Artists gather in the Piazza Della Republica

After an incredible dinner at a lovely little osteria in Florence, Vlad and I were wandering slowly back to our hotel. OK – slowly is all we could do after the dinner we just had.  We were admiring the sights, and laughing at the other tourists as they were trying to herd gaggles of children and keep their sanity.  We empathized, but were glad we weren’t in the same condition.

Strolling through the Piazza Della Republica, we stopped to listen to a street musician playing tired American ballads.  Sounded nice, but a bit pedestrian for the lovely medieval setting.   Then, during a break in his warbling, we heard the voice of an angel in the distance singing Verdi. The Siren Song to Opera fanatics and much more appropriate to the setting.

Piazza Della Republica

Pulled in the direction of this golden voice, we saw a lovely young lady singing to the accompaniment of an accordion. Now we’re firmly in the camp of “play an accordion and go to jail – it’s the law”, but in this case we both decided to make an exception. It was a perfect blend of a mezzo-soprano who had considerable training and a very good musician. She belted out ‘Canzone di Azucena’ as if she was on stage. What’s more impressive, she followed it up with an ‘Ochi Chornye’ in perfect Russian. She had several CD’s on a rack, and I went up during her break and bought two of them. She was that good. She asked me if I’d like to hear anything and I asked her for Shubert’s ‘Ave Maria’. Her rendition was marvellous. Full of feeling and pitch perfect. Andrea Bocelli, meet your younger replacement.

Vlad and I then looked at her CD in the street light, wondering why someone with her incredible talent was singing on a Piazza in Florence. Her name is Natalia Lopushanskaya, and according to the back of the CD jacket, she trained at the National Conservatory of Music in Kiev. Her husband is Anatoly Grischuk, and he’s an accomplished and highly trained musician who plays the accordion only because it’s easier to carry than the piano. OK – I’ll give him that. I wouldn’t want to lug a piano around Florence either. You’re off the hook, dude.

If any of you like opera or good music, I highly recommend emailing this duo for their CD’s. They ship all over the world. email is tolikkiev@rambler.ru. Ask for their Duo and their Firenze Sogna albums.  You’ll be happy you did.

Simon Cowell, where are you when you’re most needed? This girl is better than anything you have on Idol this season! Or last season, or the season before that…..