We flew out of foggy Finland. Yesterday’s sunny weather had disappeared. One hour later we were in Vilnius, Lithuania.

The evenings’ gala concert opening the opera season was to be attended by the President of the State and her ministers at the Opera House. Lithuanian Mezzo Soprano Violetta Urmana was the star of the evening and the orchestra needed an hour of rehearsal for the three arias.

The instruments had left the night before but had to go by ferry, cross to Estonia, than drive south to Vilnius. Even with police escort it was a close call! Anxious minutes ticked by as we waited at the hall for the truck to arrive. With an impatient Zubin fidgeted between the truck, the backstage and the podium, stagehands finally began delivering the instrument boxes; often from the truck to the stage at a dead run. With only 25 minutes to concert time, we started rehearsing.

The three arias, from Samson and Delilah, Il Trovatore and Don Carlos were a huge success; the mezzo enjoying her glory and Zubin at his best. No one would have guessed the stressful moments that had passed.