Every once in a while things go smoothly, almost as if by accident. Departure from Rome was mostly without incident. The city bus to train to airport connections went as planned.
At the airport, those of us who did not take the orchestra bus were told to meet the group at ‘Terminal 2’. Unfortunately, terminals at the Rome airport are named, ‘A’, ‘B’, ‘C’, and so on. The TV screen gave us the information our charter flight would leave from terminal ‘A’, with check-in at counter 173. A quick jog through terminal ‘A’ revealed that the counters ended at 172, which posed something of a problem until it was discovered that there was also a terminal ‘AA’; that is where we found the orchestra.
The rest of the day went off as per schedule. The flight from Rome to Dusseldorf and then the bus to Essen were on time.
While sitting in the bus that would take us to the plane a number of us spotted a stray piece of baggage abandoned on the tarmac in Rome – a forlorn looking cardboard box that had fallen off a baggage truck. We all shared a few chuckles as various trucks, buses, and other of the odd sort of vehicles that whiz around airports all passed the box without anyone stopping to pick it up. A few drivers slowed to give it a second glance but there were no takers.
Unknown to us, one of my colleagues sharing in the amusement had a bag winging its way to Sicily instead of Essen at that very moment, probably to share the fate of the little box in Rome, lying unclaimed on a sun-drenched runway in Palermo. Talk about Karma. The bag was still missing last time I checked with him.
Essen is a modern industrial city without a whole lot of charm. There isn’t much to do there, not that we had time anyway, but the weather was so nice it was hard to hate the place.
The Philharmonie Essen is a modern concert hall of the shoebox variety with a bright, clear sound that tended towards becoming harsh. The concert had something of a ‘going through the motions’ feel about it and the German audience showed markedly less enthusiasm for the Muti/CSO juggernaut than the Italians.