I think the saying goes, “You never regret what you did do… only what you didn’t do.” Or something like that. Or maybe I am making that all up.
Yesterday was my last day in Argentina and it was a bit rainy, so we decided to sleep in a bit, then check out the Teatro Colón… the most opulent and historic theater in Buenos Aires. We signed up for the English tour and began our journey.
The theater is actually the second Teatro Colón… the first is on the Plaza Mayo where the National Banc now resides. This ‘newer’ theater took several architects to complete as each architect died at age 44 before the project was completed in 1908.
The architecture and decor represented Louis XIV style, with cherubs and Corinthian details in goldleaf throughout. Midway through the tour, the guide offered up the theater for any ‘singers’ out there. No one volunteered. He mentioned that Pavarotti said this theater was perfect- meaning you had to be perfect to perform there as the acoustics would pick up every tiny imperfection. Yes, P-Opera said this. Definitely intimidating.
As we continued the tour, I kind of sort of wished I had sung something. You have to understand… I am not really a singer. I like to sing for fun, in the shower, karaoke with some beers, around the campfire in singer-songwriter fashion. Soft-voiced stuff. No opera. But this theater was so quiet; so quiet that the silence filled your ears like cotton balls. I did everything I could to hold back, and not break the silence.
At the end of the tour, Joe and I opted to have a few glasses of wine. Then I realized… I wanted to sing in the Teatro. Just let out like one or two notes. I wanted to cut through that cottonball hush. If I didn’t do it- I would regret not singing in the Teatro.
Joe said it was unlike me to just ignore my gut… if I wanted to do something, I usually would figure it out. At first I thought, naw… then I thought, well, what do I have to lose? I would never see any of these people again, I am not some professional singer so there was no pressure, why not belt out a few shower tunes in front of a couple tour groups in the most perfectly acoustical building ever?
So we asked. We asked if I could go back in and sing something. They allowed us back in, but only if we joined another tour… this time, a spanish-speaking tour. So poor Joe schlepped with me through another 40 min tour of the Teatro. And when we reached the inside of the theater, the guide said, are you ready to sing?
Lemme get all the excuses out there… the wine wore off. I was nervous. I hadn’t sang in front of people for years… let alone show tunes. My voice was not properly warmed up. But the guide pointed to the front of the stage, and I saw the 30 or so people in the audience… and went to the front anyway. And I sang. I stared up at the balconies of the enormous room, feeling the air grow thicker and my voice weaker with every note. It seemed too cliché to sing an Evita song and I didn’t want to botch it so I went with an oldie. West Side Story. Lol.
Then I sang one stanza of the chorus of Tonight, from West Side Story. Joe thought I should have done a pop song, which in hindsight would’ve been way more entertaining- and it’s easier to think of that if you aren’t the one doing it. I mean, now when I think of it, there were a million options. Greatest Love of All. Bohemian Rhapsody. Any Rhianna song. Oh well. Instead, I chose Tonight. A song that I had wanted to sing on stage at my lil’ old high school but didn’t get the part…because… ready for it? I couldn’t sing.
So here I was, conquering my fear and looking up at the massive levels of boxes in the theater. The lights, the people. I forgot the words at first, then started again. I only sang a version of the chorus once.. and people clapped… mostly out of pity…lol, but I can say… I did it. No regrets. Joe said it would’ve taken someone paying him $10,000 to do it. I did it because I didn’t want any regrets.
And here’s the funniest part. I always regretted not getting the part of Maria in the school play. I nailed the dance and acting audition. But the singing- is where I failed. I didn’t even do the singing audition. Didn’t even try. And thought… If only I had prepared for the audition… singing lessons… knew the song, the words, I would’ve killed it and been Maria. I had regretted it.
This experience made me realize that I would’ve never gotten the part… I kinda suck and wouldn’t have gotten it. All of sudden, having no regrets at this juncture also released the regret I had of not getting the part… there was no reason to ever regret that… I struggled to sing four lines in the Teatro, how could I have done an entire musical in my school theater?
Yeah, so it was kind of embarrassing to do that. And to pick such a non-funny song… but I would’ve regretted not singing at all even more.
If you ever get chance to tour the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, volunteer to sing… it is a scary and crazy experience. Just be prepared with your song. I wasn’t but I still did it anyway… and I finally got to be Maria… even if it was only for a hot second.