12 February 2013

taking a break from blogging

Sorry for not blogging recently, and no, I am not in NZ. An email tonight from someone who thought I was in NZ made me realise that quite a few days have passed without blogging. Yes it had been my intention to spend this European winter in NZ, but my plans changed considerably a few months ago.

My blogging is usually an evening affair, my conversation with myself. I think it assures me that I still exist, I have a voice, I am who I am.

But with a steady stream of visitors, yes, even in the winter, I don't really feel the need to blog.

My present visitor (now that my favourite tenor has gone to sing elsewhere) is a Wellingtonian. She is fully embracing Italian life, and establishing friendships with people I hadn't met myself as she goes to the pizza shop and has bread made with fillings as she likes it, generally creating a world that I didn't know existed. How she does it with no Italian absolutely mystifies me!

A few days ago I gave her a pattern to crochet a jacket for Zacchi, as she likes to knit or create in her free time. She set off to the shop to buy some wool... blow me down if she didn't find a tartan jacket ready made, so guess who went to Carnevale in costume? No, not me, I am merely the onlooker. Costume is not really my thing, unless at a private theme party. Zacchi went, sporting his new jacket, and was much admired and fussed over in town.

Now the snow is falling. I have seen enough snow to know the downsides (remember last year? My budget still hasn't recovered from the roof avalanche that squashed my car). I am not leaving the car anywhere near the house at the moment, just in case!

It's great having new eyes though... my guest is like a child on Christmas day as the snow settles on the orange trees. It's not that I no longer feel the wonder, I really do. Snow is delightful. But the damp is not, the ache in the joints is not, and so I greet the snow with ambivalence now.

As my visitor talks of winter wonderlands and runs out to take photos of snow on citrus (yes, that was me, in previous years) I think about the firewood supply, and wonder if we will be blocked in again this year, or whether I will lose any more citrus trees. Snow was not the norm here, but times seem to be changing. A few years ago I drove several kilometres to find snow. Now I am happy to enjoy the vista and keep the fire burning.

Actually, I'm not sorry for a lapse in blogging. After all, my family email and skype, they know that all is well. Friends email occasionally.  I blog mostly for myself, and if I decide to take a break then that's exactly what I will do. Life has been really busy with trips to Cassino for different things including organising the next Legato (two venues this year) and my evenings have been filled with friends and fun. So why, really, should I feel bad for not blogging?

Today I am greatful for olive tree firewood.

3 February 2013

it (nearly) was spring...

The day before yesterday was a lovely spring day, so I weeded my bulb and herb garden. Believe it or not there are herbs in there... but every time my worker comes to do heavy work he kindly tidies my garden and slashes back the plants he doesn't recognise. Maybe if I poke the sticks around them he will think twice next time...  and in the meantime the lemon thyme and sage are making a recovery. The others? Well, let's pretend they weren't ever there!

The rosemary, in another garden (not photographed), has got away on me and is a bit "leggy" now. I think it needs a severe pruning, but I haven't the heart to attack it. It will make nice indoor decorations for a while, rather than firewood!

So we had a tantalising taste of spring. Today, however, is another story. With snow on the hills across the valley and the mercury falling it's a quiet night indoors by a roaring fire for me! 

Today I am grateful for home made wine and quality cheeses. 

wouldn't it... be loverly!

A recent discussion of diction and accents with my favourite tenor had me back into Youtube looking for particular songs from My Fair Lady. He had said "I want to go to London and learn to speak (sing) with an English accent". "Be careful, I replied, there is English and English".

I found the wonderful Eliza Dolittle for him, and some Professor Higgins. Together we marvelled at the variations within the English language. He agreed that what he had in mind was perhaps more Henry than Eliza.

From "My Fair Lady" I went to Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music. What wonderful diction. "But she's not a tenor", said my friend. Tonight in my wandering around via Westside Story I discovered the tenor David Curry. He is an interesting one to consider as the Canadian tenor trained in London and has no problems switching from one accent to another. (Here is David Curry singing "Tonight" in Germany).

The debate with my friend was centred around whether he should try to lose his slight American accent and cultivate an English one, or develop the ability to switch from one to another depending on where he is singing, or, his prefered option, stay with his own accent which, as he says, "is part of me".

How much does our persona come via our oral communication? And if you are a professional singer, should you have to conform to different accents at the likely expense of your own "accent history"?

I think you do need to conform. An Italian opera should be sung in Italian with perfect Italian vowel sounds. An English aria demands crisp and clear consonants. And so I think that diction lessons (other than from me) are important. And if this changes the accent of the singer, then so be it! But will that then change the person?  Perhaps it could. It's certainly something to ponder, when you carry things out to an extreme in your imagination. It certainly set me a-thinking.

It is also a long time since I have stayed up until 3am debating a point such as this with my friends. I would love to assemble my favourite talented people to discuss such things, and to help with the diction lessons currently required.

The perfect teacher is in Auckland, but the pupil is shortly to leave Italy for concerts in America. Wouldn't it be wonderful if I could wave a magic wand and have the music/diction teacher/accompianist here, this week, in this house with its wonderful acoustics and dramatic setting?

Not only would a perfect pairing of pupil and teacher be achieved, but also I would have some of my dearest friends sharing their talents, and I would simply be the coffee maker who enjoyed all the music, laughter and witty jokes.

In a perfect world... oh would...n't it... be lov..er...ly?

Today I am grateful for Youtube.