Besides rehearsing lost oratorios, teaching masterpieces of classical music, and enduring the rigours of Scottish country dancing, there were some exceptional events this week.
I shared a few drinks (many drinks) with girlfriends whilst grooving to Mike McLean at the Jazz Bistro, drank champagne and celebrated the launch of a history book with my other girlfriends (who happen to be Anglican nuns) and also took my parents to see Wagner’s Die Walküre at the Canadian Opera Company.
How can I find a theme for my blog, in a week otherwise defined by snow, snow and more snow?
Wagner, girlfriends, fathers, booze. These will be my theme.
Perhaps my brilliant, radiant, goblet-baring girlfriends (whom I love) are all, in their way, Brünnhildes? Whether they are nuns, mothers, career women, artist or scientists, they have all made choices – sometimes choices that defy their fathers – but ultimately they’ve followed their chosen path, and embraced the sacred responsibility of celebration.
Seeing Die Walküre with my parents was nostalgic, because way back in 1972 my Mum and Dad took me to see that very same opera in Vienna. Back in those days my parents didn’t have a lot of money, but they managed to take 4 kids to Europe for 3 months. How did they do that? And more importantly, why did they do that?
I suppose in 1972 the Canadian dollar was riding high, my Mom was frugal, and my Dad just decided it was the right thing to do. We were just kids, but all the accomplishments and failures of Western civilization were laid out before our wondering eyes – aqueducts, art galleries, autobahns and amphitheatres; Charolais farms, the Louvre, the Spanish riding school, a WWII concentration camp, – the best and the worst of human history dazzling us and opening our minds to infinite possibilities. That long-ago summer formed our future thinking about the world.
Post-opera this week at breakfast, I read an excerpt from my childhood diary to my parents. We laughed at my awkward prose, my spelling mistakes, and my innocent impression of an extremely weighty opera. Those childish eyes and ears observed what the adults had not, and took the time to record it on paper. So who was the wiser? The experience was not totally lost on a 10-year-old person, so kudos to Wotan and Fricka for hauling the offspring off to the opera.
Meanwhile, at the Jazz Bistro, my Valkyrie girlfriends reflected on more recent experiences. A few of my friends have recently lost their Dads – what I mean is, they’ve died – and it’s rough figuring everything out. You don’t have to be a Freudian genius to understand Wagner’s insights into fathers and daughters, or parents and children. Our own Wotans – our Great Fathers – punish us in their own way for our radical thoughts & willful independence, but by virtue of their wisdom they also conjure magic fire that protects us (for better or for worse, whatever those flames might be) insuring only the greatest heroes can brave those primeval elements, and prove themselves worthy of our trust.
So here’s to all our Siegfrieds, our girlfriends & dads and all that jazz.