However, the professor of that class, together with the local staff here at CEA in Rome pulled off a phenomenal event last night, which I wanted to describe here. Apparently, most semesters, they have a Renaissance themed dinner at the beginning of the semester. But this year, Italy is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the "Risorgimento," the unification that established the nation of Italy.
So, they served us a five-course meal, gathered from the various regions of Italy. They also arranged, for our entertainment, some dancing and some singing which focused on 19th century works. The dancing was very good--folky and fun. But the singing ... the singing featured soprano Carmen Petrocelli singing various 19th century arias. Now, we had gathered in the entry foyer of our villa for this, and this woman's voice filled the space like nothing I had ever experienced before.
This was one of those moments when you know you have been given a real privileged opportunity to experience something phenomenal, and it was wonderful to feel that wave of recognition sweep across the whole room. I, like the students, had come up from dinner not quite sure what this "entertainment" would be, and speculating on whether it would be worth it to stick around for it. But once Carmen started singing, there was no question. You could feel the whole room drawn to rapt attention, focusing and just trying to take it all in. It is a wonderful thing to be a skeptic in a skeptical crowd, and to find all doubt expelled from the room in a single musical note.
It was a wonderful, surprising gift to get to hear such a phenomenal vocalist in our own little campus community.