The Wisdom of Others
Concerning Opera

"Any great work of art . . . revives and readapts time and space, and the measure of its success is the extent to which it makes you an inhabitant of that world -- the extent to which it invites you in and lets you breathe its strange, special air."

~~ Leonard Bernstein (1958)

"An opera begins long before the curtain goes up and ends long after it has come down. It starts in my imagination, it becomes my life, and it stays part of my life long after I've left the opera house."

~~ Maria Callas (1981)

"Flirting with Felicity and Turandot"

Isn’t there something oxymoronic
about an exhausted insomniac
who purportedly gulps green tea
and Vitamin C to keep herself alive,
also setting her hair aflame
trying to light her tenth cigarette
before sunrise on the gas burner
because she couldn’t find a goddamn
match and it seemed like a reasonable
thing to do at 3:00 a.m., not to mention
there was no one around who loved her
enough to tell her not to stick
her face in the fire?

I have no inkling as I sit here matchless,
weeping idiotically to Nessun Dorma
like every other isolated imbecile
who has wept before and will wail
after me -- the volume loud enough
to make ears bleed.

With all due respect, screw you, Puccini –-
how dare you try to convince
the involuntarily chaste who do not sleep
that d’amore is the artless answer
to the riddled riddle, with an aria
more resplendent and transcendent than god
climaxing in the background?

Music is the match in Turandot, isn’t it?

All’alba vincero!
Vincero! Vincero!

Lines more convincingly delivered
by a singing Italian tenor in the Fobidden City
than a singed Italian soprano, crazy in her kitchen,
making spurned advances toward love and/or death –-
she no longer cares which –- before dawn.

© 2000 MJM

Abridged version featured in Oct/Nov 2000 edition of Eclectica Magazine, [V:4, N:4]


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