A knight on the rim is grim
I’ve been playing chess ever since I was a kid: my father, who is an excellent chess player, taught me and I played chess at high school, too.
One of the strangest memories I have from when I was young is of the day I defeated my dad at chess. It was so strange, for a split second it felt like I was Kasparov! Yet somehow at the same time it also seemed so wrong — me, defeating MY DAD! That couldn’t be! Shurely, Shir, there musht be shome mishtake! — that I felt pretty bad afterwards. It was too soon, it was too easy, it was like growing up all of a sudden. I’ve never really got my head around that episode, all I know that’s been the first and eventually the last time I managed to defeat my father at chess, and he must’ve been practicing a lot after that day, because he’s never let me win another game ever again! :-)
And now I’m facing yet another “first time” (hopefully not the last, though!): I’m debuting the role of Conte Almaviva tonight, at Wiener Staatsoper, and I’m very excited about this production. I can spot quite a few similitudes between that time I won at chess against my dad and every time I debut a new role: you feel the excitement, yet you’re worried too; you savour the moment you’ll finally succeed, yet when you do the moment is too short you almost don’t even realise it’s there, and when you eventually realise that… it’s already in the past. And that’s where you start thinking about all you’ve done to get there, and realise it’s not the moment itself that’s worth living, but the path you go through to get there, as every little step you take to get there is worth, too. This is the point where you realise that even if you’ve reached that goal, it is not “the” goal, it is not the only goal in your life, but just “a” goal, because there are a million other things you can still do, improving every day one step at a time.
I was happy when Jean-Louis Martinoty came up with the idea of playing chess on stage here in Vienna. In the video you can see Peter explaining to us what to do: during the recitative in the third act of Le nozze di Figaro, the Count is playing with Basilio — “un uom che salta dal balcone in giardino”, and the black knight moves forward, then “un altro appresso che dice esser quel desso”, so the white knight moves and… I’m not going to tell you! :-)