Friday, September 14, 2007

There will never ever be another you


Like when Peter Boyle died, somehow Luciano Pavarotti's death seems unbelievable. Who will be Pavarotti now?

I don't know a lot about opera, I'm getting there, but such beauty and tradition and warmth and goosebumps he gave in his art...You know when you watch/hear something you literally don't understand and yet understand deeply?

My life with opera music began long ago when I watched Fatal Attraction, a movie not for kids but hey I turned out just fine. In the movie, Michael Douglas was with Glenn Close and one or both of them said "I love Madame Butterfly." Years later I was at the antique book/music store in DuPont Circle in DC with other brand-new Howard University freshmen (Sona, Moe, Funmi, and Alicia?) and saw a CD with Puccini: Madame Butterfly - Highlights. The movie people loved this music? Good enough for me. I bought it and have listened a gazillion times since.

I didn't actually go to watch an opera until last year. I saw La Traviata (Futral, Calleja) at the LA Opera, because in Match Point (great movie), Jonathan Rhys-Myers' on-screen brother-in-law delivered the line: it's La-bloody-Traviata.

Beautiful, beautiful, was Traviata - not just the robust voices and the cheesy, simple story line, but definitely the highly stylized acting. The artists communicate so much in the exaggerated poses, the light-and-colour changes, and the actors' painted faces that you don't really need to follow the translations to know belle from prostitute, or love-struck from power-hungry, and ultimately to cry when - all at once - a thousand and one memories soar to the top of your mind on one drawn-out high note, crashing in one rapturous truth - a wave against rock. Lesson learned, opera done, you whisper your thanks and go home. (Maybe you wish you could be the one in make-up serving up drama.)

Soon after, I took a friend to Don Carlo - he loved it a lot more than I did. Another friend thinks I should try Wagner. I'll like to see a couple of more Verdi, and of course Butterfly. Now let me tell you about the people-watching at the opera: rich people, funny fashion sense - that's the basic idea. It beats reading tabloid magazines. Opera houses are often ornate and spectacular, if a little stuffy/snooty and intimidating.

Ask me or call the opera for suggestions if you're poor :) but interested in watching a show or two. Fortunately, you can access the arts on a limited budget if you know where to look. Caltech even has an Opera Club which gives away cheap or free tickets. When you're rich, be cool and sponsor the arts too.

Pavarotti is dead. I dreamt about him once: a benign conflation of The Three Tenors and a bizarre movie trailer in which black men tended large babies. I was probably listening to Rigoletto (Milnes, Pavarotti, Sutherland) a lot at the time.

Read a soothing tribute to Luciano Pavarotti in Time Magazine.
There will never ever be another you.


t said...

I've been meaning to use this music in my blog since July 2006 or's so lovely and sanguine. The CD has been in my collection for years; I went to an Opera Club event once and came back with my arms full: won this copy of Rigoletto because the original winner already owned the same thing, got a free copy of Opera 101 autographed by Plotkin - the author and speaker of the day, a box of assorted giant fresh cookies. Who could ask for anything more?

What's he singing?
Possente amor mi chiama,
Volar io deggio a lei:
Il serto mio darei
Per consolar quel cor.
Ah! sappia alfin chi l'ama,
Conosca alfin chi sono,
Apprenda ch'anco in trono
Ha degli schiavi Amor.
Mighty love calls me,
and I to her must fly:
I would give my crown
to console her heart.
Ah, she shall know at last who loves her
and learn who I really am:
she shall learn that Love counts
among his slaves even those on thrones.

t said...

I love finding blog-connections, like this nice Opera/Pavarotti post on Historelli's Social Club, a nice blog I just noticed. Read the eulogy here

Dwacon said...

Peter Boyle died?

Erik Donald France said...

I saw Pavarotti sing in the rain to Princess Diana in Hyde Park London in 1991. It was beautiful, surreal, heartbreaking.

t said...

Re: Dwacon
I know. Doesn't seem real.

Re: mi Erik