Week 2 Highlights

Ciao tutti!

Before I start talking about what we learned in terms of singing this week, I'd like to talk about my experience of mass at the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, better known is Il Duomo. I and a small group of others attended 10:30am mass with the Archbishop of Florence. At first, we couldn't find how to get inside the church. The front doors were locked, and every time we would ask one of the thousands of tourists outside how to get in for church, they'd say, "It doesn't open until 1:30." But an official-looking man pointed us to the right side of the church, where a small guarded side door granted access only to those who were there to attend mass. Once inside, this cavernous space that most people look at only for the historical beauty was transformed into a church just like any other, where a bulletin sat on each chair (except here in four different languages), a choir sang away in their stands beside the altar, and babies cried continuously. I honestly felt like I was experiencing the space I was in for what it was intended to be used for. Most people who go to that church pay to take looks at it and walk around, but we get to actually experience the place - for free. It was a beautiful mass. 

Anyway, some highlights from this week! We had two masterclasses - one from Sally Wolf (faculty at Westminster Conservatory) and one from Benita Valente (faculty at Temple University). Both are alumni of the Curtis Institute of Music (Benita for undergrad, Sally for grad), and both led absolutely brilliant careers, especially focusing on Italian opera. I was in Benita's masterclass, and can I just say that she may be eighty years old, but she can still sing better than Sarah Brightman could ever hope. 

This week I had three coachings, four voice lessons, two scene coachings, and two staging rehearsals. Now please allow me to go on a brief praise and glory tangent: 

This program is SO well set up. I have fallen in love with the time schedule here. It allows for so much freedom but at the same time has you singing so consistently. The amount of time that I gave directly to the program in the past four days including masterclasses (which we about two hours each) is ten and a half hours. Doesn't seem like much, right? Wrong. It's perfect. Too much singing in a day can be very bad for your vocal health, and the last thing that the program wants is for us to have no voice left for our public performances at the end of these three weeks. Besides that, we need time to enjoy Florence! We need to be able to sight-see (there are tours offered every day), we need to be able to find our favorite little places around town to get food, we need to cook, we need to do laundry (which I did today, what a hassle), we need to talk with the locals, sometimes even exercise or take a nap! With our schedule, doing all of that is feasible, and I still feel like I'm making vast improvement every day. So, below I have to recordings: the second is from a coaching that I had this past Wednesday on "Ma Rendi Pur Contento" by Bellini, but the first is from a professional recording I made of the same song during winter break this past year as part of my audition for this program. This should help you see really how much the faculty here are helping me.

Other general happenings from this week included the famous Florence leather markets and a run around the Arno River with my running buddy, Laura Bagiotti, a soprano from Molloy College who is rooming with my St. Louis friend Natalie Hunt. I was able to snap a couple of good photos. 

This weekend is going to be one for the record books, so please keep checking back to the blog regularly. It will be in three parts - Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I have a ton of amazing stuff planned for each day, and all of it is a secret - except that Friday is my 19th birthday! Thank you all so much for reading and enjoying my blog thus far.

Sam KrauszComment