July 26

Santa Barbara Choral Society sings (and sweats) in the shadow of the Uffizi

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We arrived on July 14 in Florence and it was HOT HOT HOT. The temp was about 105 degrees and pretty humid, what with the Arno meandering through town and the town’s being situated in a broad valley that traps the heat. We had arranged tickets for the group for entrance into the Accademia (to see David) which Mike and I opted out of, having seen David a couple of times before. The group also had advance tickets for the Uffizi, which we opted to do, even though we’d also done it a couple of times before as well, figuring that at the Accademia there’s primarily the David (which is glorious) and a few other of Michelangelo’s works, but not the volume to see that there is at the Uffizi, which really deserves multiple visits. After this experience, I wouldn’t recommend doing it in the summer, however, since it is just people cheek by jowl and it’s tough to even get close enough to the Botticelli Venus (or anything else for that matter) to really study it much. You pretty much just get herded through in a flock and it’s not the most artistically satisfying way to do it.

Mike and I opted, instead of seeing David for the third time, to go to the Institute and Museum of the History of Science, which houses all manner of 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th Century scientific instruments (both real and reproductions) including some of Galileo’s actual telescopes and machines he constructed for determining physical properties, such as the velocity of falling objects. In addition, there are numerous other curiosities, including what’s reputed to be Galileo’s right middle finger bone, purportedly lopped off his hand when his corpse was moved from its initial resting place to the marble tomb in Chiesa Santa Croce that’s much more befitting his monumental contributions to the body of scientific understanding. The bony digit is now enclosed in an ornamented glass reliquary in the museum. Go figure why. Perhaps some Florentine’s idea of dark humor, to have Galileo flipping off the powers that be for all eternity.

sbcs-singing-at-san-stefano-in-florence.jpg

We spent a few very hot and sticky, but interesting days in Florence, culminating in our concert there at San Stefano al Ponte Vecchio, right in the shadow of the Uffizi. The photo above, Mike took just after the end of our concert, after our accompanying orchestra (Nova Amadeus Orchestra, again) had left the stage. If we thought Rome was a sweltering venue, it wasn’t shucks up to the side of the heat in Florence, even by concert time at 9 pm. We again performed the Haydn Theresienmesse (which Mike avers we ‘nailed’ and said that it was our best performance ever of it) and the Lauridsen Lux Aeterna. By the time he took this photo, we were pretty limp and worn out, both from the exertion of singing those two major and demanding choral works back to back without intermission and from the heat. The venue was packed, without a seat remaining that I could see and the Florentine’s loved it.

We had arranged with a Florentine audio recording company to make a professional live recording of the performance, which will become a CD. When it does, I’ll post info about it.

On to Vicenza, to enjoy attending a performance of Verdi’s Aida at the Arena di Verona and to give our next two back to back performances (this time of our non-orchestral repertoire) in Asiago and at Villa Coldogna.

Caio for now!


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