Given the sentence below from an Italian song I heard on YouTube:
Gli elefanti vanno a ballare in cimiteri sconosciuti
The a in vanno a ballare to me is completely silent. Note, I referring to the single vowel word a in that phrase (English word to). I cross checked this with the somewhat suspect computer generated voice on Google Translate:
In both cases I literally can't hear the word a at all. Is that just my ears or do Italian speakers completely drop certain single syllable vowel sounds in certain cases? (Note I mean the sound of the single vowel word and not spelling, e.g.- ho sounds to me like just plain o).
I've noticed this phenomenon in several places, especially when one or more single vowel words are strung together and lead into a noun or adjective that starts with a vowel (E.g. - Io ho un uovo, uova, uomini, etc. Here, to me, the ho sound isn't distinguishable but seems to simply make the o in io a little longer).
In some cases it appears like although the single vowel word isn't distinguishable from the syllables surrounding it, but does cause a dipthong-like change to neighboring vowel sounds, and at other times it seems like there's simply a tiny pause added to where the single vowel word sound should be heard, but isn't (audible).
Are there any hard and fast rules here?