First of all, today was Mel's (one of my students) birthday, so some of us went over to her house for a little while after classes. There was mate, desserts, good conversation, and pigs in a blanket. All of these things were wonderful, but I do have to say that I never expected to see pigs in a blanket in Argentina.
Happy birthday, Mel!
Anyway, that has nothing to do with the main point of my post.
About a week ago, one of my teachers gave me a ticket to a choir concert that was tonight. The choir, the Coro Delfino Quiricci, came to Río Cuarto for free under the auspices of the Rotary Club International to give a concert in honor of 25 de mayo, one of Argentina's two independence days. Part of the earnings went to the local library, Mariano Moreno, which is currently in shambles. I may make part of my Fulbright project helping to popularize it and bring it up to speed, because it's beautiful inside.
The concert itself was interesting in that it was divided into three sections, each paying homage to a different country. The first was Argentina's old colonizing friend, Spain. Second, they dedicated a section to Argentina, and they ended with Italy. All in all, the movements weren't anything impressive, but hey...the choir came for free and did a pretty decent job.
There were some things about this performance that were different from other choral and operatic performances that I had previously seen. In first place, the concert was being transmitted live on the radio, so periodically the announcer would come out and boom different Spanish introductions and compliments into the microphone. Second, the instrumentation was a little bit different than anything I've ever seen. You have your cello, your piano, sure, but they also had recorders...which I haven't seen since my friend Carmen played one through her nose on top of a bar a few years ago. I also noticed that rather than bring other instruments (such as a harpsichord or something else that may not even exist in a 300-mile radius), they used an electric keyboard. It made the sound a little wonky, but hey, you work with what you've got.
Another thing that was a little different was the use of props. I had never seen props used in a classical, choral concert, but there I was, sitting in the audience, watching a morbidly obese soprano put a plastic flower in her hair and sing while clutching a bundle of hay. It certainly created an atmosphere. Later, a man came out and starting singing in a black bowler-esque hat. The song was in Spanish, but I didn't get all of it. Something about "the ladies love me, yadda yadda yadda." It was pretty catchy, though.
The concert was short, only lasting around an hour. At the end, the man did a reprise of his lady-killer song, and to my surprise he went and grabbed one of the choir girls (who definitely had no idea he was going to do that) and started spinning her around and dancing as he sang. That's one thing I like about Argentina: It's spontaneous, and it's alive. It may have a ridiculous bureaucracy and never get anything done at a reasonable pace, but at least its people know how to live and enjoy themselves.
That's all for now. Next week is my birthday, so you can expect a lot of drunkenness.