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Sabbatical, 2004
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Going To The Opera!

(An instalment in the Diary of an Inheritance series,
...being Part 2 of the 2004 segment.)

July 31, 2004

Heather and I were in the car, setting out on the five hour journey from our cottage to Toronto. By evening, Rachael would be performing in an opera – playing the role of Donna Elvira in Mozart’s Don Giovanni.  We were pretty excited, because this was the first time she would be singing with a complete orchestra (as opposed to piano accompaniment).

As we came down from the hills, I turned on my cellphone (no point trying to use cellphones at the lake – there is no signal).  Immediately it beeped – there was a message waiting.  It turned out to be a Winnipeg friend of mine, 1 who, unaware that we were away, wanted us to come over for a barbecue.  “My wife’s in Toronto,” said his recorded voice, “I’m on my own, and thought it would be nice to spend an evening with you guys.”

I called him right away.  He answered in person, and I took some delight in saying, “Heather and I can’t come over because we are in Québec!”

Once he had recovered from that bit of information, we chatted for a bit, and I asked, “What’s Mary doing in Toronto anyway?”

“Visiting her Mother.  She’s been down there for a week, the old lady’s not been very well.”

“Is there a phone number where she can be reached?”

He gave it, and after we had made some plans to get together on our return to Winnipeg, we disconnected.

Heather and I looked at each other.  “Let’s invite Mary to the opera!”

Which we did, and – after she had recovered from the unexpected invitation and its unexpected source – with much delight she agreed to come!

The journey went flawlessly.  We went to Toronto, showered off a week of cottage grime at our daughter’s, got back in the car, and went to find Mary.  We pulled up to her mother’s residence at precisely the right time, and soon all three of us were sitting in a Hamilton auditorium.  Troy and Calyn and Sheryl and Kevin and my ex-wife were also there, sitting in the same row, but that’s another story.  The lights went down, and maestro Boris Brott came out to begin the overture.

Us, with Rachael and Jason in costume
Donna Elvira & Family
L – R: Kevin, Rachael, Heather, Jason Nedecky
(who played Don Giovanni), Tony
There is nothing in the world like seeing your grown child setting out on her chosen career and doing so with verve and some success.  When Rachael – Donna Elvira – appeared on stage there was a lump in my throat just to see her.  Then she sang, and when the pure clear notes floated out over the orchestral accompaniment, I knew that she just might actually make a real career in opera.  Her sound was true, but with sufficient power to be easily heard, even though a crowd of people were working away on their musical instruments right beside her.  She was poised and confident, handling pathos and comic moments with equal ease!  Heather and I were very, very proud parents.

And imagine Rachael’s surprise and pleasure to find not only her parents greeting her at the stage door, and many other family members, but also Mary, our good Winnipeg friend, who she has known all her life!

An additional Winnipeg connection, by the way, was the young man in the title role.  Don Giovanni was played by Jason Nedecky, who grew up in our neighbourhood and entered the Winnipeg music scene at the same time Rachael did.  Along with our daughter, this gifted performer shows what a deep reservoir of talent Winnipeg has available for the world to enjoy.

We spent the night at Ariel’s, and the next morning went to church at St. Thomas’, Toronto.  Even in the Summer, this is a parish which has a full choir, and makes no compromises in the liturgy.  It was, for me, a deeply satisfying morning of worship.

Then (Sunday shopping!) Heather and I got a week’s supply of groceries and were soon back on the highway, making the five-hour return journey to the lake.

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1  Regular readers of this blog may be interested to know that this friend is Werner Schulz.  He and his wife Mary are the people with whom we made an unforgettable Caribbean cruise in January 2011.
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