Sunday, January 25, 2009

inspiration at the opera

an unexpected occurrence, indeed. not for lack of beautiful music, of course, but opera plots are reputably wild and obscure.

today's performace of haydn's orfeo was unstaged, consisting simply of orchestra and voice. this arrangement could easily have allowed a divorce from plot if one did not follow the translated text. at times they seemed indifferent, perhaps– the plot acting as a vehicle for the musical composition. I personally believe in this instance the simplicity allowed the beauty of the music and the voices to dominate the performance, rather than theatrics or plot.

however, i made a discovery. i was ambivalent to the plot itself, but it was the words which aroused my inspiration. first of all, italian is a language dear to my heart given my experience in italy, and when sung by this caliber of voices it channels the divine. secondly, a fact so often overlooked is that these composers were also poets. haydn was indeed a poet with carefully crafted and delightfully descriptive lyrics. his sensitivity to the consequences of love rings true.

here are the excerpts i enjoyed the most:

Thought is concerned with objective;
every desire stems from them.

We are governed by our affections,
and yet claim to be free.
So a bird will spread its wings
and think that it can fly,
when the unfortunate beast is tied
by its foot, all unknowingly.


One can love even in old age
when the hearts are those of lovers.

True love never alters
when it rules the heart.


Closed are the beautiful
eyes full of lovelight;
their splendor
now gleams among the stars.


One who lives but does not hope
for love and love's delight–
it would be better to be dead
than living thus.

The sense are sharper,
the joys more intense,
of one whose days are spent
in the arms of love.


Hope is nothing but a siren song


Constancy you ask of me?
Ah, before the constancy
and ardor of my loving heart desert me,
the stars will be snuffed out,
the sun turn to ice,
shadows radiate light, the sky turn dark!
The beauty that set my heart on fire
has made my heart invincible.

perhaps it was the romance of attending "the opera", or the magnificent quality of music... but my belief in love resurfaced. my numbness to the idea of ever being able to know that feeling again– or even want it– melted away. not completely, for i have not yet found it. but i believe in it again.

thank you, joseph haydn, for writing this masterpiece of music and poetry and for waiting 60 years to have it performed. it was worth it... for all of us.


Blogger Breadwild said...

Ever wonder why Germans wrote Italian operas?

11:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wait...any thanks to your beautiful host? :)

12:18 PM  
Blogger .sc. said...

@Anonymous: this entire post is a tribute to the beauty and kindness of my hostess :)

1:16 PM  

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