To the Veneto (how do you pronounce it?) Canta.

Written by Michael on .

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Bright and early, (well, I am not sure whether bright and early is the right description.)  we were up next day.  The Ladies Choir went off to fly solo in Miane whereas for us, “the next was Verona.” (a tiny theatrical allusion there although we didn’t “open in Venice.”)

For many of us it was our first visit to Verona and it really felt ”Italian” as we ate lunch, thankfully in the sunshine at last, out in the Piazza Bra directly opposite the wonderful Roman Amphitheatre.  Later in the afternoon a visit to a vineyard had been arranged and it was then we became fully aware of the damage that had been caused by the heavy rain.  Many of the fields were totally under water and we learnt that there was a suggestion that the roads around our concert venue would be closed and our performance cancelled. 

This time we were singing in a proper theatre, the “Teatro Centrale,” in Verona. Unlike our other 2 concerts we were scheduled to do a 50 minute set.  Appearing with us was the Gruppo ritmico corale Corus di Caldiero and the Associazone culturale Coro della Fontanella di San Bonifacio who started the evening.  Several of our men found themselves changing in the corridor behind the stage so that the women had to avert their eyes as they passed.  One female member though, who will remain nameless, declared that she would like to stay and watch but the general feeling was that she had led a very sad life if she felt the need to watch we men changing!

The San Bonifacio Choir seemed all of “a certain age.”  In fact they all actually looked older than us! As far as I could tell from my very limited (non-existent) Italian they seemed to be part of a University research project to preserve local folk songs and traditions. Certainly, they did not appear very experienced in performing in public as one of the men stood looking rather lost behind some very tall singers.  In fact he was so lost he had his back to the audience for the first song.  On the other hand, The Corus di Caldiero were quite magnificent with one of the best tenors I have ever heard outside the professional arena.

Our 50 minute set went really well again as we seemed to grow in confidence.  For our encore here, Cliff invited the other choirs on stage to sing Va Pensiero (the Slaves Chorus from Nabucco, I know it as.)   That was such a great experience and I believe that several women got dates for St Mark’s Square with the younger Italian men but, perhaps we ought to draw a veil over that!  

This time our dinner arrangements were different.  As far as we could make out we had been invited by some of the organisers to join them, or so we thought, in one of their homes. We wondered who would have a house large enough to accommodate 120 or so people and sit them down to dinner.  Certainly, the bus went through a very, very narrow, private gateway (nearly taking off his wing mirrors) and we found ourselves in some sort of lean-to, wooden structure, rather like a large tent although it had 2 sections.  I hesitate to call them 2 rooms.

One part of the structure seemed very cold and full of mosquitoes but in other, which seemed much warmer and brighter the walls were filled with pictures and photos of entertainers, musical and singing groups including, we discovered, the men who served us.  The ages of our 3 servers we calculated to total about 250 and one of them chattered to us constantly in Italian none of which  we understood but his energy was infectious and in the end, together, they sang to us so we replied with “Jerusalem.” For one of our party it was her birthday and, for reasons too complicated to elaborate here, we sang Happy Birthday to her 3 times.  We also had a raucous rendition of “If I were a Rich Man.” from one of our tenors.  I never did work out why but it did not matter: it was that sort of night.  We got to bed eventually at just about 3.30 so after a 2.30 bed time on the previous night we were gradually becoming exhausted.

But, it had been fun.

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