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Monday, August 08, 2005

Life Imitates Blog

(I should have written this two weeks ago, but so much has been going on... oh well. Here it is anyway.)

When I was in New Mexico a couple of weeks ago, I went to see Ainadamar at the Santa Fe Opera House. I had just finished translating Lorca's Romance Sonambulo. And what turned out to be the opera's subject? Why, Lorca, of course! My mom had chosen the opera because it was a recent work, and therefore cheaper to see.

The Santa Fe Opera House is unique. It is in the middle of a big lonely ranch with only the dry mountains for miles around. Its sides are open so that you can see the lights and the lightning on the mountains at night, and sometimes the rain and snow come in. There is a reflecting pool curving around the edge of the orchestra pit which throws a watery light on the stage and helps the acoustics somehow. I would hate to be in that orchestra pit in winter - they cover it to keep the snow out, but I bet it's still cold.

The opera itself was a mixed bag. There was some excellent singing and memorable music, but the plot was vague, the costumes were boring, the staging was stupid, and the libretticist was a cretin. Seriously, a lot of the dialogue sounded as though it had been transcribed from mouldering Soviet propaganda posters. Once again, Lorca had become a symbol of gay this and leftist that, and scant attention was given to his poetry. It was sad. The scene of Lorca's execution was so drawn out that there was something of a perverse delectation in it. They had Lorca cowering and crying at the approach of the soldiers, which definitely angered me. I don't think that Lorca would have given them that satisfaction. There were ham-fisted allusions to the Passion of Christ, but they didn't add up to a real spiritual insight. Still, there was one scene which managed to catch something of Lorca the poet. Lorca and Margarita Xirgu are in a bar in Madrid, talking about his new play, Mariana Pineda. Margarita congratulates Lorca on writing such a useful political work, but Lorca protests that the play is not political. He sings of how he fell in love with Mariana's statue when he was nine years old, and how her lips turned red in the moonlight outside his window.

I will never be political. I am a revolutionary because there are no true poets that are not revolutionaries. Don’t you agree? But political, I will never, never be.... I am on the side of the poor.

Ironically, Ruiz Alonso had the most stunning music in the opera. When he came to arrest Lorca his voice was like a bonfire roaring in the wind, flickering with innumerable quarter tones. His singing has been compared elsewhere to the call of a muezzin. The song that the chorus kept singing - "How sad it was in Granada, the stones began to cry..." - was good, and I still remember the tune. But someone needs to tell the stage director that if he wishes to have the effect of a Greek chorus, he should eliminate the silly hand motions from the song. These ladies are not in kindergarten anymore, and the song is perfectly comprehensible without the gestures. If the girls in the chorus are going to move at all, their motions should be suitably rigid and tragic. Oh, and put some long sleeves on those black dresses, because it looks really stupid when everyone's arms are all white and bulgy looking:

I wonder if Erik Keilholtz has any opinions about Lorca... or his fiery translator, Roy Campbell - that soldier and maker of satirical epics. It must have been all those broadcasts of Franco they used in the opera that made me think of that question. ::cough::

After the opera there was an amusing incident. My mom spotted a car in the parking lot with a prolife bumpersticker and another sticker that said "I (heart) the Old Latin Mass," and she goaded me into asking the driver where he had found it. (No idea how she managed that...) I went over and peered quizically into his window, and he jumped in alarm. He looked to be a college student, and there were at least two other people in the car, all of the same age. (I'm not sure because it was dark and I was suddenly feeling silly.) The girl next to him convinced him to roll down the window, and I asked him sheepishly where he had purchased his vehicular proclamation of POD'ity, to which he answered, "San Ignacio in Albuquerque." I thought of adding, all in one breath, that I was not a crank and that I had been put up to this by my mother, but I knew that it would be no use. So I thanked him and went back to our truck. (Nor did I tell him that my family is going to move to Albuquerque in the near future, and that we are thinking of joining the parish of San Ignacio! Wow, I wonder if he would have called the police? ^_^ )

All this makes me wonder, though, if that gentleman is one of the parishioners of St. Blog's and I met one of my favorite writers by accident! He certainly seemed like he could be a Catholic Blogger.

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