Today was the choir’s first full day in Tallinn, and that gave them more time to explore the hotel, the town, the food, and whatever else they could find. The day began with the “incredible breakfast” that their tour manager, Stacey Christensen, had told them to expect. Judging by the number of breakfast photos sent to me, everyone was very impressed with it. It included cheeses, several varieties of bread, pastries, dairy (drinkable yogurt), and many kinds of fish including salmon and herring. Tallinn is on the Baltic Sea, after all.
Replete with food, Singers bused to the LDS Chapel for a 2½ hour rehearsal. They hadn’t sung together for about two weeks due to finals, and they were very happy to be together again as a choir. Dr. Crane and his wife will be arriving tomorrow; in his absence CJ Madsen, one of the graduate assistants, ran the rehearsal to prepare the choir to sing in church tomorrow, along with the Devotional Performance in the evening. The chapel was beautiful, and still smelled of new wood. There are not very many members of the LDS Church in Estonia; the choir is excited to sing for and meet these pioneers.
After the rehearsal, the choir went to Old Tallinn, where they found shops, restaurants, churches, cathedrals, and many points of history. Some went to the KGB museum, which detailed Estonian life when the country was part of the USSR, 1940-1991. Freedom is very important to Estonians, and their flag represents that value. The national flag of Estonia is a tricolor featuring three equal horizontal bands of blue, black, and white. Blue represents faith, loyalty, and devotion; white is striving toward enlightenment and virtue of the future; black memorializes the tragic past of the country. Many choir members walked past the Russian embassy and saw the memorials and protests laid in front; it is not difficult to know how Estonians feel about Ukraine.
Though shopping and exploring were the main goals of the afternoon, somehow quite a few food adventures also happened. I hear McDonald’s was visited by some, and others found “pancakes” which were thick crepes both sweet and savory. They were described as “delightful and decadent.”
The choir met up at the Estonian National Opera House; completed in 1913, the art nouveau/classicist Estonia theatre and opera house was the largest building of its kind in Tallinn at the time. One of its two wings was designed as a theatre, and the other as a concert hall. The opera house was bombed by Soviet air raids on 9 March 1944. (Due to the increase of German activity in Tallinn, the Soviet air force began targeting the city for bombings in an effort to debilitate Germany.) It was reopened after the war in 1947. The ceiling was painted by Estonian artists in tempera in the style of Socialist Realism. There are Russian touches throughout the building. The choir toured the theater wing, seeing the stage and orchestra pit set up for the evening’s performance of “My Fair Lady,” and also the scene and costume shops. It is a smaller house, which gives an intimate feeling to their ballet, opera, and theater productions.
Though the show was in Russian, there were English supertitles that those who could stay awake enjoyed. They are all still quite tired, and working to adjust to the 8-hour time change. But that will improve every day, and performances will revitalize them. All are looking forward to tomorrow!