Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Advent Reflections

- Rain in December, as we approach the shortest day of the year. It’s evocative, if not delightful, and the plants undoubtedly appreciate it.

- I recently made of poster of a photograph I took of the forest floor on the fringe of the Canadian Shield: baby white spruce, Labrador tea, bunchberry, wintergreen, false lily of the valley. You can see them all, larger than life above the fireplace, clamoring for space and light, yet harmoniously arranged. ( I did clone out a few dead twigs.)

- Which reminds me, it’s a time of death. My old camp director passed away recently. Then the co-owner of the firm where I worked for a quarter-century. (Where did they go?)

- A colleague from camp says, “We should have a reunion.” I say, “I don’t much like my former selves. Wouldn’t want to be introduced.”

- Racquetball. We aren’t as good as we once were. (Don’t play enough.)

- We skip the Bly reading. Sit by the fire catching up on the fate of the Euro.

-Then there’s the Saturday Met HD telecast of Gounod’s Faust. The story has never been good. Marlowe? No. Goethe? No. The gleeful and smug self-confidence of Mephistopheles is boring—the kind of catty naughtiness that jaded theater-goers love to titter at. Faust himself is a shallow cad with a beautiful voice. Marguerite is the best of the lot—simply naïve. She has been criticized for loving the jewels in the box too much. But the jewels provide the “objective correlative” for her brilliant, yet downtrodden, spirit.

It was fascinating to hear the Russian soprano, Marina Poplavskaya, being interviewed during intermission. She not only knows the part well, but embodies it, in so far as she seems to share the romantic faith and hope expressed by the character she’s portraying.

All three of the voices rise about the characters, as is so often the case with opera. The music lifts us above the story-line. Poplavskaya’s music most of all. She’s a believer.

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