When you're touring in an opera production and NOT playing one of the major roles, you get to sing every show, and that includes matinees. Twice a week, you have a day when you perform the entire opera twice, usually with different principals singing in the afternoon and the evening.
And inevitably there comes a point in the second performance where you get to a place where one principal does something totally different from another, and think 'Have we done this bit yet?!' It can be quite disconcerting…
Luckily, this actually hasn't ever happened on a two funeral day, simply because services are so different. The 'cast' has changed; different family, different vicar, different organist. So has the 'libretto'; different live stories, different tributes, different readings. Even the 'score' has changed: different music choices for hymns, songs, entry and exit music. So there never is really a chance of deja vu creeping in to knock your concentration, and with a gap in between you can both relax and prepare for the next without that terrible opera matinee; do I take the wig/dress and makeup off and then have all the hassle of putting it all back on again?!
Instead, in between 'performances', I sat in the Hampshire sunshine, watching the sunlight glint on the waves in Portsmouth Harbour from my vantage point on a bench in the crematorium grounds. It was very peaceful, very calm and reminded me that singing at a funeral is a very worthwhile and fulfilling role in itself.
Unlike some matinee performances I've sung with an theatre full of those most demanding of critics, the retired. Never shall I forget my grand entrance in a flowing overdress to a loud whisper from the middle row of "Eeeeh, what does she look like in them their curtains…"
Give me funerals anytime!