I had the opportunity to discuss the upcoming Carnegie Hall performance with media about composer Zhihua Hu's song entitled, "An Italian Poem." It seems that I am often asked to sing many ballads, art songs, and arias having to do with themes of romantic love, but infrequently about the theme of 'friendship.' In fact, so much of our media, movies, literature, and the like seem to focus on themes of romantic love, forgetting that there are other types of "love." I am reminded of a book I once read by C.S. Lewis called "The Four Loves." The book takes readers on a journey by exploring the nature of love utilizing the four different definitions used by the ancient Greeks: Agape (charity), Storge (brotherly affection), Philia (friendship), and Eros (sensual).
According to Lewis, Agape is the most perfect form of love. To artistically interpret a song in which two friends find themselves in each other's dreams, though living miles apart, reveals just how deep a soul can be connected to another. To sing about the seed of all relationship, that is, friendship, is a rarity and I am excited to have such an opportunity to express Ms. Hu's contemporary song which encompasses a fusion of both Italian and Chinese cultural influences. For me, Ms. Hu's "An Italian Poem" is like singing a small little opera.