Monthly Archives: September 2010
This past Tuesday night, students in Professor Antonella Valoroso’s Honors class spent a night at the Opera. The show of choice: L’Elisir d’Amore (performed at Teatro Morlacchi) written by Gaetano Donizetti in 1832. Donizetti wrote this opera in only seven days after the previous opera writer at the Teatro della Canobbiana in Milan had quit, Professor Valoroso explained during intermission. It is now one of the 20 most preformed operas in North America. With its light-hearted music and silly love tale, students were enchanted not only by Donizetti’s work but also by the theater itself. Teatro Morlacchi was built in the 1800s and became the theater of Perugia’s new middle class.
Students laughed along with the rest of the audience at the story of the poor, enamored peasant Nemorino. He is deeply in love with Adina and buys a L’Elisir d’Amore (love potion) from the traveling salesman and quack, Dr Dulcamara. Unbeknown-est to him, the bottle of love potion contains only wine! Filled with delightful songs and the famous aria “Una furtiva lagrima” students needed no L’Elisir d’Amore to fall in love with this comedic opera!
(pictured from left to right: Elise Fitzgerald, Alex Hanken, Justin Baldassare, Caroline Dallas)
With a needle and thread in hand, students began sewing their very own Pigotta doll for UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund. Every week, student volunteers will work towards creating these special handmade dolls, the very symbol of UNICEF in Italy. Each doll helps raise enough money to fund a vaccine kit protecting a child against deadly diseases in developing countries. Students sew alongside Italian university students and UNICEF volunteers in the beautifully frescoed UNICEF office, only a 10 minute walk from Umbra Institute. The UNICEF volunteers warm, caring energy makes it is easy and fun for all novice seamstresses and seamsters to enjoy themselves and learn a few tricks of the trade. It is the perfect opportunity for the student volunteers to learn Italian, make new friends, and be proud of their generous donation to a global cause.
This past weekend, thirty-six Umbra students headed to the beautiful “peninsula Sorrentina” to enjoy summer’s final encore. After getting rained on a little in Pompeii on Friday, the sun came out on Saturday afternoon in Capri, accompanying the group on a rocky but thrilling ferry ride back to Sorrento, continuing to warm things up in Naples on a bustling Sunday morning. Good meals were eaten, interesting tours were taken and some students even went on a swim in Capri’s irresistible, emerald-green waters. All in all it was a great way to send off the summer and step steadily back into Perugia’s brisk, crisp fall air.
This past Friday the Italy of the Imagination creative writing class took a trip to Citta’ di Castello, a nearby Umbrian city, to see the place where manuscripts become books. Umbra professor Cynthia Clough arranged the visit to the the Printing Museum, home of the oldest still-functioning printing presses in Europe (and likely in the whole world).
Gianni Donati, a seventh-generation printer, was the students’ guide for the visit, explaining the transition from early wooden engravings to Gutenberg’s revolutionary movable type, as well as several other processes (copperplate and lithograph). Each took home several prints made with Donati’s century-and-a-half old Wittenberg press. This trip is one of a series of co-curricular trips that Umbra Institute professors use to reinforce concepts learned in the classroom.
The last week has seen a slow creep towards Autumn in Umbria. Heavier blankets have come down out of the attics, and on the Steps of the cathedral (ever the focal point of Perugia’s social life) t-shirts and shorts have been replaced by long sleeves and jeans. It’s hardly dramatic, as Umbria’s sun never goes behind clouds for too long, even in the depths of winter, and to boot Fall in Umbria means gastronomic treats.
Fairly soon farmers will head out with their green nylon nets to harvest olives: the first press in Umbria is almost always extra-virgin level, attacks your palate and makes the olive oil of last year seem drab. Then, in early November, central Italians celebrate San Martino, Saint Martin’s feast day: vino novello and roasted chestnuts are the main event. No more ice cream, but there are some consolation prizes. Buon autunno!
This Tuesday evening, Peruginiand Umbra students alike were treated to a breathtaking performance of the classic French opera Carmen. The performance was staged at the historic Pavone Theater on Corso Vannucci in the center of Perugia, and was put on by the Teatro Lirico Sperimentale “A. Belli” from Spoleto. Bravi!
Umbra students will have another opportunity to see a classical production in a historic Perugian venue in November, when A Midsummer Night’s Dream will be performed at the Morlacchi Theater.
Last Thursday, Umbra students attended a wine tasting at a local enoteca in Perugia. The art of wine production came alive as the expert explained how to pair foods with the wine’s acidity, how to read the labels, and how to use one’s sense of smell, taste, and sight to examine its quality and age. Students sampled three types of wine to judge for themselves whether they found hints of green apple and almond here or honey and blackberry there.
The expert and Umbra students also discussed how weather, use of machinery, and location, location, location impact what goes into the bottles we buy at the store. Now, the next time students share in the bottled traditions of Italy at a dinner party, they can show friends and family how to be knowledgeable wine connoisseurs