A Night at the Opera

IMG_0184June 14- Repose of G.K. (Gilbert Keith) Chesterton

I always wondered what it would be like. In high school, I had a crazy Latin teacher who actually took all of us guys to Tosca, but the sub-title projector was broken so all that we understood of the story was that some guys were all after the same women and they were really disgusted about it. Tonight, though, my oldest daughter and I got our first taste of  well done opera that we could understand.

Every year the Boston Early Music Festival performs a centerpiece opera that is recently revived from the Baroque period of classical music. This year’s opera Almira features a love triangle involving a newly crowned Queen (Almira) and her many exotic and mysterious suitors. The one whom she really loves (Fernando) seems both to love someone else and not to be worthy of her love because of his orphaned, common status. Nevertheless, married love triumphs in the end and reveals many unexpected things about all the characters, unbeknownst at first to the noble Queen.

Ulrike Hofbauer and cast (Kathy Wittman photo)

Besides the extravagant costumes and elegant sets that always accompany an opera production, this particular story had many wonderful subtexts. Constantly lovers would sing of their good intentions to “find a safe harbor” in the bosom of their beloved. Other metaphors from life on the sea portended the surprising plot twist and ending character revelations. And the conclusion of the opera invoked many images of voluntary and involuntary servitude, proclaiming finally the chains of married love to be “blessed chains.”

It left my ears ringing also with the words of my blessed spiritual father G.K. Chesterton (on this 77th anniversary of his repose):

Love is not blind; that is the last thing that it is. Love is bound;
and the more it is bound the less it is blind.

Orthodoxy, Chapter 5

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