A little while ago Julia Pevzner directed OperaBoston’s production of “Maria Padilla” by Donizetti. She’s a wonderful director, very Russian, lives now in Tel Aviv, flown in for her anything-goes attitude and unflappable competence (We met and decidedly liked each other during her astonishing direction of Shostikovich’s “The Nose”; one of the eeriest and funniest things I’ve ever seen; also beautiful). She called, said, “I’ve two tickets to dress rehearsal waiting for you at the door. Come draw.” I got there late and missed the first act. My wife (who’d been on time) leaned over during the second and whispered, “the lead’s changed!” Turns out she’d become ill. I watched and listened to the understudy (good) but a slight air of unease floated about. In the third act, the understudy was also not feeling well but gamely went on …voiceless. Incredibly Gil Rose the Music Director would hum the lead’s part from the orchestra pit! I’m able to move anywhere in orchestra seating as it’s kept clear for finalizing technical details; I get a pretty good bead on the orchestra itself. They’re doing a wonderful job of not smiling too much at their boss as he does his valiant best falsetto to carry it all through. The audience is terrifically appreciative as they all know this was a tour de force, albeit of a different sort but one nonetheless. Sitting with Julia, I hear her say, leaning forward, chin on her hands and in her droll disaster-proof Russian accent, “Dat is the worse dress rehearsal I’ve ever seen.” (I rather liked it). Then she’s off, much to do before opening night and she’s undented. These are some of the sketches I could generate, sometimes sitting in the dark, sometimes I could actually see what I was doing.