The First Sights, Smells, and Music of Italy

sanmarino Hello all, The program has been such a fantastic learning experience thus far.  I really feel as though I am at the right place at the right time. There are absolutely gorgeous hills around Novafeltria that are just a dream to see while walking to the theater and looking forty five degrees upwards.  The people of Italy have been so kind to me.  It has been wonderful to learn simple Italian phrases and connect to people.  I was lucky to see San Leo and San Marino.  San Leo has a castle upon a steep hill.  I happened to visit there during a mushroom festival.  There was a mariachi meets rock band playing in the town's square.  I watched a small child with a blonde tuft of curly hair sway to the music.  At first he was shy but his body was slowly taken adrift by the music.  It is amazing to watch the freedom of a child. The walk from my apartment to the theater is three blocks. The theater is beautiful to sing in acoustically.  I have been told that the theater is the size that Mozart originally intended his operas to be performed in.  It has been a dream to work with a professional level stage director and conductor. The Countess has been an educational role to sink into. The Countess is often portrayed with a one dimensional sadness throughout the production.  With the help of my director, I am learning to play many different sides of the Countess character to make her more believable to the audience and to create the compassion from the audience that she deserves. The music of Mozart gives me chills. It is so fulfilling to learn to create Mozartian lines and to hear the subtle nuances that fit perfectly within the characterization in ensemble numbers. There can be a group of characters that are singing tranquil ensemble lines contrasting with another group of characters that are singing more forceful betrayal filled lines.  Each discovery in my education here is like finding a diamond.  Gestures and physical movements are more treats to find intertwined in the piece. As far as I can tell, San Marino is one of the most beautiful places on earth. After quite a mechanical climb via car twisting through the mountains, the relief of stepping out of the car (perhaps with a tumbling stomach) is amazing. I sank into the view. The feeling was similar to when I was a child and I saw Disney World for the first time. There is a sort of stupor of amazement that happens. There was a hotel right away down the main road of the town square that had a direct view to the valley below. I stopped there to have a meal. It was heavenly. I talked to my waiter and got to know him. He had lived his entire life in San Marino. I told him I was an opera singer, and we talked about how important music education is. He said that he had a wonderful music teacher who taught him guitar when he was eight years old, and sub-sequentially played for five years. He thinks that the passion for music is something so important for the development of a person. The food was wonderful. He said that the view has never gotten old for him. I stood up and got out of my chair at the table and looked out the window to watch the sun set. It felt a little gauche for the setting, but I didn't care because I was trying to teach myself to live in the moment. My view of the sunset on the distant and rolling hills was framed by a church tower ringing bells out. I wanted to transform into a bird and fly out of the window swooping down with no effort through the wind currents. When I was coming down the mountain side in the car I looked down at what seemed to be a field of stars. The food in Italy is so fresh. I haven’t tasted anything that has the fake feeling of many American restaurants. The artificial stench is present in so much American food, and I can feel my body rejoicing as it goes away. One of the first places I stopped for food was a gas station. I had an espresso doppio (double shot of espresso) and a prosciutto panini. The food at that gas station was better than what most American cafés serve.  (plug for the Spring Green General Store here--a cafe in America that is wonderful with a recently updated website!) I have officially been converted to espresso. There are espresso machines everywhere and almost every peerson taking orders at these counters I have encountered seems to be a barista. I had always wondered in America why fast food couldn’t also be fresh food. In Italy have I found the answer. There is a slower pace of life in Novafeltria. There are still separate shops for fresh fruit, cosmetics, shoes, bread, fish, meat, electronics, etc as compared to the American as-many-things-as-possible-store. I have enjoyed exploring and finding locals having conversations about their days, their children or their husbands with the small store owner that they know well. I went to a restaurant where it was obvious that children were allowed to run freely. There is a trust in safety that is relieving and relaxing to me. I feel comfortable with windows being wide open to take in the breeze and walking alone after a long day of rehearsal. It has been fun seeing the outfits of Italian women that make a statement. From what I have encountered, there is a larger attention to detail in the way people present themselves. Thank you for being patient in waiting for me to post. I hope to get another glimpse of internet access soon! cropped-header-bw.jpg P.S. I believe I wrote 68 thank-you notes. Your support is INCREDIBLE! Thank you. 🙂