Saturday, October 30, 2010

Heartstrings of the Week: For Grandma

Welcome to today's episode of "When Music Makes Me Cry":

Alright, people. Here it is! My favorite aria of all time...Annnnd, it's story time! Pull up a comfy chair and mug of hot cocoa and here we go:

Once upon a time I had a voice teacher that, when she found out I was a soprano, hooked me up with every operatic aria and art song she could think of. Thus, began my love for opera.

Then, one day after a recital I overheard my dad talking with her about my grandma's love for Puccini's opera Madame Butterfly. "She used to sing it around the house and with her sister," he said, "She had a beautiful voice!" This touched me. My grandma passed away when I was 12 and yet suddenly there was the connection with her that I had longed for - opera. Someone once said,

"Music is what feelings sound like."

From that point on, I aspired to the point in my "vocal career" (if you can call it that) that I'd be able to at last sing, with confidence, THE aria from Madame Butterfly. Arguably, THE most passionate and heart-wrenching aria of all time - "Un Bel Di Vedremo"

Well, the time has come. I nearly cried the day my amazing voice teacher stated, "Oh, you're ready!" Ready to sing for grandma!
This opera is much like the musical Miss Saigon, neither of which I have seen, but I know the music from Madame Butterfly like I know how to breathe. Here is a brief synopsis:

Location: Nagasaki, Japan
Time: 1904

Cio-Cio-San is the heroine of the opera - "Madame Butterfly" to her American Lieutenant, B.F. Pinkerton. Pinkerton is in Japan at war (whatever war took place at that time?) and they fall in love and get married. Her family is completely against the idea and they disown her at her betrothal. Pinkerton then leaves to America but swears to return. Butterfly has his baby, a son, and three years go by. She is still intent on believing that he will return. When, at last, he does return he brings...his American wife with him and they come to take away "his" son. Butterfly realizes this when she sees him coming with his wife and is heartbroken times 10, so she says goodbye to her son and...kills herself.

Yeah, like I said, THE most heart-wrenching and passionate opera ever. This aria takes place as Butterfly is consoling her crying maid (and friend) who believes that Pinkerton will not return. With assurance in their long awaited reunion, Butterfly describes the whole beautiful scene that she's relived in her mind for the past 3 years. It's not everyday you get an aria that translates so poetically, so I encourage you to read this. It's beautiful! Poor, Butterfly.

You're crying? Why?
Ah, faith is lacking in you!

One beautiful day we will see
a thread of smoke rise
on the far horizon of the sea.
And then the ship appears.
Then the white ship enters the port,
roars its solute.
You see? He has come!

I will not go down to meet him - not I.
I will position myself there
on the edge of the hill
and wait a long time;
and the long wait
            will not be hard on me.

And…having emerged from the town crowd,
a man – a tiny speck –
sets out for the hill.
Who will it be?
And when he has arrived,
what will he say?
He will call Butterfly from the distance,
I, without giving answer,
will remain concealed from him –
a bit in play
and a bit so as not to die
at the first reunion.
And he, somewhat anxious will call:
“dear little wife”
“fragrance of verbena” –
the names he used to call me whenever he arrived
All this will happen, I promise you.
Persist in your fear;
I, with sure faith, await him!

I might cry when, at last, I perform this song... for grandma and at the thought of such a tragic tale, but I can't help but love this opera and I think you can see why.

Enjoy the passion!

GAH! Get's me right in the tear duct every time!

 P.S. Thanks to all of you cute people for you kind compliments on my aria video. I really appreciate your loving feedback. Thanks! :)


Shelby Lou said...

I will watch what I think is a video right when I get home. This computer at my work is like, a dinasour. RAWR. No lie. I love that you love opera. My dearest friend was an opera major at USU, until she realized... times are tough. She is the greatest. So are you.


Brandon said...

Oh wow. You have no idea how many mysteries you unfolded for me tonight. I finally understand the meaning of all the songs on Weezer's Pinkerton album. Perhaps you and Rivers Cuomo share the same love for opera.

Thanks for sharing your story with this aria. I think it's funny that she relives this scenario for three years — and it must be tearing her apart — and YET, she still wants to play coy — "a bit in play and a bit so as not to die." What a great line. There's a lot to think about there. Thanks for sharing, Lindsay.

Mary Marantz said...

I love this post!!!

Alycia (Crowley Party) said...

beautiful post :)