Wednesday, June 24, 2009

In the Name of Love

Così is sold out. Has been for weeks. A donor gave back a pair of tickets, though, and we're holding a contest to give them away. The tickets are for closing night, Tuesday, 6/30. If you want them, all you have to do is go to the Hotspot and tell us about the craziest thing you ever did in the name of love.

(Click to play slideshow.)

Me? Well, I'm far too boring to have ever done anything even remotely crazy for love. But it's been an interesting week with my Mozartean friends, and I gave my all to try to understand what all the fuss is about.

The real singers protraying the six people onstage have been amazing - going from strength to strength as they work through this most thorny of singing and acting assignments. (Don't let anyone tell you Mozart OR comedy is easy.) I've enjoyed their company immensely and have been amazed at their energy, talent, humor, and generosity.

It's those other people with whom I've had an "interesting" time. Fiordiligi, Dorabella, Ferrando, Guglielmo, Despina & Alfonso. Depending on what kind of day I'm having, they either amuse, intrigue, bumfuzzle or infuriate me. (The latter being my reaction when I'm cranky and just want them to grow up.) The first act is always fun, but the second half's adolescent overreactions wear thin when my mood is dicey to begin with.

Get a grip, ladies. Man up, guys.

This is not my typical reaction to these folks, and I'm afraid that it probably comes from getting older. (Yes, folks, I had a birthday this week, and I'm feelin' it:)) It's also about trying to reconcile the depth and strength of these young people's musical and dramatic actions with the actual subject material. No one died, nothing tragic happens, yet these folks go at it like it's the end of the world. And I guess that's the point. It is, for them.

I don't know what your long term memory is like, but mine is nonexistent. I retain nothing of what it must've been like to be a teenager in love. So empathy is hard to come by. I watched my own teenagers suffer, and I love them, so I tried to sympathize. But I don't truly understand.

Mozart was 34 when he wrote this opera. Young, for us, but more than middle-aged for the time. Certainly not an hysterical teenager. But while he wrote Così, his 25-year-old wife (pregnant for the fifth time...) was away from him. And he wrote her letters that repeatedly implored her not to cheat on him.

For me, in the middle of my stable, unremarkable middle class American existence, the potency of the emotion lavished on wondering whether or not Fiordiligi and Dorabella will fool around with other guys is over the top. But I guess for Mozart (and most certainly for the colorful Da Ponte, a Jew who became a priest then took a mistress and opened a brothel, and eventually became a grocer and a professor at Columbia University...), these things were life and death. Mozart wasn't stretching. Or amplifying or exaggerating. He just got it.

The 19th century had huge issues with this piece, and although we don't have the identical ferocious opposition (and we do have an even deeper appreciation for the genius that was Mozart), we still have our own distorted lens through which we sometimes see Così. A casualty of the age of irony, I guess. Alfonso excepted, these characters don't do irony. And God bless 'em, they do get hurt. And when they sing about it, Mozart tears our heart out.

There's a slight twist near the end of our production - one that I accepted but didn't really understand until tonight. I spend most rehearsals multi-tasking - answering email, taking notes, taking photos, doing paperwork. So I never really developed good traction it until tonight. But now I have to say that I don't ever want to do it any other way :) Not all of you will agree, but it certainly is great good for thought.

So.... what's the craziest thing you ever did in the name of love?

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