“Young soprano Elizabeth Gentner…has a supple, full-bodied voice perhaps better suited for a larger venue, but displayed a confidence and command of comedy unusual in a performer at such an early stage in her career.” ~Kathleen Whalen, Daily Republic Correspondent
Franco Corelli sings “E lucevan le stelle” from Puccini’s Tosca
This is the aria, sung by the man, from the opera.
It can bring me to tears before the clarinet finishes its first few notes. I know every word, every note and every breath. I’ll never sing this, myself. I know how this story ends. I know how it started. It makes me cry, every time.
He’s a painter and a political rebel, she’s the reigning operatic superstar of her time and they love each other. She’s absurdly jealous. He’s dangerously impulsive. They know the flaws and joys of being genuinely in love with a real person. A corrupt politician throws the lover’s world into chaos because of his own lust. The lovers are threatened with torture, rape and murder. He’s locked in a cage awaiting his own execution, and he sells his last material possession to send her a letter.
You see, he thinks he’s lost her… That moment is the most telling. That singular moment when he thinks he will never see her again. That’s how you know what he really thinks, what he really feels… Well, at least, that’s what the storybooks say….
The suspended agony, the revelry in the moment is something uniquely operatic. In “real life” this is a breath, a fleeting memory. In operatic theater, this is beauty, pain, pleasure, hope, loss, anger, irony, desire and so much more. These conflicting sensations vibrate the air in suspended animation for performer and audience alike to feel. We hear our very humanity ringing in the air.
This and other moments like it are why opera has been my life’s work. It gives us more than the 3 dimensions that life offers us regularly. Opera demands that time itself hold still, while we revel in awe at Love.
I hope you all have a wonderful Valentine’s Day! Enjoy what you have and who you have and revel in your own fleeting moments.