All of Brooklyn is bursting into bloom, so why do I feel so sad?
I was very lucky and got to see a dress rehearsal of Mark Morris's production of the Gluck opera Orfeo ed Eurydice this morning. When the beautiful countertenor David Daniels sang about love, I actually wept. I can't remember the last time I cried at an opera. Daniels is a magnificent singer, and even if he projects a rarified, diva air, he gets the job done. The aria "Che faro senza Euridice" ( I have lost my Eurydice) in particular was mesmerizing.
Imagine if this role had been sung by Lorraine as originally planned... Daniels lived up to the task, but maybe Lorraine's loss is what made it extra sad.
April is the cruelest month, and it is almost over. But in Gluck's opera, Orpheus does not die, dismembered by Bacchae. Instead, love wins in the end and he is reunited with his lost bride. At first when I learned it ended happily I was horrified. But when I actually watched it today, I thought the happiness would break my heart worse.
The stage opens, and there is a spot where you can see what looks like actual sunlight pour into the theatre. The famous Met chandeliers descend while the closing music is playing. It's a bit like the end of the Muppet Movie: the ceiling opens and the artifice is revealed. The dancers come out on stage and do rustic peasant dances in beautiful technicolor costumes by Mizrahi. Mark is a genius.
I've always loved HD's poem Eurydice. It is so very, very angry. My favorite part is when she talks about wishing she could have at least had one last glance at the flowers, to memorize them.
Fringe upon fringe
of blue crocuses,
crocuses, walled against blue of themselves,
blue of that upper earth.
blue of the depth upon depth of flowers,
flowers, if I could have taken once my breath of them,
enough of them,
more than earth,
even than of the upper earth,
had passed with me
beneath the earth;
If I could have caught up from the earth,
the whole of the flowers of the earth,
if once I could have breathed into myself
the very golden crocuses
and the red
and the very golden hearts of the first saffron,
the whole of the golden mass,
the whole of the great fragrance,
I could have dared the loss.
At the end of the poem, Eurydice concludes:
At least I have the flowers of myself,
and my thoughts, no god
can take that;
I have the fervour of myself for a presence
and my own spirit for light;
and my spirit with its loss
though small against the black,
small against the formless rocks,
hell must break before I am lost;
before I am lost,
hell must open like a red rose
for the dead to pass.