Oh dio mio. First my excuse was that I was on vacation from singing and that's why I wasn't blogging. Now my excuse is that I'm too darn hot. That's not exactly a proper excuse, but seriously, if you've ever been in Italy in the end of August, you just might understand.
I arrived in Jesi about a week and a half ago to begin rehearsals for another production of L'Olimpiade - the same opera I sang and recorded in Innsbruck, but in a completely different production. I have to say it was pretty awesome to get hired to sing L'Olimpiade again, because as you might remember from my blogs about it last summer, learning it was a pain in the butt, and I had no idea if I would ever have the opportunity to sing it again. But here I am!
So, I was really excited to come to Italy. If you've read my blog from the beginning, you know that the reason I started blogging was because I was working in Italy for the first time and wanted to record what was going on. And though I was baffled by some things, I was basically in love with Italy and couldn't get enough of it. But here's the thing; I was never here in August. And apparently, it's even hotter than it normally is, and for many more days. There hasn't been a day where the high temperature didn't reach into the nineties. And even for me, who generally shuns air conditioning with even the hottest temperatures, it has been absolutely overwhelmingly horrifying. And there is not an air conditoner in sight. And my aparment is on the top floor of a very old building with very poor ventilation. I feel like a baked potato.
When I first arrived, I had my usual bout of anxiousness about being in a new situation, and was upsest to discover that the usb stick that I was supposed to use for all my internet purposes only worked intermittently. I almost had an anxiety attack when I thought I wouldn't be able to use skype to call my family for an entire month. I've said this before and I'll say it again; there's no way I could do this job without the aid of the internet. I NEED to stay connected to those people that ground me in life or I feel like I'm going to float away. And those first couple of days in Jesi when I thought that there wasn't going to be a way for me to keep in contact with them that wasn't prohibitively expensive, I wondered whether I was going to have to turn around and go back home. I know that sounds drastic, but remember that I have been safely ensconsed in my apartment in New York all summer with no stress except for my cat loudly meowing at 6 in the morning. And then suddenly I find myself in a foreign country with no reliable connection to the outside world.
But luckily I made it past those first couple of days, found a couple of internet cafes, and found the best programs to use with this fickle usb stick that seemed to work more of the time than not (google chat seems to work better than skype, which won't work at all). And I discovered just how different this L'Olimpiade would be from the last one.
I assumed that it would be many of the same singers from Innsbruck, since the conductor and the orchestra will be the same, but it was just little old me and a whole cast of new singers. There are some illustrious names in the group, including tenor Raul Giminez, who has sung in all the major houses in the world, and soprano Lyuba Petrova, who you may remember as the Queen of the Night from the Kenneth Branaugh Magic Flute Movie. But the production is very different than I imagined, because the format is different than anything I have ever experienced.
I assumed we would be performing in the theater named after Pergolesi himself, but instead we will be performing in a church just down the street, which has been converted into a little theater. But instead of performing on that stage, a platform has been set up in the shape of a cross the covers the entire floor of the theater, and there are seats for the public in the four corners of the cross. The orchestra will be on the stage behind the platform, and the singers will face any direction they want, since there are audience members on all sides. It is a type of theater in the round, with the public very close and seeing things from different vantage points. There is virurually no set other than the platform, and there are 6 supers who play various roles, from moving various pieces of furniture to playing servants to dancing. It is actuallly going to be really interesting from the audience perspective because instead of watching everything from afar, it will almost be as if they are inside what is happening, which is extremely rare for an opera production.
And even with all the turmoil and anxiety I was feeling in the first couple of days, I had to admit that I was in Italy, and there were some things that were balancing the heat and isolation - namely; the food. I don't know why the food that you buy here tastes so much better than it does at even the fanciest farmers market in the U.S., but there is just a huge difference. The peaches are bursting with flavor, the egg yolks are almost red, and the sausage never turns a dull grey when you cook it. The ricotta tastes like it came directly from the udder of a cow and the arugula is so spicy it's like eating black pepper. There is just no place I have been where food is taken so incredibly seriously. I will never get tired of eating here, that's for sure.
More soon, assuming I haven't melted......