Finding My Place: Music in Milan

Morissa Pepose
February 27, 2016
A Night of Opera at La Scala

            Wow, how time passes when you’re having fun! It is absolutely impossible for me to grasp that I have now been in Milan for almost 7 weeks. I have met so many people, seen so many places, and even celebrated my birthday during this short time here!

            For me, one of the most important and special opportunities I have here in Milan is access to some of the best music in the world. As an aspiring opera singer, living 20 minutes away from La Scala, one of the finest opera houses in the world, is truly like a dream! I have had the privilege of attending 3 performances at La Scala already, with another visit planned for this coming weekend.

            The first performance I attended was with other members of my IES Abroad class on the composer Giuseppe Verdi, who lived and worked in Milan for much of his life. We went to see Rigoletto, one of Verdi’s best-known operas. The performance was absolutely breathtaking, with skilled performers and magnificent sets. And, of course, being able to attend an opera sung in Italian and written by an Italian composer at an Italian opera house…well, it’s just the full package!

            The second performance was a recital given by the Grammy Award-winning mezzo-soprano Walraud Meier. Hailing from Germany, she gave a wonderful concert of Mahler and other German art songs by composers such as Brahms. This recital was very different from the grand opera I had just seen; it was much more intimate and sitting there I felt that she was really connecting to each audience member in a personal way.

            And, finally, I had an exciting opportunity to attend a dress rehearsal of another Verdi opera about to go up at La Scala called I Due Foscari. This opera tells the story of a Duke and his son in Venice in the 15th century…I won’t tell any more spoilers, but let’s just say that neither the son nor the father have very happy endings! I was struck by the performers during this dress rehearsal and how raw their emotions seemed; I really felt despair with the characters during their troubles.

            And, after reflecting upon all of my musical exposures so far in Milan, I’ve realized that the feeling I’ve felt overwhelmingly is one of being at home! There is something about sitting in a theatre, with every other excited audience member, waiting for the lights to dim and the curtain to go up, waiting to be transported to a different world for a little while and to observe the real wonders that we as human beings can achieve…there is such a universal beauty in this feeling for me! And whether I am sitting in La Scala here in Milan or in a theatre back in the United States, I can feel at home with the help of the universal language of music. 

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Morissa Pepose

<p>As an aspiring soprano opera singer, it is very clear why I chose to study abroad in Milan, the very city which houses the famous La Scala opera house! From St. Louis, MO originally, I currently study voice performance and Italian at Brandeis University near Boston, MA. I am an avid reader, dessert-enthusiast, and enjoy animals and taking leisurely strolls where I happen upon interesting people and places to explore. I am a triplet (with 2 brothers!) but am excited to be on my own, meeting new people and learning a bunch from locals and other students!</p>

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