China Night at the Stranieri.
One of the enormous benefits of life in Perugia is the diversity of the student population. My class at L’Universita per Stranieri has students from Belgium, Sweden, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Israel, Holland, Turkey, Palestine, Senegal, Korea, Libya, one guy from Canada and two guys including me from USA. And Italian is the lingua franca of our class.
. . .
I’m sure you a familiar with Marco Polo, the famous 13th Century merchant-explorer who visited and stayed at the court of Kubla Khan, and whose account of the many wonders (pasta?) he found in this relatively advanced civilization was widely published to a skeptical yet curious Europe. Later it inspired Cristoforo Columbo, claimed by Italians as a native son, but possibly a Catalan converso Ebraio.
“Turandot” is set in medieval China with its popular aria, Nessun Dorma, sung by Prince Calaf who awaits his fate as he courts the icy Princess Turandot, Interestingly, the opera, with its characters Ping, Pang and Pong, was banned in China for 72 years after its 1926 premiere in Milan.
After an hour of the usual series of long-winded speeches by everyone from il magnico Rettore of the Stanieri to the Perugia chief of police, the concert began. I’ve posted a few videos: two of the chorus: “Va pensiero, https:www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5uyDBSlijU the chorus of the Hebrew slaves from Verdi’s opera, Nabuco, and another number from China called the “Bed of Chrysanthemum flowers.” https://youtu.be/ZKBbnuJWUM0 The third, by a remarkable pair of students, is an American pop song “Perfect” by the“boy band” One Direction. https://youtu.be/7HiguvSvhJc There were several other knock-out numbers, particularly “Non piu andrai, Farfallone” from Rossini’s Barber of Seville sung by student Geng Zihao in a booming baritone voice. I couldn’t get a video, oto.
The evening was unlike anything I’d ever seen. I gave “Bravos” to some of the students after the show and now I enjoy their courteous greetings when I see them around town. Like so many of the foreign students at the Stranieri, I’ve come to love these kids, their openness, and passion for Iphones and learning!