First Week: Key Moments
Hello! First of all, sorry for the long break between posts. The internet has been very shoddy in our apartment building, so this post is coming about a full day late. The rest of the week brought me many experiences, including an Italian diction class with a recitative section (photo to the left), taught by Debra Scurto-Davis.
We received a fantastic acting class in which our teacher offered some very important quotes:
"Every note from the orchestra is a gift to you." - Martha Collins
"Giuseppe Verdi spent two months reciting his libretto before writing a single note of Rigoletto. Why? Because opera is about communication." - Martha Collins
I had two scene coachings, one solo coaching, and two dramatic coachings. A snippet from the other scene I am doing, again from Elixir of Love by Donizetti, is posted below. My partner in this scene is Eun Byoul Song. She is a South Korean Masters candidate at the University of Massachusetts, with quite a powerful and versatile voice. I am again very, very lucky to have her as my partner!
On Thursday night, the program attended the final dress rehearsal of Leonard Bernstein's Candide at the gorgeous new house of Opera Firenze. It was an ultra-modern take on the piece, including almost seventy cast-members, countless props and set pieces, an amazing lighting and set design, amazing talent, and some controversial and unique directorial choices. The biggest controversy of the show: It was in English! Opera cast members in Italy and all over Europe are known for being very adverse to doing operas in other languages - something very different from the attitude in America. As an American opera student, I am expected to balance English, Italian, German, and French, with the ultimate goal to be fluent in each. As my voice teacher here, Kevin Langan, explained: American singers are truly the most versatile in the world. He told me of when he played the Emperor in Verdi's Aida alongside Luciano Pavarotti at the Met. While Pavarotti would sometimes correct Langan on his Italian diction, it was clear to Langan that Pavarotti's English diction was pitiful. And it's true, listen to any track on Pavarotti's Christmas album and it is immediately painfully obvious that he is not a native English speaker. Anyway, I digress. It was at times very obvious that members of the Italian cast of Candide had very poor English diction, and I am sure that there was some opposition to performing a show in English. As an American student, this notion is mind-boggling to me.
Finally, on Friday night, my teacher, Kevin Langan, gave a master class for eight students. He offered tons of great advice to each student despite only having fifteen minutes with each. Here is a photo of him working with my scene partner mentioned above. With this, the week came to a very satisfying end.