I have a musical background: Went to Oberlin College (though not in the Conservatory) as an undergrad 1965-69, did chorus and some leads in lots of Gilbert & Sullivan, sang in many choirs and a few local operas, went nuts for Wagner in my early twenties, then heavily into Bob Dylan, played many instruments from fourth grade on, and so forth.
So from time to time, music’s the topic.
Today in particular, let’s consider Andrea Chenier by Umberto Giordano.
Two days ago, I netflix’d this worthy DVD, featuring Placido Domingo in top form, Anna Tomowa-Sintov as his lady love, and a great cast otherwise. Watched Acts 1 and 2 one evening, 3 and 4 the next.
In Act 1, the poet-tenor has such an overwhelmingly romantic aria to Love that it sweeps all before it.
He’s obsessed, but it’s a magnificent obsession.
I liken it to having a vision of what-can-be and, by sheer force of will, making it so. Crazy obsessed!
In a similar vein, the tenor has been swept up into jail and a date with the guillotine by Act 4, and the soprano decides she’ll join him in death by doing the old switcheroo with a condemned woman.
Then the two of them sing an overpoweringly romantic duet to death and love (yep, a liebestod), and how being tumbreled away to the short sharp shock of the dropping blade will unite them forever in a glorious death.
Again, what struck me was the determination, by force of will, to make it so.
Most of us avoid thinking about our final moments on earth, or if we do, it’s with dread and loathing.
But here are two characters focusing a magnificent positive energy on that very moment, anticipating it with joy.
What a rush!
(Of course, I prefer to leave it on the stage. :^))