15 March …
Yesterday was our monthly trip to the retinologist. Nothing new. Weather was fine. Shopping went well with the exception of George’s failed “treasure” hunt for an obsolete heater part.
Tonight is the monthly radio meeting.
Keep moving and they’ll have trouble catching you.
Last weekend was Purim. My chosen sister used to be the pocket lady at her Temple’s celebration. But with her children grown and grandchildren spread, I’m not sure she does that anymore. Guess I’ll ask.
Hamentaschen are a longtime part of Purim and I really like them … light, sweet, and short. I baked some (although I was more careless with shaping than in the past) … prune Hamentaschen … yummy.
They disappeared before I got a picture so you will have to imagine how they looked.
Last saturday as I listened to “La Traviata” by Verdi, listening triggered some thoughts.
George and I agree it is, in our opinion, the opera with the most listenable arias … “most” in that there are more of them as well as that the ones it has are pleasing. It starts with the drinking song in the first act, rises with Alfredo’s paean at the beginning of Act II to their wonderful life , proceeds through the conversation between Violetta and Alfredo’s father, and continues on to the final act with the reunion and subsequent death.
I left out so many. I can only suggest you suspend your kneejerk reaction to opera (I had it once … I clearly remember wobbling my finger against my larynx while holding a high note pretending to be a diva) and just listen someday.
Another thought concerned Violetta’s profession … that of a courtesan, a traviata. In Europe being a “courtesan” was a lot more than being a prostitute or mistress. To hold that position one had to be educated and knowledgeable. Great beauty was not a necessity as long as you met the cultural requirements. Like the geishas and flower women of the Far East, a courtesan had to be able to speak intelligently on any subject. She had to show “class” by setting a perfect table and hosting “salons”. She had to be an asset to her sponsor and compliment him by proving his intelligence as well as his social position and his cultural taste.
And she had to be supportive as well as available. These women were often more of everything than the women in arranged marriages.
America never had these women, thanks (in my opinion) to our Puritan ancestors. There were dock women in every port and crib women on the frontier, but those women were un- or undereducated poor women with no choice who lived on the edges of society and whose only role was to be the means of relieving sexual tension.
Violetta was not a hooker.
And the last thought was about the current staging. More years ago than I care to remember, I knew a woman who did design for a fairly well-known theatre in the San Francisco area. Once she was doing a production of “The Importance of Being Earnest”. Her design was to have everything on stage, costumes as well as the set, in only black, white, and shades of grey. The eye catchers were spots of the brightest yellow available … such as the lining showing through slashed sleeves (the setting was the Victorian era of balloon sleeves and bustles and HUGE hats), a bow tie, a large flower in a vase, a ribbon or a feather here and there … but you get the idea. Not a lot. Not more than two or three on stage at one time. No overwhelming presence. Small attention grabbers here and there.
I did not see that production, other than in my mind, but the idea impressed me.
Years later I was involved in a photographic project and suggested the same use of black-white-grey with splashes of colour.
Most of the resulting photographs were real eye-catchers.
One of me (which didn’t make it into the finished project) is a favorite of mine.
How this fits into this discussion of “La Traviata” is that the current Met production takes place in a modern time on a minimalist set in stark white relieved only by shadows. The costumes are all white or black with the exception of Violetta who wears a simple dress in the brightest RED available.
The current production is visually interesting. However, I think I prefer a setting in the original time … the Paris of Alexander Dumas.
But that’s enough opera thoughts for now.
Next week is “Guillaume Tell” by Rossini … and I have a couple of stories about that.
My oh my … I seem to have blathered on at great length so here’s a final thought to ponder …
The moment you start acting like life is a blessing, it starts feeling like one.
… and a thought from Yeats …
.. so …’til next week …