sing for your supper

Okay, I think my life has officially done one of those full circles.

It's friday night, and we had a full day of rehearsal, staging my aria, my duet with Figaro and some various and sundry other scenes in the first act. However, it's one of those gigs where after the rehearsal is over, everybody seems to go their own way. This is fine, I'm used to this situation, especially for some reason with Barber of Sevilles. And in this opera, I'm staying in a town where no one else is, so it adds to the aloneness of the situation.

As I was driving home, I was deciding between going home to my apartment and going to the italian restaurant where I had felt so at home speaking italian to one of the owners. But it was friday night, and I hated the idea of walking into a restaurant alone on a night like tonight. I actually drove home and parked my car, but I didn't get out. Then I kicked my own butt, restarted the car, and drove to the restaurant.

When I arrived, there was a different brother than the one I had met at the front of the restaurant seating people, so I immediately started talking to him in Italian. He asked me if I was italian (what a compliment) and I explained to him that I was an opera singer, and I had met his brother the other night. "Ah si!!" He had heard about me!

We talked for a minute, and he introduced me to the singer who they hired to sing italian and american standards in the restaurant on friday nights. The singer immediately sat down at my table and started chatting me up in italian. He asked me right away if I was married and explained that he had been married three times. I think he is now divorced from his third wife, but has a girlfriend. I told him I was looking for the perfect man. "Take it from me" he quipped "there's no such thing. And I should know!" He was adorable and I enjoyed listening to him sing Fly me to the moon and Volare.

As I sat there, the various brothers came up and kept talking to me in italian. One of the brothers, the one I met the other night, said he wanted to cook for me. I don't get the feeling that he is always in the kitchen cooking, but I know he went in there and made a spaghetti with seafood just for me, and he brought it to me himself with a flourish. In the meantime, the other brother was constantly checking in on me and bringing me more wine. Both of them sat down to have extended conversations in italian with me, which is very good practice for my italian language skills, which are probably fading somewhat due to lack of use.

After two glasses of wine and a tiramisu, the singer and the brothers said "Now, what are you going to sing??" I usually would not get up and sing in a situation like that, but I felt like it would be rude not to. I asked the pianist what he knew, and we settled on Summertime. After I sang it, and everybody cheered, and the italians yelled "more more!!" the pianist asked me "Do you know Musetta's waltz?" Now, I just got finished singing Musetta a few weeks ago, so I couldn't exactly say no. And because the pianist was playing by ear, I looked down and noticed that he was playing the aria a half step lower than it appears in the actual opera. Woo hoo! This was too good to be true!! The one opera aria he knows, I happen to have just finished singing the role, AND he is playing it in a BETTER key for me!! So I gladly belted out some Quando m'en vo, and easily made it up to the high notes, even after the vino and the dessert. There was a guy and his son seated right in front of the piano who happened to be opera buffs (how unusual) and they made me give them an autograph. Some other patrons, who were seated right next to me, stopped by and said "We were wondering why you were here alone!!!" (Like my singing explained that, but I guess to them it did). The italians were beside themselves, and they comped my whole dinner. I was so glad I changed my mind and decided to push myself to be a little social, because I obviously made some people happy, and I got a free meal in the process. It's amazing - sometimes it's easy to be selfish with our gifts, but sharing just a little bit can be so rewarding.

What I mean when I say my life has come full circle, is that I'm back in California, my home state, spending time with Italians totally because I spent time in Italy earlier this year and learned to speak italian, and I'm somehow singing Quando m'en vo for them, which I wouldn't really know had I not just sung it in Bogota. All the parts of my life are coming together at once, and it's funny and special. Life is better when you take risks. I have to keep reminding myself that, but it's so true.