Friday, January 23, 2009


On to Livorno .

It wasn't that long a trip from Germany to Italy, but it was--to mix a metaphor--
quite a sea change. The air was cold and crisp, the wind brisk and chilling,
but it was warmer than Berlin: I could step outside without a coat for a moment and
not freeze. And the sea was nearby. It wasn't beach weather, but still.

Here's a picture from the front of the train station in Livorno: note the vibrant palm trees.

Now, I really do like Berlin. But the place I had been staying was underheated, especially at night, and I'd been sick. So I was oh-so-grateful for a slightly warmer climate.

Before anyone gets too excited about the warmer weather, let me point out that it was still cold and blustery.

The next day, I had my company audition at 3. Promptly at 2, a wonderful Italian soprano (spinto), a Korean baritone and I arrived and waited outside--and I do mean outdoors--the audition location, a choir hall. In the cold, windy air. Luckily there was
a little shelter from the wind and a patch of sunshine. Note that I no longer felt at all warm: I had--stupidly--worn a light-weight outer layer to the audition
because it had been nice outside and my winter coat is a desperately lumpish, stylistic-death, two-sizes-too-large, worn-looking but super toasty ski jacket. Makes me look like Nanook of the North instead of the dashing diva. Did I mention it's super toasty...

But I digress.

So it was very cold, and the three of us got to the audition an hour early. And waited. And waited. At 3 on the dot, the Maestro and pianist drove into the courtyard to let us in and start the auditions, thank goodness. They were charming, in the Italian style. Shortly after, a few
thereafter other singers started to dribble in. After a bit of organizing and talking to the accompanist, the auditions got going, in a tiny, very bright, live room, with a wonderfully powerful portable heater. I toasted up immediately. I got to go first, which is always my preference.

The Maestro spent a long time talking with me and hearing me sing (and with the next singer, my Italian spinto friend, too,). I sang three arias, 3/5 of the Italian rep I'd brought with me that day. (The other two Italian pieces would have been a challenge for the accompanist to read, for differing reasons, include recitative.) Three arias tends to be a good sign for an audition.

One forgets how lavish with fulsome praise Italians can be! It makes singing an audition such a pleasure--not that the praise means you'll get hired, but it still feels nice to hear how wonderful you are instead of the American "Thank you," or the German brutal truth. On the other hand, I'd rather hear the brutal truth: I can learn and grow from it, whereas I can't improve if someone tells me I'm the bestest and the mostest but doesn't hire me. Still, that's personal taste, and it can be a mite hard on the ego.

The next morning, I was catching a train to Trento, where my friend E. lives. (I was making a slight detour on my way to Munich.) The second photo is a picture of the ceiling of the train station in Livorno--just a local train station and yet it's stunning: the beauty in the decorative arts and architecture in Italy--as in much of Europe--never ceases to amaze.

What I'm listening to: Schoenberg Op. 2. Studying for my concert. Not in the train, though, it's too loud. (And let's not talk about the average level of cleanliness, basic repair, and overall availability of bathrooms in Italian vs. German trains. Whatever you've heard, it's probably true.)

What I'm reading: 1) Continuing with my Arabic alphabet book. Now I have 6 more letters (for a total of 13) that I can be illegible with. Arabic script is beautiful, but I find the
curved characters hard to recognize and decipher when I look at a word, and I'm certainly nowhere near adequate at writing my 13 characters. 2) The Accidental Sorcerer by K.E. Mills. Fun book, sort of in the Terry Pratchett comedic school of light fantasy. The first of a series. I'm about halfway through it.

What I'm working on: same old, same old--but I do like the same old.
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