So maybe someone can tell me why it is that whenever I make an important debut with a company I have to lie on the ground for my first big aria? My first big role at New York City Opera was Lazuli in L'Etoile and I almost had a heart attack when I discovered that they wanted me to sing the first very delicate and high aria while lying on my stomach with my head propped in my hands. I got them to agree to let me lie on my side, which I deemed a better position for singing, and it has become a long-running joke with my friend Tim, who was the assistant director, that I practically shreiked "you want me to lie like that WHILE I'M SINGING????" at the first suggestion of that position. Well, guess what? I have to lie down while I sing Parto Parto, my first big aria, which also happens to be the most well known aria in the opera. The director has it staged so that the soprano sort of climbs on top of Sesto (my character) and then Sesto sort of turns her over and lies on top of her and sings the whole first section of the aria while lying kind of on top of her. Of course, the famous Italian singer who is singing Sesto in the first cast doesn't really have anything to prove, so she'll try anything. I however, am making my debut here in Italy, so I feel like I want to really wow 'em with my singing, which will be exponentially more difficult to do while straddling the soprano.
However nervous I am about singing in weird positions, I have to say I have really enjoyed watching this director, Graham Vick, work. First of all I'm impressed that this english man is totally fluent in Italian, and that he seems to know every word of this score by heart. His method for mounting a new production is (at times excruciatingly) slow, but the outcome is really something to behold. Also, I love how he really gets in the middle of the scene while it's happening, kind of lets the actors do their thing, but guides them by being right there among them. He mouths the recits and acts them out while they're happening (which I have noticed I do with my own students while their singing if I'm trying to pull something from them and I really feel it in my own body) and sometimes he just stops everyone and thinks about things silently for several minutes, and then comes up with some totally brilliant idea that nobody was expecting. My favorite thing he does is when he looks at the scene and decides it's not working, walks over to the miniature model of the set, stares at it for a few minutes, and reaches in like it's Barbie's dream house and starts rearranging the miniature furniture. Then the stage managers look at what he has done, move around the real furniture to match what he's done, and suddenly the scene works beautifully. I just love watching him reaching into the tiny set and rearranging the furniture the same way I used to do with my dollhouse. I still haven't sung a peep or done a single thing, but I'm actually getting a lot out of watching.
I STILL have not been to the supermarket. After rehearsal I went out for "aperitif" and dinner with a lovely Swiss girl in the cast named Rachel. Aperitif is this thing in Torino kind of like happy hour, except with tons of exquisite FREE food just for the price of one drink. A drink costs between 3-6 euros, and in the bar is a table of gorgeous food all for free. There are things like white beans sauteed in garlic, prosciutto and cheese on fresh bread, rice balls, brussel sprouts, all types of grilled vegetables, pizza, - I could go on for a long time. And all of it is free. You could absolutely eat dinner and be stuffed for the price of your 3 euro beer. Pretty fantastic!!!
On the way home from dinner I stopped for a 3 scooper of gelato - chocolate, nutella, and some kind of chocolatey,vanilla malt ball flavor. Jealous?
Oh, one more funny thing I learned - toilet paper is called carta igienica, which exactly translated means hygenic cards. And also there's a bidet in my bathroom. I am gonna be SO clean and sanitary!