I hope you've been enjoying the posts from my fellow chorister, Amy, who is composing guest blogger posts for me while Belle Canto is competing in the Seghizzi festival in Gorizia, Italy. As much as it kills me inside to see continuous Facebook updates and the uploaded photos, I can't help but look to see what they're doing! I feel like I'm extremely informed on what is going on! Ah, the amazing way internet connects us all. Amy even said that one of my Hungarian blog readers, Evelyn-a Magnificat Youth Choir member from Budapest, said hi to my choir during the welcome ceremony! I have this warm, fuzzy, choral feeling in my heart. Ah, readers uniting in choral love! Thanks to Ken who even snapped a picture to document this meet!
Photo credit: Erin M.
Heat and Singers Don't Mix
Guest Blogger: Amy B.
Hello again from beautiful, sunny, sweaty, sweltering Italy! We have been here for over a week now and there are so many things we have learned to love about Italy: the gelato (have I mentioned this before?), the appreciative audiences, the relaxed sense of time, the wine, the gorgeous stone streets and the history around every corner, to name just a few. I wish I could blog about any one of these things, or the music we’ve been able to perform here. But there is this one lingering issue I think we can all agree has tempered our enthusiasm for Italy and for the experience in general: THE HEAT.
Before leaving, I took the liberty of checking the weather forecast for Italy and discovered that it would probably be hot and consistently so – the average high for every day of the forecast was 34 degrees Celcius, and the low was 21. There was never any mention of wind, rain….or any other kind of weather, so I wasn’t expecting any. No surprises and hot days. That’s what I was prepared for.
On average, the weather here HAS been unfailingly consistent. And hot. The average and unchanging temperature range since we’ve arrived has been 38-42 degrees Celsius. No wind, no rain…or any other kind of weather. Just hot.
Nothing looks the same in this heat. Nothing FEELS the same in this heat. OR SOUNDS the same. Every breath, every movement, every note we sing is affected by the oppressive sun.
This seems dramatic, I know, and I’m sure there are people reading this now who are thinking: “Oh come on – how bad can it REALLY be?”….and the answer is REALLY bad. But, true professionals soldier on and we have, for the most part. Many of us now own fans and the sound of them waving in the still and stifling humid air has becoming the white noise of our rehearsals. We are drinking bottles and bottles and BOTTLES of water and powerade, which has created a new standard for bathroom break intervals on long bus trips. We have also developed a fascination for ANY product displayed in ANY store with reasonable air conditioning, and will go to great lengths to check out EVERYTHING in that store in detail before moving on.
Photo credit: Erin M.
These strategies, however, only help before and after we sing. During hot performances, we have had to employ different techniques to survive and continue to produce music worth listening to. Our casual uniforms have been a blessing, as they are shorter than our formal uniforms, allowing slightly more skin to remain uncovered. Our hairstyles and make up routines have been considerable reduced before singing, since we’ve discovered that it all gets swept away in sweat anyways. Wet cloths against our necks are a great relief just prior to going on stage. Some choristers (who shall remain nameless) have even been known to soak uniforms before wearing them, in order to benefit from the cooling effects of evaporation. Also, not one of us has uttered the words “nylons?” in our director’s presence and so, thus far, we have not been asked to wear them once….at this point, it would seem like adding insult to injury.
The upsides of this weather for singers are few but I’ll mention them: we are almost permanently vocally warmed up in the extreme humidity and we are generally a more pleasing colour after a week of exposure to constant sun, even with the spf 45 sunscreen we’ve been reapplying. As well, we’ve had several neutral audience members tell us that there is a nice “glow” about us as we sing….these people clearly can’t see close enough to spot the sweat running down our backs.
I’m hot just thinking about this, and it’s time to sing again – off for a quick gelato (my all time favorite Italian heat survival technique) before the show!
Photo credit: Erin M.