Author: Gayane Simonyan
Walking around in the central part of Florence after 1 pm, you will find Anatoliy and Natalia playing and singing in the streets filling the Florentine air with the sweet sounds of high-class music in different languages.
Natalia and Anatoliy came to Florence from Ukraine. However, their first experience of street singing was in Germany 15 years ago. After staying there for some time, they went back to their country. Seeing that their are not having any success there- street singing is not really welcomed- they decided to try that somewhere else. Not being a fan of huge cities and busy streets, the band decided to move to Florence, which, in their words, is a small, cozy and welcoming city with 370.000 inhabitants- all living as a joint family.
“We got to know each other at the university in Kiev, Ukraine when we were on the last grade. After graduation we started dating and we were both keen on entering the conservatoire but, it was both difficult and expensive and, to be honest, we didn’t have much money,” said Natalia Lopushanska, the singer.
She told that everything started from Anatoliy hearing that people are going abroad, working and earning money there. He decided to give it a try: three months here, three months there. And then he came back and offered Natalia to go with him.
“At first it seemed to be a humiliation to me, I couldn’t imagine myself singing in the streets and living a life like that. He had experience already, but me not. First time in Europe, everything’s new: euro instead of grivno. But then when we started doing that, I could see that people really respect and love you for what you are doing,” said Natalia.
Their main job is singing and playing-they have 2 CDs- but except it they are also working at a restaurant. Natalia is working as a waitress and Anatoliy is, from time to time, playing his accordion there.
“In restaurant you are tied up but we like freedom. I have a mezzo-soprano voice. I can sing Pavarotti - O sole mio, Caruso, Besame mucho, Summertime, etc. Normally I sing in English, Italian, German, French, Ukrainian and Russian. And people are the ones to create our repertoire. Based on their interests and demands and wants, we are searching for songs, copying, learning the music, words and start performing,” said Natalia.
In the beginning it was really hard for her to remember the words especially of Italian songs, but for instance about French songs- she doesn’t speak french, she is just memorizing the words.
“When I sing in English, French people are coming and starting talking to me in English, in French thinking that I speak all of them, but then I have to say sorry but I don’t speak English. The same with the other languages. The thing is that French, Russian, Italian songs I can perform perfectly.” Natalia mentioned.
As for her Italian, it’s conversational- between A2 and B1. When they first came to Italy, they took language courses to be able to communicate and to get to know the accent to sing with.
“People are inviting us to wedding parties: it’s an event normally once in a lifetime and we feel so proud of ourselves when they trust this responsible part to us,” said Natalia.
Natalia and Anatoliy couldn’t forget the story that made them realize that life is not easy in Florence as well, you cannot trust everyone. Before leaving Florence their friends introduced them to a person who then offered them to work for him and give some concerts for New year in Rosetta city in Italy.
We could call police, but we didn’t. His plan worked very well: he earned much money out of the concerts, and just took advantage of the fact that we are without documents, we have nothing here, no one to help us,” said Anatoliy.
Natalia added that it was a good lesson for them. After that she couldn’t sing for a week- she got cold, she had sore-throat.
Anatoliy and Natalia have told that they can’t do that job in every city.
“Of course there are so many Russians in San Marino, we could sing there in Russian but the rules are different there - we can’t play in the street. Here we are a member of a special association where we are all registered, approximately 30 people: musicians, mems. We gather from time to time, talk about our plans, events organized. You can sing without permission but then you might have problems with the police. You need to take permission from comune monthly or annually for 30 euros for each,” summed up Natalia.