I'm grateful to be back in Paris. (And grateful that I can actually say to "BE BACK" here, because to even get ONE shot at this amazing city is a gift in itself!) As I struggled to keep my bleary, blood-shot eyes open on my taxi ride from the airport (not, sadly, from the gourmet dinner and wine - but from no sleep thanks to having just done a gala concert in Montreal hours earlier - but more on that at some other point in time...), I was really overcome with memories and a strange sense of perspective.
I haven't done the math, but I've probably sung more performances in this city than any other (not counting studio performances in Houston) and that means a lot of memories, and a lot of time under the bridge - I guess, in this case, that would mean down the Seine. About 9 years ago, it was the first city at the end of a 13-city audition tour to actually give me a contract, and has felt like my European home ever since. But when that tour happened, I was in a very different place in my life, and over these swiftly flying years, I have experienced much, grieved much, celebrated much and learned so very much. I'm not one to live too much in the past (not at all, if I can help it!), but it is fascinating to me to be given the chance to take stock of things, so to speak, and to have the chance to feel the growth around you. Paris is that for me - and I pinch myself that I can actually say that. I mean, PARIS!!!
The other thing that boggles my mind is that when I first worked here (Barbiere in 2002, if anyone is keeping track), I knew not a soul here, and felt like a complete outsider in the customs, the food, the language, the atmosphere - in every single way imaginable. I literally stepped outside of my apartment door upon arrival, bleary eyes and all, and ran into a friend of mine on the street. I went to eat at a cafe near the opera, and as I walked in the door the owner gave me a hug saying "welcome back!" Again, I had to pinch myself. I may still feel like the obvious American girl here, but I can tell I'm MUCH more French because now? I couldn't care less what anyone may think of me!!! I've learned very well here!!!