I realized that I might want to talk about music in this little Italian blog of mine since that was the driving force behind me moving here.
Exactly one week after I arrived back in Lucca, I had my first Italian audition. I am so blessed with having an amazing support system here, which includes, Marco. He was one of our accompanists for “Canta in Italia” this past June and on top of being one of the funniest people I know, he is a superb piano player and a phenomenal coach. For singers, finding a good accompanist is like finding a treasure chest filled with gold. You feel such security and ease as they play alongside you and can in a sense read your mind. That unspoken communication is something Marco absolutely excels in. So I was ecstatic when he offered to help me before my audition with a coaching at his home.
It was a very new and very exciting experience to have a vocal coaching in Italian. Marco had sent me a list of vocal terms the week before for me to translate so I would know what he was talking about as he quickly threw advice on technique at me while I was singing. We worked for over an hour and I was feeling really great about what we had accomplished and the new methods I was trying per his suggestion.
That next Monday was my audition at the Teatro Goldoni in Livorno. I got to the theatre, signed in, was taken to a room to warm up (see “Parola del Giorno” for how I asked about this…), and then to my utter delight found out that I got to work with my accompanist before the audition! This is how all auditions should be! Brilliant! Right before I began, Marco arrived (there for moral support, what a champ) and listened to my session with Angela, my accompanist for the audition.
And then…we waited. This is always the worst part. And somehow, impossibly, I was not nervous. Those who know him from school know that when I’m not nervous I become nervous that I’m not nervous. Thus making me nervous.
That made sense, right?
I actually had a really good time at the audition (WHAT?!). I walked up onto the stage and just being back on a stage was so exciting that I got lost in happiness. There were maybe 12 men in the audience passing around my information and all were very attentive and friendly. I sang Menotti’s “The Black Swan” from “The Medium” (This song is never going to leave me alone). Afterwards I was asked a few questions, one of them being, “Di dove sei? (where are you from?)” to which I answered, “Sono di gli stati uniti…ovviamente con il mio accento terribile (I am from the United States…obviously, with my terrible accent)”. To which they laughed and continued with a few more questions. They were incredibly nice and I had a nice experience at my first audition here.
A few days later, I found out that I had not been accepted into the program and it was fine! I got wonderfully kind messages of encouragement from friends here and back home. Having done musical theatre for almost five years before switching to classical music, I have developed a very tough skin. And rejection in this career is more common than not so you give yourself five or ten minutes to be sad and then it is on to the next venture! And you look at the positives. For me, I was really happy that I had a good experience and hopefully made some new networking contacts, this also now allows me to take language classes which is really important to me, I have more time to travel and see all of Italy which was another huge reason I wanted to move back, and I can have a steady voice lesson schedule while I look for other programs.
I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. This could lead into a whole new post, but the things in my past that seemed bad at the time, whether it be related to music, family, love, school, etc, have all led to me to where I am at this moment. And I am in Italy. So….there is not much to be upset about.
This leads me to my next journey. One that is daunting after graduating having had an absolutely marvelous voice teacher. I needed to find someone close to me here (and preferably American) who taught voice. Amazingly and luckily for me, this ended up being incredibly easy.
Our group who was here in June was introduced to an extraordinary woman named Deborah, who decided to move here or rather stay here after coming for an opera program. She and I literally bumped into each other on the street in Lucca a few weeks ago right before she moved to Florence. Fate? Perhaps. Very convenient? Absolutely. After learning that she has taught voice in grad schools and privately I could not wait to have a lesson with her! We set a time and I hopped on the train to Florence this past week.
This is only my second time going to Florence and it was no less brilliant than the first. I had some free time before my lesson and immediately wanted to go see Brunelleschi’s Duomo. The first time I was in Florence I kept crying because every turn was so overwhelming and I wanted to see everything in one day. The Duomo hit me the hardest. I have admired this miraculous architectural feat ever since high school when I began studying art history. Seeing it in person was surreal even this second time. It is suddenly right in front of you, or really, above you and you just sort of stand there in awe because there is no other emotion you can muster to understand how this was constructed when it was. It is beautiful. I lingered near it, beneath it for a while trying to wrap my mind around its majesty. Eventually I realized I needed to head over to Deborah’s!
We had a really wonderful time. It is reassuring to say the least to meet another American who has moved here and made it work. Deborah is so lovely and open to talking about her experiences here. We got around to the voice lesson even though I could have talked to her all day long. I love working with her. Again, it is nerve wracking shopping around for a voice teacher you like and this turned out to be a one-stop excursion. Thank goodness. I am really looking forward to working with her and going back to the basics- building and molding the instrument I have.
We said “a presto” and I headed back into the heart of the city. There was something I needed to see…or in this case, stand on…
I have been watching “The Borgias” a series about…guess…Yes! The Borgias! It is really neat to watch it while I am in the middle of where it took place. The season two finale culminates in the death of Savonarola, the monk who famously ordered all of Florence to burn their material items in the “Bonfire of the Vanities” in 1497. A few months later, the monk faced his own end ironically in the same manor when he was hung over a giant bonfire. There is a plaque in the spot where he died outside of the Palazzo Vecchio. Having watched that episode just the night before, it was amazing to stand in that very spot. My feet gingerly stepped onto the metal as if it was still hot from the fire hundreds of years ago. Savonarola, you bastard. To think that there are paintings by Botticelli that were forced to be tossed into the flames is infuriating. There were relics and works of art that we will never know because of this man. Selfish.
Although I was quietly cursing his name, standing right on top of such immense history pulled my mind away from my distain and back to utter contentment. I was in a city filled with history in every brick, cobblestone, and H&M (KIDDING). So I continued to wander through the streets for a few hours, across the bridges and back again until it got dark and my feet found their way to the train station.
I am so happy to have an excuse to come to Florence once a week. My voice lessons with Deborah and then I get to explore this city a little more every time.