Real life trumped reel life on Thursday, and it turns out that Whoopi Goldberg takes second place to Sister Cristina Scuccia.
On Italy's version of the TV show, The Voice, they had their own Sister Act. The 25-year-old nun came on stage and sang an enthusiastic rendition of Alicia Keys' song, "No One," to the four judges whose chairs were turned and couldn't see the performer. The joy of the performance, though, is less the singing than it is the reaction of the judges when they each discover who it was singing. And even if you don't speak a word of Italian -- as I don't -- it's nonetheless impossible not to revel in the joy that continues in the conversation which follows. And it's hard to tell who's more enthralled -- Sister Cristina, the judges, the studio audience...or the sister's fellow nuns -- anad her parents -- leaping up and down in the waiting room.
I do wish the video had subtitles, because there's a lot of enthusiasm soaring around. (Perhaps one will show up eventually.) I did, however, track down some articles that include several quotes.
For starters, there was uncertainty whether she really was a nun. "Yes, I am truly, truly a sister." (She was born in Sicily, and is a member of the Ursuline Sisters of the Holy Family.)
At one point, she's asked what the Vatican might think of her singing. "I hope that Pope Francis will call me now," she answered.
"If I had found you at Mass I would always be in church," said one of the judges, J-Ax. He's an Italian rapper, the one in the knit cap and tattoos. He also added, "You and me are like the devil and holy water."
(By the way, I like how in the article from CNA, the Catholic News Agency, they describe The Voice of Italty as being "a reality show akin to 'American Idol' or 'Britain's Got Talent.'" While it's understandable that they used two especially-familiar shows to explain the program, you'd think they could have also said that it was akin to The Voice. Since that's exactly what it is, down to identical-looking chairs and...well, the design of the entire set, including the giant hand holding the microphone... And it's not like there aren't other versions of The Voice around the world. I know that, at the very least, there's also one in England.)
"I have a gift and I'm giving it to you," Sister Cristina told the judges.
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, posted a tweet (using a hashtag that is apparently trending), writing -- “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others (1 Peter 4:10)”.
It's great fun. Whether it's the best singing performance is a question to decide for yourself, but it's certainly performed with great enthusiasm and done well. And also styles and tastes are different from culture to culture. But what makes this such a pleasure, beyond the lively singing, are the smiling faces that keep beaming brighter as the whole thing goes on.
Okay, Italian-speaking or not, here 'tis --
UPDATE: I have been informed by intrepid reader Caroyln Brown that if you click on the CC button, you'll get a closed caption translation. So much for having had to track down articles...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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