In the Pit

When I was in college, I played trumpet – a lot.  Part of being a music major meant performing in various groups.  My last two years at the University of Washington, my role could be best described as ‘Rover’.  Because I had a decent amount of skill and could sight read (thank you Darrell), I was often dropped into performances for one or two rehearsals and then perform.


I did a lot of opera, ballet and musicals.  I’ve been to hundreds of them but I’ve never seen a performance.  The view from the orchestra pit is…limited.  You are in a cave under the stage.  If you are lucky then you can see the balcony seats. 


My experience with ballet is the rhythmic thuds on the ceiling, roughly in time with the music (synchronization is interesting when all you play is being bounced off a wall before the stage gets it).  I’m sure ballet is beautiful but I’ve only seen it on television.


Operas are another matter.  Unless you are playing Wagner (reprehensible politics – good music) then the brass does not always have a lot to do.  Usually, we get some fanfare type music at the beginning (sometimes really fun stuff) then three hours of waiting.  More often than not, the entire brass section would leave (studying, bars, whatever) and then return two to three hours later with time to spare.


I’ve also never seen an opera.   I wonder if the typical opera composer was attacked by a  berserk brass section.  As a rule, they don’t like us.


Not sure I like them either.