As of last night, I am finished with the Bel Canto Institute. Currently, I am driving through beautiful, beautiful Toscana/Umbria/Lazio with my grandfather, listening to a podcast called the "the Shazamcast", made by two of my best friends, Leo and Dan. (You all should listen to it! If you like superheroes, it's your thing. Anyway, Italy… is ridiculously beautiful. I'm not sure if I said that in the last post, but in my opinion, almost everything about Italy, primarily the landscape and the FOOOOOD are so much more beautiful than that of America.
My friend Valentina, who has lived in Italy/ Monaco all of her life, never seemed very pleased with American food. Now I see why!
I'm going to miss Florence… while the Bel Canto institute might not have been fun, the rare moments I had time to actually explore were extremely enjoyable. For example, I spent most of the Saturday before last walking around Florence- I meant to go to the flea market, the 14th century pharmeceutical garden, and an art collector's house that got turned into a museum when he died 30 years ago. The flea market was right next to my host mama's house, so I rather enjoyed going there. The location was quite nondescript- several narrow shacks in the middle of a piazza. There were people that tried to sell you two-euro bracelets, dusty old bookstores, and lots of plane trees. Romany ladies (gypsies) in their loose t shirts and long colorful skirts shook their cups of coins in your face.
I love the Romany! Even though I'm always wary of getting my wallet stolen when I'm near them, i've always been fascinated by the culture, and it's really funny how different it ACTUALLY is than, say, my board of "Gypsy/B0hemian Clothing" on pinterest. They're very interesting people. There was the woman with the long braids who hung around the Duomo, the man who always played the accordion near my music school, the old lady with the scarves tied around her hair who asked passers by at the grocery store for a bit of spare change, and the girl who looked around my age, sitting outside of the bank, drinking beer after beer. In september, I plan on studying the culture.
Anyway, the flea market looked quite seedy from the outside, but once you actualy went in, you saw the cute gardens, dusty stalls, and charming white lawn chairs everywhere. I had no money, but I enjoyed peering in through the dusty dark windows- I saw many creepy dolls, shiny mandolins, jewelry, books, victorian furniture, and jars of strange old knickknacks. My walk to the garden was in vain, though, because I couldn't seem to find it. The church itself was quite beautiful, though… I was quite disappointed when I found you needed to pay 9 euros to go in, and even more disappointed when my friends told me they had been there, and how to get there. There was a little shop nearby, that sold herbal remedies and soaps and such. After that, I took a walk across the Arno to the south (well, it looks south on the map) half of Florence. I was hot, sweaty, and extremely tired from the long working hours of the Bel Canto institute, but everything I saw was freaking beautiful. It blows my mind how old Florence is… it's very, very different from New York City! Florence is a lot more organic, a lot more preserved, whereas Manhattan is very shiny, new, and mixed.
I never did find the museum. But I was very glad indeed that I took a walk that day instead of going on the excursion with the rest of the class. It's not that I was trying to avoid people; it's just that Jane said that "there was a surprise" on that day, and if you wanted to go, raise your hand… you could only go if you raised your hand, and she would only tell you if you raised your hand. I can't commit to something unknown! I think that next year, the "surprise" should have been going to the beach, rather than playing botchi ball (however you spell it).
The next week was the week leading up to the performance. It was AMAZING how much my voice teacher helped me with my voice! I love her energy, and the techniques and visualizations she gave me to help. I recorded every lesson to listen to when I got back home. Mercifully, the performance classes were over, and my mom sent Jane and email asking Jane to stop talking about my hair. We had a class on how to do stage makeup, and I had bought some concealer, eyeshadow, and lipstick for practicing. Apparently, I was really good at doing makeup, and it was my first time! I suppose it helps when you've been ODing in Rupaul's Drag Race all month. I'm fascinated by the drag culture, and I love seeing a man transform into a woman… for me, it's the height of makeup magic. I miss the gay community of New York! I haven't seen any gay people AT ALL in Italy… but the day before I left for Italy, my mom took me to a gay piano bar on Christopher Street on the weekend of the Pride Parade. I was facing out the window, so I could see all the drag queens walking by. Our waiter, a slim graceful man wearing shorts and an artfully slashed shirt, was scandalized when my mom and I said that we just wanted water… "JUST water?? It's f**cking Friday! It's Pride weekend!"
The pianist's boyfriend sat right in front of the piano, and then the same waiter started flirting with him. All of a sudden, the pianist stops playing, slams his hand on the piano and yells, "HEY! That's my man!" Then the whole bar starts chanting "Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!" There wasn't any violence, though… at one point, when the pianist was playing "Piano Man", he let the waiter sing a verse. He sang it, "Jim, I believe this is killing me, as a smile ran away from my face, well, I'm sure that I could be a porno star, if Michael just sat in my face!"
I'm a little sad that I missed the pride parade, because that was the exact same day I left for Florence, and they were having some of my favorite drag queens perform there! Milk… Jujubee… Pandora Boxx… well, there's next year. Hopefully, I'll be staying home more next summer, or at least hanging out with my family. Remember when I was talking about GAD last year? The Going Away Disease? Well, it hit me pretty hard this year. Especially as my family wasn't there! So, I had read somewhere that doing your favorite hobbies that you do a lot at home helps you cope with it. So, I went to the fabric store near my house and bought several yards of dusky pink satin and shimmery copper organza, and made a very poufy neovictorian skirt. Then I went to the 99 cent store and bought a ton of duct tape and also some plastic dish racks with which I cut out some crude boning. Then after I made the corset base, I covered it with strips of what looked like teastained brown ribbon with latin script all over it. Then when it was done, I burned some holes in the back with incense, and laced it up with ribbon.
I wore it on monday (my version of giving Jane the finger). My mom had sent Jane an email, and apparently she responded saying that "there were problems with my focus" and that "I might have trouble with college". This sounds an awful lot like how my teachers in public school talked about me to my mom, but WHO'S HOMESCHOOLED NOW?? For the concert, I had my hair done up really fancy by my good friend Kate, who used several elegant pictures on pinterest for reference. I wore my grandmother's fuschia necklace and a long, elegant wine-red gown. I had serendipiduously found it in a thrift store with my mom for ten dollars! Of course, I wore makeup, as well. My friend Nicolas said that he liked my makeup, but "it wasn't me". My friend Kira, who lives in New York, wore a slitted turquoise dress which looked extremely beautiful with her red hair, which she did up in a complex braided knot. She sang several art songs, and also an aria from "La Serva Padrona", where she was an extremely sassy serving maid named Serpina. My other roommate, Eva, wore a floaty, pale pink gown, and pinned her hair up with silver rhinestone pins. One of the songs she sang was one of the songs that Jane had assigned to me, but my voice coach admitted it sounded too silly for me too sing it. I loved how Eva interpreted it, though.
I sang two songs that I had been working on before ("Segui, segui, dolente core", and "O cessate di piagarmi"), plus an EXTREMELY fun song in the Neopolitan dialect called "Me voglio fa'na casa". I had first heard it in performance class, but it was a lot funnier, because somehow to me, operetic tenors make songs a lot funnier, and I was laughing so hard when I heard the song. The concert itself was held in a big, grand auditorium, with several hundred seats. I was slightly nervous about singing Italian in front of italians, but I just let the music take over me, and communicate more through my actions. Afterwards, I was reunited with my mom, my grandpa, and Valentina, who had driven ALL the way from Narni to see me! There was a lot of tearful hugging, but I had to say goodbye, and spent the rest of the night at an excursion with Mary Elizabeth eating fried potatoes with jam.