“See how the clouds melt away/ from the face of the sky when the sun shines, its brightness beaming…./ Who turns the Roma’s day from gloom to brightest sunshine?/ His lovely Roma maid!”
This is part of the chorus (English translation) of Verdi’s opera, il trovatore. This also seems to be the theme of early summer this year around here. Covid, in Canada at least, has begun to be somewhat under control, and we’re getting out and enjoying the lovely sunny weather.
We got introduced to this music when the Canadian Opera Company sent around an email asking if anyone would be interested in signing and recording this chorus at home, and sending it in to the COC to have them amalgamate all efforts into a unified performance. Hmmmm!
Claire is already a musician, and she does this stuff every day, but of course I found it a bit more of a challenge. However, with patience, practice, and Claire’s tutelage, we are now patiently waiting for what we imagine will be quite a fun final product (they asked for video recordings so… if you want to hear and see us sing, stay tuned!). It is, of course, impossible to see live performances of really anything these days, so this company, like many others, is making a commendable effort to keep in touch with their audience.
Sun and song are only part of the theme, however, and arguably not even the most important part! Because not only has Covid disrupted live artistic endeavours, it has also kept many from their loved ones. The test – and testament to the power of love - is almost operatic in many quarters, including our own little corner of life:
My daughter, love’s troubador, has decided to travel to the United States to see The Boyfriend.
What, you say, the USA? Where new corona virus cases are surging daily? Where no social distancing occurred for the president’s Mr. Rushmore July 4th fireworks event attended by maskless thousands, 20 minutes or so from Claire’s ultimate destination? A trip which will require two airplanes and two airports, one of which is America’s second largest such facility? That’s the place, and that’s the case.
Initially, this involved much wailing and gnashing of teeth (I told you, operatic) – on my part at least. Immature! Selfish! Unwise! were some of the more choice adjectives employed in trying to dissuade the young woman in love from her travel plans, to no avail of course. So faced with this drama, what does one do?
Cut back to the opera for a moment: while the plot is a little convoluted and melodramatic, ultimately it revolves around two lovers who are challenged to maintain their union through numerous obstacles; there is at least one aria in which one of them promises to stay true even in the face of death. I write this flippantly because, of course, most opera seems to revolve around the love dilemma (how much must I sacrifice? How long will I stay true?). But why does the theme get written over and over again; why do we listen to it over and over again?
I know the answer to this, as of course do we all. And it is: Who turns the Roma’s day from gloom to brightest sunshine?/ His lovely Roma maid.
Love is the sunshine in all of our lives, if we’re lucky enough to find it. It can be a lover’s love, a friend’s love, a parent’s love, a child’s love. A friend recently told me the story of how her widowed mother, now a very youthful 85 years young, had just found what she claimed was “the love of her life” in Spain, where she typically over-winters (although not this year – I wonder how that parting is going? I’ll have to ask). Love, possibly, never grows old. That sunshine keeps us alive with its Vitamin D is such an obvious metaphor for the thing, I’ll just end my sentence here.
Claire has the luck or the curse, depending on how you view it, of loving well. Of being an extremely loving person. This is expressed through her music and her character. Whoever is loved by her is lightened by sunshine. It’s in her name. And apparently, the same courage (some could say folly) that led my daughter to pursue a career in music is now leading her to live her life for love (some could say folly). But another famous artist once said, “Art must be an expression of love or it is nothing”. Living your life in love, for love, as love, even in folly, is your choice. For some, it is their driver. It can animate, resuscitate, inspire. For those who dare, love must be the expression of their art, as it is the expression of their life.
Spoiler: the il trovatore lovers die at the end. I imagine they thought it was worth it.
And tomorrow the same tale will be written again. My current mantra? “Art does not imitate life, Art does not imitate life…”