Sunday, May 06, 2007

Pavarotti I Am Notti....More May Memories

May at our school was a time for processions. Mainly in honour of Our Lady, since our nuns were an Italian order whose patroness was Mary, Help of Christians. Processions were a welcome diversion from class work. Hymns had to be practised, processing had to be choreographed. Reading, writing and 'rithmetic took a back seat for a while. One memorable May, Mother Superior came to visit, all the way from Turin. The nuns were beside themselves with excitement. We practiced all the usual hymns and, since Mother Superior's visit was such a special occasion, we also learned one hymn in Italian. I loved that Italian hymn,even though we didn't have a clue what the words meant.

The big day arrived and we lined the driveway up to the convent and waved little Italian flags and sang our hearts out.

Years later, when we lived in Belgium, we became friendly with an Italian couple. Invited to dinner one evening at their home, I was in the kitchen with Gabriella while the men talked shop. I decided to wow her with my rendition of the Italian hymn from my schooldays, sotto voce of course, so's not to alarm the gentlemen. As I rolled my tongue robustly around those lovely Italian sounds, my friend looked at me with a total absence of comprehension. Turned out, to my everlasting mortification, that I was singing , not in Italian, but in Gibberish!

Now I only sing it in the shower. Gibberish notwithstanding.

13 comments:

Stomper Girl said...

Maybe it was just a dialect from a different region?

But if it was gibberish I wonder if your Mother Superior thought something along these lines:

questi bambini sconosciuti hanno imparato specialmente che un hymn russo per me ed io non conoscono perchè?

(these strange children have specially learnt a Russian hymn for me and I don't know why?)

Liz said...

Thank you for making me snort my coffee!

meggie said...

Burst out laughing! How funny. I suppose you felt quite shocked.
But you are very brave to sing in public...
I used to be in a school choir...I dont know how!

Molly said...

Stomper--you have impressed the socks off me! When We were struggling to become literate in German, it used to blow my mind that little children could get their tongues around it without the least bit of bother. And even a mass murderer is not without charm if he can speak French......

Liz---glad to be of service!

Meggie---I never sang in public, except once , at my best friend's wedding---I cringe at the thought. my little performance in this post was in the privacy of the friend's kitchen. Even the menfolk were in another room...

Stomper Girl said...

Eeerrm..

Well actually I went to one of those translator sites and had it done for me. Outsource! is my motto.

Je parle am pur francais.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Was it at least Gibberish with an Italian accent?

nutmeg said...

Ha ha! This story sent me straight to our car journey of a morning when the diva sings away at the classical hymns my husband plays in the mornings. I mostly understand her but every so often she throws in a word that actually combines a number that she hasn't worked out yet - but the gibberish is so close to the real thing and the tune is spot on and I LOVE it.

riseoutofme said...

I think you should post a photo of yourself from the oh so formative school years ..... I have one in mind actually ..

Tanya Brown said...

I'm with Liz on the coffee snorting. Thank you for the smile!

Tracey Petersen said...

Is the region of Gibber in Italy?

mjd said...

Molly,
Your post makes me smile. I love these glimpses into your life as a child. Undoubtedly, Mother Superior loved the hymn, gibberish or not.

Molly said...

Ladies! I think we probably made sense to Mother Superior. She would have been familiar with the hymn and generous enough to forgive our mangling of the words, understanding that what we lacked in accuracy was more than compensated for by our enthusiasm. It's like the stories, often hilarious, that you hear about childrens' interpretations of the Pledge of Allegiance. Or Frank McCourt's brother, Malachy's, attempt to jump on the bandwagon after the huge success of Angela's Ashes. He wrote a book with a wonderful title---A Monk Swimming. That was his interpretation of a line from the Hail Mary which goes "Blessed art thou amongst women...." Needless to say the title was the only part of that book worth reading.

fifi said...

hello molly!

thank you for calling by my place. I have come to visit you and have enjoyed your stories very much. Funny, I was thinking today about the May processions and how wonderful they were.
Shall post asap about the ole polish guy. heh.

Best wishes

Fifi