walked in from modeling for a fashion shoot.  That’s not to say he was over-styled or dressed inappropriately, just that I’ve never seen anyone dress like that or look like that on the street, let alone in rehearsal hall kitchenette.  The only coffee in the studio came from a horrible machine that worked by sticking little vacuum-sealed bags of coffee, with plastic knobs on one end, into a compartment (knob-side down) and pressing a button to make it go.  There were about six different kinds – French Roast, Italian, espresso, etc. – and all of them were weak, if not undrinkable.  It was with some reluctance that I pointed the gentleman to this sad “coffee” machine, and the ASM made a flavor recommendation.  The man made his coffee and departed.

I asked the ASM if that was our Don Giovanni, and he quickly said no, that was not him.  If it had been Erwin Schrott, the ASM assured me, he would have been beside himself and rendered speechless from shock and awe. Very well, then.

Not two minutes later, a lady from Artists’ Services walked in and asked if Erwin had come through.  I said that a man had come in to make coffee a few moments before – tall, important-looking, with a suitcase; to which she responded, “Yep, that’s him,” and walked off.  I turned back to the horrified ASM as he buried his face in his hands and said, “Oh my god!

And that was the first time I ever saw Erwin Schrott.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s