Daily Trust (Abuja)

10 January 2013

Nigeria: An Hour of Italian Music

It was an evening of fine music when the Italian Embassy held its Christmas Concert recently.

On 30th December a Christmas Concert held at the Maitama Residence of Roberto Colamine', the friendly Italian Ambassador to Nigeria. The venue was well lit, and all the seats had beautiful bands decorating them, and seemed to promise a good evening even before the event began. Also the handsome flowers that grew all around, apart from lending a pleasant glow and tone to the event itself, almost seemed to rejoice at certain moments.

The BelCanto Ensemble made up of four performers, flew in from Italy for the event, and the audience were entertained for an hour with nice Christmas music which was rendered in Italian, and this gave what was already a little familiar, a sweet, new and truly Italian quality.

Rosaria Buscemi, dressed in a flaming red long gown, which stretched down to her nice shoes that peeped out from beneath the lovely multi layered dress, was the unforgettable star and Soprano that evening. She is clearly a bundle of talent, and used eyes, arms, a swiftly changing posture, and her intensely haunting voice, to underline the dramatic quality of her songs. It is hard to imagine the Ensemble without her.

The red in which she was enveloped, seemed to give the audience courage for the coming year, and she was the life and soul of the concert. Ivan Nardelli blew the flute, Antonio Arcuri played the clarinet, while Alessandro Vuono was on the Piano. The BelCanto Ensemble was making its fourth appearance in the country, and seems to be quite regular during the month of December. Just before the Concert commenced the Italian Ambassador welcomed the guests and drew attention to an Italian National who had been kidnapped off the coast of Nigeria. Thus, even as we enjoyed the evening, we were encouraged to send kind thoughts towards the kidnapped citizen.

The audience sat in a semi circle facing the performers. Some of the songs rendered included Lullaby to the Virgin, Wiegenlied, Stille Nacht, White Christmas and Jingle Bells. Here were soft almost child- like melodies, balanced by racy, vibrant rhythms. There were some songs which were also laced with rich power. Also of note was the pianists mastery of the keys, such that the music created was akin to water gently cascading over rocks. When the Soprano sang, you were clearly witnessing a woman who is in love with her song, and truly likes what she is doing.

The next set of songs drew from great Italian composers such as Rossini, Verdi, Monti and Gounod. Some of these pieces sounded quite sober and melancholic. Others were happy melodies which often ended on a rather cheeky note, ably captured by the Pianist and provoking a swift response from the audience. One thing became clear about Italian or European culture, especially when such concerts are held: the Soprano may leave the stage unescorted, but when she makes a return, a male member of the performers must lead her in, holding her by the left hand. This was rare and very entertaining itself. The audience clapped from time to time, and not simply on account of Rosaria's unforgettable entrance. There was a brief power outage just before the Concert came to a close, but the Italians had a generator ready, and it soon came to life.

Throughout the brief period of darkness, the Soprano sang and the musicians played as though nothing had changed. It was only a common power outage. The concert ended after one hour, and guests were invited behind the tall hedge for a light buffet, where everyone had a taste of some of those little baked delicacies and drinks for which Italy is globally famous. Altogether, the musical evening was a nice way to mark Christmas, as well as leave the old, and usher in the new year.

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