I have a tendency not to get too worked-up about things, good or bad, until they actually occur. Probably a product of laziness, of age, and living in Italy — but when you combine the them all, staying “in the moment” becomes a way of life, as opposed to something you must be continually be conscious of. So, when I went for the first time to practice my solos for the upcoming performance of the Pergolesi Stabat Mater, I wasn’t prepared for the flood of emotion that practically kept me from taking a breath, much less producing a acceptable tone.
Ten years after my first visit to Italy, to Venice, I’m living here, taking lezioni di canto from an exceptionally delightful and talented maestra, and singing Vidit Sum in the Chiesa di Santa Maria Formosa. Pinch me now, or just let me keep on dreamin’…
I keep a list of things that are more reasonable, cost-wise, in Italy: wine, a haircut, someone who’ll clean your apartment and make alterations or sew; and certainly, voice lessons. These are the icing on the cake, as I love to sing, and it gives me so much pleasure to try to improve; then to have found such a gifted instructor who’s not only a talented mezzo soprano in her own right, but who has been able, even at my age, to help me improve my voice quality, production and interpretation skills immensely. A very patient soul is she!
The performance itself was the Sunday before Easter. We were all disillusioned to learn that Sara (the maestra) was ill with a fever and couldn’t attend. Just the same, from her sick bed she sent a text message to my phone (a way of life here, by the way) that said: Ricordati ad aprire la bocca. Sei quasi perfetta. Mi raccomando, fate una bella figura! “Remember to open your mouth, you’re almost perfect,” and then, roughly translated, “I’m ordering you, Make a good impression!”
I took no offense, because I knew what she meant; I am scattered and unpredictable. But what settles me in the end is the piece, the play, the text, the music, what’s inside it, what must be transmitted; prepare, dive in, stay there, serve it, absorb the joy, the privilege; che serà serà.
It was. The attendance was good, too. There was a choir, all women, with five female soloists and a small organ accompaniment. Sara’s Mamma was there (she’s an accomplished artist), and she congratulated us all after the performance, then went home to report to Sara, who sent me another text message that read “I think you can be proud of what you did. Talk to you soon!”
I slept very well that evening, and the next day, Sara must have been feeling better, as her early a.m. text message read: “Start learning the Rossini Quis est homo duetto, and make copies for Davide and la Valentina for when you get together.”
Hm…had my heart set on Dove sono i bei momenti, but I could be getting ahead of myself…you think?
p.s. If you speak Italian, and are looking for a bravissima maestra — her maestro here in Venice is Sherman Lowe, by the way — or, even if you looking for the Next Big Opera Thing for your upcoming production, drop Sara Bardino a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, or see their web site at Offerta Musicale.