In an Alternate Universe Tonight…

In an alternate universe tonight, I am onstage singing a concert of Mozart arias with the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra at the Tanglewood Music Festival in Massachusetts. My whole family: husband, kids, in-laws, parents, sister, cousins, nieces, and nephews are there in the audience, the smallest ones having a picnic on the lawn instead of being stuck inside, sitting in the hall. Every time I get to sing in the US, I am ecstatic. That’s not even an exaggeration. I guess we all want to make good in the places we come from, in front of our first families and friends.

In real life, of course, there is no alternate universe. As they say to the little ones, “You get what you get, and you don’t get upset!” I don’t know anyone who never gets upset, but maybe the point is to make our peace and move on rather than throw ourselves down on the ground and sob that this is just not how we saw things going.

In real life tonight, I am not in Tanglewood full of adrenaline, nervously double-checking that all of my arias are perfectly memorized, elated to finally sing at this festival I’ve been hearing about since my childhood. Indeed, I am in Berlin, not having sung a live performance in over four months. Although I miss the stage and audience in my blood and bones, in the spirit of “You get what you get,” I also feel lucky to be able to use these months to work on my voice and to study repertoire, to listen to masterclasses and learn from the greats, and to become a fan again of music I’ve not listened to in years. Yes, I am missing my family and friends in America terribly, missing watching my kids play with their cousins all summer and feeling easier in my own skin, but still, I am grateful for the instant online connections that allow us to visit virtually every day. I miss singing and making music with incredible artists, but I am grateful not to have to leave my kids for a single night, let alone for many days at a time right now. I am most thankful for this unexpected chance to be with my husband and daughters constantly, day in and day out, consistently there for all of the little moments as well as the larger ones. Even if there are some days when we might like to wring each others’ necks, I hope that these together times (and even these too together times) are what we’ll look back on one day and remember most of all.

17 thoughts on “In an Alternate Universe Tonight…

  1. Beautifully expressed. I can very much relate to balancing all the what-were-supposed-to-have-beens with trying to appreciate all that is… Not an easy feat!!

  2. Beautifully written. Your family misses seeing you perform in America as well! This too shall pass and when it does, your magical voice will bring happiness to many!

      1. Robin, thank you for sharing! Yes, we miss you desperately this summer and were so looking forward to seeing you sing, in our home state no less! But your sentiments of family togetherness are spot on…I think about the moments I am able to get with the family working from home that I didn’t have for many years going into work. I too am most thankful about that. We will soldier on and look forward to what next year brings! Xoxo

  3. Robin, You are a marvelous writer and your sentiments in this essay are so right. Our families are so very much of what makes life living. Love, Peter


  4. This pandemic will end enabling you to perform again and as you indicate spending all this time now with your family can create positive and enduring memories for the future.

  5. Robin.
    Congrats on your recent CD nomination…and lovely alternate universe musings…they are the stuff that dreams are made of….I hope the come true for you..after all this Covid mess across the world…Cheers to a better time and place

  6. It’s touching to read Your Alternate Universe. We miss you very much and look forward, hopefully in the near future, when we’re all together again you’re able to sing in person.

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