In order to write my last post, , I had to revisit the opera scene from the movie Philadelphia, and I’m so glad I did because it brought back memories from my childhood, memories of growing up in an Italian American household where opera flowed as freely as wine and where my sisters and I used to run through the house singing “Figaro, Figaro” at the top of our lungs.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love opera. If you think you don’t, I dare you to listen to Nessum Dorma or Pie Jesu or Summertime and then tell me you don’t!
But before you begin listening, let me warn you - opera can be addictive! I should know because for the past week I have been listening to my favorite aria, again and again, hoping to absorb it into my consciousness even as it remains just beyond my reach. The aria, Un bel di Vedremo, is from Puccini’s “Madame Butterfly,” which tells a story about an American naval officer, Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton, who marries a beautiful, 15-year-old Geisha girl and then abandons her.
In this aria, Madame Butterfly declares that one fine day (un bel di), Pinkerton will return (vedremo) and she will die of happiness, which of course is not exactly what happens. In the recording I listened to, Maria Callas foretells Madame Butterfly’s death with a note so high it screams Butterfly’s pain as she plunges the samurai sword into her abdomen. And even after the last note is sung, the music continues so exquisitely, I must listen to it again because the first three notes (un bel di) are as beautiful as the last.
Now, if you are waiting for me to come up with some moral to this story, I don’t have one - except to tell you that, despite Butterfly’s dilemma, life is good especially when we surround ourselves with the people and things we love, even those that seem to exist just beyond our reach.
My memoir, Dear Elvis, a story about grief and loss can be found at amzn.to/2uPSFtE