Happy in East Frisia




I arrived quite early in Leer. It is only 130 km from where I live, but I never had been there and wanted to have a look around. The weather thwarted my plans. It was raining most of the day. So I spent the afternoon with some useless tries to better up my appearance. The only open restaurant close to the hotel was a Greek restaurant. Thinking of the garlic the food may contain (Carreras sure likes to eat garlic, but does he like to smell it?) I avoided to eat there and got kind of a sandwich in the nearby bistro for my pre-concert dinner.


The taxi driver who drove me to the Emsaula needed some time to remember who Carreras was, but then he even remembered his first name. He got a nice tip. Well, he and me (the blonde) and the tenor are the living examples that all East Frisian-, blonde- and tenor-jokes are wrong. We are not dumb!


I had a backstage appointment with Mr. Carreras and I had been told to contact a lady from the German foundation half an hour before the recital. Because it was too early I stopped for a while in the tent in front of the hall. Hiding my excitement behind some cigarettes, the bar was not yet open, I watched the audience arriving. Everyone was in joyful anticipation, but I was sure not as much as me.


Finally I entered the hall and learned that I would meet Mr. Carreras after the recital. It was still quite early and I walked around in the foyer carefully avoiding the TV reporters who were running around interviewing the audience. I could see next day on NDR that I had been successful in hiding myself. A woman selling program books asked me if I wanted to sell CDs and told me that they had been already asked for CDs. I didn't wonder about her question, my gift bag was not completely opaque and I was also carrying a bag with some raw material one of his true fans had given to me while I was waiting in the tent. Pressing the gift bag nearer to me, I told her that these CDs were a gift for Mr Carreras. She must have thought me gaga, CDs for a tenor, as if he doesn't have enough himself. During the past 4 years I have developed some talents in restoring live recordings. 3 years ago I started to share the collected, restored and remastered treasures from Mr Carreras glorious past with him. He appreciates it a lot. He made his statement about private recordings (like me he avoids to call them pirates) in several interviews he has given during his career.


When he appeared on stage the audience welcomed him with a big and warm applause. He looked very well rested, was in good mood and his singing was like the newspaper reviews described it. The program contained a few changes and I tried to write them into my program book. However after the 3rd song I got lost in his singing. The pen, which I missed badly later the evening, got lost, too.


After the recital I was waiting for the lady from the foundation at the point she had told me to wait. Some other peoples including the TV reporters, who had already interviewed him earlier the evening, thought that they could see him, too. However the only person, who was guided backstage, was I, more flowing than walking. I talked a while with his bodyguard Mr Mertens, especially about the printed version of Elisabeth's timeline, and listened to Mr. Bavaj, who had changed his musical production from playing piano to humming a song.


It is an indescribable feeling to be left alone with him in his dressing room, a feeling of friendship and confidence. I enjoyed it and handed over the timeline book and my CDs. We talked a while about the recordings. He assured me how much he loves them, though it wasn't necessary. I know that they are just as precious to him as to me, precious memories for him and precious replacements for me, who missed to attend these performances. Though he is my favourite tenor since more than 20 years, I saw him for the first time live in 1994.


I took some photos of the happy tenor and he fortunately had a pen to give some autographs. I kissed him goodbye (stubbles, 3-days-beard :-)) and left him. He was waving when he left to the other direction, his broad-brimmed hat made him look like a Spanish Grandee, and that's what he is, el gran señor Carreras!


Back in the tent in front of the hall I tried to get back to normal with a glass of red wine. I walked (flew) the way back to the hotel. It had stopped raining and the stars were shining. I had a stop at the Greek restaurant, which was still open and had a great after concert dinner with lots of Weight Watchers points and garlic.


© Marion Tung