Week 3 – finishing up

Today is the last day of MOS 2015. Since those of you who have sent me comments (thank you, Anne and Jenny) ask for more photos, I will be posting as many as I can from the Jennifer Larmore master class (Tuesday, 25th), Jack’s birthday party (27th), Thursday’s concert (27th), and my last minute trip to Siena yesterday (28th).

The only photo I have of Jennifer and myself was taken at the dinner after her final class. I have sent it from my smart phone (which is still smarter than I at this point), and hope I can upload it here.

Ah, there we are. Jennifer’s classes were quite enlightening…a kinder, more giving, more knowledgeable¬†artist you will never find. I tried to attend as many of her¬†sessions with other singers as possible, but¬†because of the demands of my own lessons and coachings, I could not observe them all. But I learned so much from her. I suggest you google “Jennifer Larmore” to see some¬†lovely photos of her as well as listen to her sing on YouTube…one of the greatest voices of our age.

I will interrupt our regularly scheduled blog to say that the red splotches are gone, but I do have several NEW zanzara bites. However, they are progressing in the normal manner…red and itchy at first, and after a few hours they calm down. There is a “crick” (creek, that is…what we in New England would call “wetlands”) running through town…dirty and still, so I guess it’s not really “running”. We think this is the source of the zanzara and the town doesn’t seem to want to do anything about it. Something I will NOT miss about¬†Tuscany.

Here are more photos from the week. ¬†Jack’s birthday was on Thursday, and we all signed a card and had a couple of small cakes that we shared. Not sure how old he is…probably, oh, 44 maybe?¬†

This is Francesca bringing in the cake. That’s Daniele Piatelle, vocal coach, behind her.


Next, some photos around Greve showing beautiful vineyards, which (along with olive groves) are visible on the hills surrounding town; plus just some impressive homes and doorways.





On Wednesday, one of our participants, Melanie Anderson, left a few days early and threw herself a big party at one of the better restaurants in town, Gallo Nero (Black Rooster). Here are a couple of photos from that night.

This is the “black rooster” symbol on the wall¬†of the restaurant. Below are a few early birds waiting to give their orders.


Here are some photos from¬†the walls of the elementary school where we have our classes. I really enjoyed the¬†children’s artwork. This one is, of course, from the music room, followed by a numbers chart from a pre-school classroom.


On Thursday, I finally got to sing my big solo, “O, ma lyre immortelle” from Gounod’s opera Sapho, at our second concert. I also sang the Flower Duet from Puccini’s Madama Butterfly with my lovely Nadine. Here is a photo of Nadine and me. Dona took this right before we left for¬†the concert venue.
 
 
After the concert, I was taken to a small town about 30 km from Greve called Radda in Chianti. Here’s the story.
 
My good friend Anne Wigglesworth knows this couple, Cindy and Pietro (she is American, he is Italian), who have lived in this large, VERY old stone farm house for¬†about 30 years. Anne said I should contact them, so I did. I invited them to the Thursday concert, and afterwards, we drove to Radda where I got the best night’s sleep I have had since getting here (this flat is the pits…but I don’t like to complain so I’ll leave that alone now).
 
Here are some photos of their home, which they think originally dated from the Etruscan period (Etruscans were the¬†earliest Romans)…the house has had many owners who have made lots of improvements and add-ons. It has 3 levels including 2¬†beautiful terraces where we had breakfast Friday morning. There is also a photo of Cindy and Pietro in front of the staircase leading to the man floor. It’s hard to convey how beautiful this place is through a photo…it’s also quite remote…accessible from the “main road” by a series of winding dirt roads.
 
Here is Cindy at breakfast.
 
View from¬†the terrazzo…
 
 
Cindy and Pietro…


After breakfast, Cindy said “Do you need to be back in Greve today?” I quickly e-mailed the scheduler, Francesca, to see if I had any coachings on Friday (which was supposed to be a “free day”, but “free days” are frequently fluid, that is, scheduled).¬†

Since I had nothing scheduled, Cindy said, “Would you like to go to Siena?” WOULD I? One of the most beautiful Tuscan cities, where the famous Palio is run every year, 2 days in August, and a place I had never been to.¬†

So off we went, Cindy and I (Pietro stayed home) for the 45 min. drive to Siena, where I took these photos. Of course, it was quite crowded, and waiting in line for a ticket to see the Duomol, National Museum, and other famous sites was not practical. But I got some gorgeous photos of exteriors, and can now say I have seen Siena.

This is the Romanesque duomo (this word means “dome” and is used as a designation for many famous Italian churches).


The Palio is a traditional bareback horse race run in the Piazza del Campo. Cindy gave me a wonderfully¬†informative talk about the background of this centuries old tradition. Competition¬†among¬†contradi is fierce. Contrada is the Italian word for “team”, more or less. To be a member of a team, one must inherit membership…these memberships are passed down¬†through the generations, and they can get quite dirty (placement of the race is drawn by lottery; if you happen to get a place directly adjacent to one of your family enemies, there is nothing and no one to stop you from, say, trying to trip your opponent’s horse as the race begins…Cindy says sometimes fist fights break out after the race).

The horses and jockeys (sometimes as many as 30 or 40, representing that many¬†contradi), run around the “track” 3 times, taking only about 90 seconds! Yep, that’s it…90 seconds. All that fuss for 90 seconds of spectacle.

Below is the flag of the¬†contrada that won this year’s race. This¬†contrada is¬†entitled to fly their family flag publicly all over town till¬†the middle of September, when there is a huge¬†cena (pronounced “chayna”), or dinner, for members of the family/contrada. Then the flags are taken down. In my humble opinion, it’s obviously about testosterone and nothing more than a big¬†pissing contest, but that’s¬†just me!


After lunch and a bit of shopping, Cindy took me to the workshop of her¬†friend¬†Graziella Mariotti Olla, a famous ceramics artists, where I got a nice discount for some beautiful ceramic pieces, which are carefully wrapped in layers of¬†bubblewrap and will go into my carryon. ¬†Here is a photo of Graziella’s¬†niece in the workshop. Every piece is hand painted and just stunning.


I found one more photo of myself and Jennifer, which was taken by another singer whom I asked to snap photos of our session, but she didn’t think to zoom in.


CODA: I need to start packing!!¬†Then prepare for my last¬†performance here (I will sing “Voi lo¬†sapete”¬†from Mascagni’s opera Cavalleria¬†Rusticana (the opera in which I sang the character role of Mama Lucia last May in Northampton, MA).

This blog has contained merely a fraction of the photos I have taken, but I hope that the atmosphere and beauty of Tuscany has been obvious.

Aside from the “creature comforts” (or lack of), zanzara (mosquitoes), etc., I have done well, stayed healthy¬†vocally, and feel good about my work here with the world-class coaches and teachers. But I am really ready to get home!

Ciao, and arriverderci!

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