Venice / Venizia – July 7, 2012

We awoke to the sound of the bells ringing in St. Mark’s Square at 7 am. Our hotel is just off the square and it is amazing to be so close. I, a self-confessed Chor Leoni groupie, who attends all concerts and three Bard shows a year, have accompanied the Choir of Lions to the City of Lions on their tour.

Peter had cautioned me that this was not first and foremost a holiday. There would be schedules to follow and many events to participate in. I have certainly noticed how flexible the men have to be when dealing with changes to rehearsal times and repertoire. They deal with these changes with nary a cowardly whimper, at least on the outside! They have also shown “lionly” courage when dealing with the sweat and toil in the extreme heat that has followed us on the tour. This is in spite of having to wear concert blacks or tails.

It has been wonderful to hear the men sing in spontaneous situations such as in Sarajevo when they exchanged songs with the hosting choir in a club after a meal and beer. Performing a Bombay Musical number in a park in Zagreb to the amusement and bemusement of the passersby was an unforgettable experience.

Frontliners dance rehearsal in VeniceThis has been a very different visit to Venice for me. Previously, I felt like a tourist but being with the choir and seeing the posters advertising the concert has made me feel part of the musical life in the city. Following the men in their concert dress down the narrow passageways to the church evoked a Venice of the past when secret societies reigned. In the square in front of the church, a spontaneous choreography rehearsal sparked some imitators and a sample of singing made the crowd erupt with loud applause.

It was thrilling to see the posters up all over Venice. The concert given in the Church of San Salvador did justice to the wonderful painting by Titian behind the altar. The audience responded with great applause and appreciation of the program by giving a standing ovation.

One of my challenges has been learning the names of all the choir members. I have also enjoyed learning about their personalities. (The games and antics at the back of the bus have been memorable!)

Diane shows visible pride in the choir and in their being from Canada and her Pride of Lions follow. We saw some lovely Venetian lion masks and it would have been wonderful to present her with one.

All in all, this tour has been part of the Circle of My Life and an unforgettable experience!

Valerie Duma, spouse of Peter Spira

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