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Singing in Italy

This summer I visited Florence, Italy interning with a local arts camp through Performing Arts Abroad.  It had always been a dream of mine to go to Italy, and it finally came true.  With so many beautiful sights to see and incredible music to hear, I was so grateful for the chance to stay in a different country for a month.

As an aspiring opera singer and a strong proponent of music education, my internship placement was perfect for getting the most out of my trip.  I took pictures, wrote articles and watched as the students embraced Wagner’s gesamtkunstwerk, or “total art work” with their everyday activities.  The idea of combining theater, music, and art may not be new, but bringing this concept to music education is new.  The students created a full work of art, combining and completing all avenues—they acted in a play, played violin, and created all props for the final show.

Along with helping the children, I performed with the students on three different occasions.  Having string accompaniment is such a treat for a singer, and the students had never before had the chance to play with a soloist.  They were all very excited to accompany a singer, and I really enjoyed singing with them.  The performances included: a concert at the local church for senior citizens and the community, a day performance at the famous Palazzo Strozzi, and a nighttime concert in a beautiful, old garden.

Few people involved spoke English fluently, so I had a challenge that I was willing and ready to take on.  I made friends with Florentines around my age.  It was amazing to feel a part of these students’ lives and families.  At the end of the program, they had a huge party where I was welcomed by everyone and felt right at home.

Maestro, Leonardo, and me

Along with my Italian course at the Florence University of the Arts, internship, and host family, I spoke almost only Italian for the majority of my day. It was exhausting at times, but a great way to advance my conversational skills quickly. In my free time, I visited many cities and sites, including Rome, Venice, and the Italian Riviera.  Wandering around Florence every day, I stumbled upon many unique and interesting spots.

I am so grateful for my experience in Italy.  It was one that I will never forget for the rest of my life.  I learned a lot about myself and gained a greater sense of where I want to be in the future.  Traveling abroad has been one of the most rewarding experiences in my life.

Deanna Grunenberg
Performing Arts Abroad Music Administration Intern
Florence, Italy

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