Saturday, April 18, 2009

Experience and knowledge

Last night was a cherished and looked forward to event. Thanks to a dear friend, my husband and I attended a performance of La Boehme by the Nashville Opera.

The performance was lovely --- NOT cataclysmic --- just lovely. It has been years since I saw this opera. Of course, though I have heard the main arias many times, I had not heard the whole of it in years.

I wept piteously the first time I saw it, but with 40 years stretching between performances I was more jaded. I let my experience be framed by my knowledge of the time in which it was written and my adult understanding of opera as "over dramatic and tragic." I rejoiced in the beauty of trained voices flawlessly executing the runs. I rejoiced in the gift of art as I wondered at the beautiful set. I rejoiced that the people in the orchestra pit had worked very hard to master their craft . I reveled in the beauty of the old ladies who had come in traditional opera garb wearing their very expensive gowns and jewels. I rejoiced in the young couple dressed in garb I recognized from my youth --- probably someone else had given them their tickets ---just as Dean and I had received the gift of ours.

I loved talking to the elderly woman next to me whose son was a Navy Seal in Afghanistan. She wanted to know how I liked Nashville. I asked if she had spent most of her life here --- she thought and replied "Well, let me see how old am I?" I laughed and said, “I can see that this line of questioning might be leading in an unanticipated direction! Let me re-phrase it, and pardon my ambiguity!" Once again I failed the Southern Lady TEST by asking a question that could cause someone embarrassment!!!

On the way home we drove through McDonalds. I chuckled thinking of those around us who had probably gone across the street to the grand old Hermitage Hotel for their post opera discussions!!

Sipping my latte as we traveled homeward, I asked my husband (the music PhD person) about his experience. "I always forget how unsatisfying I find late romantic music." Puzzled, I replied,"What does that mean?" He explained that Puccini and other composers at this time were caught in a vortex (my term not his) where they were all trying to find their way into the next big age of music ---- they were pushing the envelope --trying things out --- harmonies that neither work nor break completely from the old conventions. They were fascinated with what they thought of as Chinese forms. These were really only mostly open 4ths and 5ths and actually were more a caricature of Chinese." He paused and sighed, "and then there is that overwhelming sentimentality to contend with...."

So -- I said, "Did you enjoy the opera?" “Oh yes!” Well there it is --while he was sitting there thinking all these deep thoughts -- I was experiencing the moment and not thinking deeply at all. I wonder how my friend would feel to know that her tickets were wasted on a simpleton and an effete opera snob!!?

Monday, April 06, 2009

A Very Red Shard

This shard of the stained glass window is ruby red. The same ruby red of the red carpet on Oscar night!

As with many things we reward children for their hard work and the ultimate successes! Curmudgeons would say that reading is a reward in itself, and I agree. However, for children to reach the point of intrinsic reward we often need a few extrinsic rewards along the way. Reading is complex. It often is difficult and certainly no fun when you are first learning! Which is why I am in favor of what some would call "bribery"!

At our AR Party last Friday children put their stars on the AR Walk of Fame in the Hall. They got individual glamour shots on the RED CARPET where they wore feather boas hats and ties and held a real Addie Award (which one of the parents won)! They sat at festive tables and enjoyed treats-- AND they selected a book or toy of their choice -- no one left empty handed!
It did me good to see the beautiful gowns the little girls wore (last year's Easter dress, or Mama's cocktail dress!) The boys wore their ties and fancy church clothes and suits! We had fun!! Something that is rarer at school than it used to be....