“Torna a Surriento,” performed by Ashley Marie Slater
Neapolitan classic “Torna a Surriento” hardly needs any introduction. The song, composed by Italian brothers Ernesto and Giambattista de Curtis, is arguably the most popular example of the canzone napoletana genre. It has been interpreted by artists as popular and influential as Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Luciano Pavarotti, Enrico Caruso, Dean Martin and Jerry Vale, to name just a few. Our very own Ashley Marie Slater, American soprano and member of the talented “Voices of Silversea,” pays homage to this stirring ode to the unforgettable town of Sorrento.
A member of the Voices of Silversea since 2014, Slater grew up on an idyllic farm in upstate New York where she developed an interest in classical music and singing. “I was lucky to have a lot of support from family and teachers in pursuing music as a career,” says the young soprano, who went on to pursue and complete a bachelor’s degree in Vocal Performance from the Crane School of Music in Potsdam, New York. “Performing was my passion and it took me to Italy where I lived for 5 years, continuing my training in opera, singing in productions, doing a lot of recital work specifically focusing on art song and performing with historical instruments, and enjoying la dolce vita italiana,” Slater reminisces.
The opportunity to work for Silversea came up after she auditioned in Rome with Marc & Michelle from Luna Rossa Productions. “It was the chance of a lifetime that I could not refuse! The opportunity to travel the world doing what I love most was an absolute blessing and I jumped at the chance,” she adds. Slater would become part of the very first Luna Rossa cast on Silver Wind and has remained with the company ever since.
Why did you choose Torna a Surriento?
“Torna a Surriento” means a lot to me both personally and professionally. Personally, it represents my connection with Italy: the time I spent there, the unending beauty and endless places to discover – each more breathtaking than the next. And of course, all the wonderful people I met and the friendships I formed there. I miss it every day and still try to remain present in Italy’s current affairs and maintain the relationships with my Italian friends.
Professionally, it also means a lot to me because I used to sing it quite often at the Venetian Cocktail Party on the Silversea vessels and it’s a song that I absolutely love to perform. The sweeping lines and Neapolitan dialect are so much fun and of course the message of the song – Come Back to Sorrento – is something we all hope to do as soon as possible! I visited Sorrento on my own while living in Italy and then I was able to go back many times on one of my summer contracts on Silver Whisper and it is an extremely memorable and beautiful place for everyone. So here’s hoping that travel will resume again soon and we can all torna a Surriento!
What are some of your musical influences?
My greatest musical influences are Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and my Italian voice teacher Michaela Sburlati. Mozart’s operas were the first operas I ever heard on a CD and they opened up an entirely new world to me when I was a teenager and the love affair with his music has never ceased. If I could go back in time and meet anyone, it would be him.
I’ve also been very lucky in my life to study with and be formed vocally by the Italian soprano Michaela Sburlati. It has been my greatest privilege to study with her during my years in Italy. Not only is she a spectacular singer, teacher and musician, she is an exemplary human being and I am eternally grateful. Grazie Maestra!
How long have you been one of the Voices of Silversea?
I was in the first Luna Rossa Cast which embarked the Silver Wind in October 2014. It’s been a pleasure to have done many contracts since then on various Silversea vessels. I also have enjoyed being a part of the premiere of many of the new Luna Rossa shows. It’s always fun to workshop the new shows in London and then perform them for the first time for Silversea’s audiences and enjoy their success.
Is there any particular Silversea ship or destination that you most enjoy?
I’m quite partial to Silver Whisper because most of my contracts have been on that ship and, of course, the beloved World Cruise! I’ve done three World Cruises and have made so many wonderful friendships with guests all over the world. It’s fantastic to return to “work” and find a family of guests who love and support you. The Mediterranean cruises are so interesting because you can visit many European countries in such a short time, all rich in history, architecture and of course….great food and wine! I’ve visited 110 countries and some of my other favorites (there are almost too many to mention…) are Japan, New Zealand, Vietnam, Russia and the islands of Moorea and Bora Bora in French Polynesia.
How does it feel to perform on a Silversea cruise?
Performing on Silversea has taught me so much and shaped me immensely as a performer. When I started out, I came from a background of performing operatic roles and singing song recitals and oratorios. I had some experience with other genres and dance, but my real forte was delivering a classical aria. I’ve been so lucky on Silversea to perform in the productions shows which cover various genres, thus pushing my limits and developing myself as an artist and learning from my talented colleagues. I was also given the freedom as a performer and artist to develop my own shows and I’ve performed classical recitals with the onboard pianists, operetta and operatic evenings with fully staged scenes, duo shows with one of my fantastic tenor colleagues and I even branched out and did my own cabaret/comedy style shows and it has given me an immense amount of personal and professional satisfaction.
Once travel resumes, where do you look forward to visiting?
I’d love to return to the Philippines and continue my vacation there. I flew there after disembarking the Silver Muse in March for a three week adventure, but it was sadly interrupted by the pandemic and I had to leave the country as soon as possible and come home. I was still able to complete my PADI scuba certification while I was there, but I’d like to return and visit some of their world renowned dive sites. The other places I am planning to visit (all with Silversea colleagues) are Machu Picchu, the gorillas in Uganda and Cappadocia in the interior of Turkey. Some of my colleagues have become lifelong friends and like me, they are excited to continue to explore the world and experience everything it has to offer. I’ve been so fortunate in this life because music and performing have given me so many opportunities to experience our world… and what a beautiful world it is!