One of my enduring memories of performing in ‘Oliver!’ last summer was the heat. When I think about my costume for ‘Consider Yourself’ (two layers of 100% pure wool, cheers JC) I think about how the heat from the stage lights made my entire body feel like it was on fire. I remember having to cut eight inches off my poor, fried hair after spending three weeks coating it in flammable hairspray, pinning it to my head and putting a wig and hat on top. By the final performance it was the texture of straw.
I have played a great many orchestral concerts in hot weather, including in Germany and New York at the height of summer. Rosin tends to get too sticky to use and you have to re-tune your instrument far more frequently than usual because everything expands and the strings slip. Since retiring from orchestral performance, my instrument is of course myself, and I’ve been thinking about how to look after it in the summer months.
Drinking plenty of water is obviously the most vital thing to protect your voice from drying out in hot weather. I suffer from seasonal allergies (aka year-round drippy nose fun) which mean that from April to September I take a daily antihistamine, which is a drug notorious for drying our your inner nasal and vocal folds. This means I also get to use Sterimar and a thing called NeilMed saline douche (?!) which was first given to me by a very lovely nurse in New York, because I couldn’t breathe through my nose in my first few weeks at camp.
Today is the hottest day of 2017 so far. Stepping outside into the garden at around 4pm felt like walking into a pizza oven. It’s now 10pm and still 26c/78f. TOO HOT.