Week 3/Dress Rehearsals!
What a hot week it has been!! It's touched ninety degrees every day this past week, and our apartments don't seem to have any air conditioning. On Monday night, my little group of friends decided to try one of the suggested restaurants that our coordinator noted in our program packet, called Al Tranvai. The restaurant is famous for its "home-cooked" pasta. We were sure it would be great as soon as we walked in and happened upon our entire program staff already seated and ready to eat. It was quite the coincidence. They told us exactly what to order, and we gladly took the advice. Afterward, the staff told us to go to the little gelato place right by the restaurant, called La Sorbettiera, and without much thought, we concluded it is the best gelato in Florence. They have a flavor which you can't find anywhere else called Buontalenti, a delightfully simple yet sweet creamy flavor. We went back twice this week, and at least a few of the program staff members were there both times. On Wednesday, we went to the beach! Well, not really, but there's a little restaurant right on the shore of the Arno that placed sand there to make the atmosphere like a beach. All in all, it was a fun night.
Anyway, this week was very, very busy with coachings, rehearsals, a masterclass, and dress rehearsals. The masterclass was with Italian conductor Marco Balderi, and my what a conductor he is. He's a gentle person, but very direct. His English isn't very good, but he loves talking with his hands, and he has a way of doing that that lets us know exactly what he is saying every time he talks. We all loved working with him.
This week, I asked for voice lessons with Sally Wolf and Benita Valente, the voice faculty members who I was not assigned to study with while here. Both were amazingly accomplished singers (as is Kevin Langan, my assigned teacher here, who is going to San Francisco to perform Fidelio with Michael Tilson Thomas in a little over a week), and both are wonderful teachers. Benita actually asked me for a second lesson, and after the second lesson, she asked for a third, which I will have on Sunday before our final concert.
Finally, on Friday, we had our dress rehearsal of both concerts (the concerts are completely different from each other), and I took video of a few of the acts. I'd like this opportunity to share a little bit of the other talent at this program, so here are two videos - one opera scene and one aria. The first video is of Kristi Spicer, who just graduated from Ithaca College, and the second is of Veronica Richer, sophomore at the Boston Conservatory, and Samantha Bramm, sophomore at Towson University.