Thursday, January 19, 2012
Ah, it's the start of a new year. I love new things and especially love a new year. It brings with it a feeling that the etch- a- sketch has been shaken and it's time to start on a clean gray board. I brought in the New Year in Florence, Italy where I am currently singing in a new production of Rossini's Il Viaggio a Reims. New Years Eve was wild here. I mean really outrageously wild. I went out with some friends right after the turn of the clock to the New Year and it sounded like a war zone. We were told by our hotel concierge that fireworks were illegal in Florence so there would be no place to watch any over the beautiful Arno river. We were disappointed because we had wonderful views of the river from our balconies. Instead we were told to just walk around the city and experience the livelihood in the streets. Well, lively it was. I grew up around guns. I'm from Georgia, and my father was a Marine Corps Drill Sergeant. I also grew up shooting my own fireworks....in a field of about twenty acres. I know loud gun noises and proper use of firearms and how to shoot a firecracker. Nothing could prepare me for this New Year's experience. Since it was illegal to shoot fireworks in a contained area for fear of lighting a precious Renaissance building on fire, people decided they would have their own firework celebrations in the streets of Florence...Right next to said Renaissance building or...... Right next to where I was standing. Or next to the 400 year old Duomo. Or in some other person's face. Seriously. The sound was unbelievably loud because of the echo off of all the old stone or marbled buildings. Some of them scared me so bad I screamed out loud. I watched as people broke bottles and dodged bottle rockets and I watched while the police also watched. Police were standing around watching adults...not teenagers...fire bottle rockets into crowds, over heads of children and drunken people. Everyone was having a blast. Except for us. I was like a scared dog and was sure I was going to take a bottle rocket in the eye. Needless to say, I tucked my tail and got the hell out of there. The next day the entire place was clean, no glass, no dead bodies, poked out eyes, or burned buildings. The evidence of any bawdy, uncivilized behavior was gone. No one was shocked except for us tidy, law abiding Americans. The only damage was to a centuries old fountain in the Piazza della Reppublica that nearly fell on someone. It was in the newspaper. And, I know there were some eyeball casualties because I dodged several ambulances on my way out of there. It was not in the newspaper. My guess is that one of the missals either exploded on the fountain or the sound of the missal vibrated the portion of the fountain so much that it fell. My guess on the casualties is that they took a bottle rocket in the eye which my Daddy could have prevented with his knowledge of, "Don't shoot fireworks in a crowded space." Or, his other good piece of advice, "Stand back, this one's gonna blow." I'm just glad we made it back safely and lived to tell about it and laugh. I wish I had photos but instead of pictures, I decided to watch out for shooting sharp objects and flying wine bottles. I love Italy because you just never know what you are going to get. But whatever you get is never dull or boring. 2012 is going to be a blast. Ciao!!