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12.09.2013

THE TEST OF TIME AND CULTURE with a spin


There is something remarkable about anything that stands the test of time.  Especially music, literature, art, architecture, culture, nature.  I often wonder what it is about certain things that allow that to happen. Why I wonder do the works of Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plathe, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Wadsworth, Sandburg, T.S. Elliott, Edgar Allen Poe, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, William Shakespeare, Chaucer, or Confucius continue to stand strong, sometimes even stronger, long after their deaths?  What specifically was it about their words, their meaning, their passion to nail a thought, a feeling, a conflict, a longing, a dilemma right out of the century ballpark clear into the ones yet to come?

This Christmas time of year I am reminded again of music that has stood the test of time as well.  George Frideric Handel penned the musical piece Messiah in 1741.  That piece is performed all over the world yearly, especially at the holiday season.  It is a powerful work of music that seems more like a "spiritual opera" than just a static piece of individual movements. 

Whether you believe in God or not, Handel takes you through the state of mankind - separation from God, sin and selfishness, God's redemption of mankind through Jesus, God's son.  And finally he arrives, as he chronicles through this musical journey, to an understanding of our place next to the Creator and redeemer of all things and all people.  It's at that moment in Messiah that we see God's majesty and we get it - ultimately causing us to understand God's great love for us through Jesus the Messiah.  The last movement in Handel's Messiah is probably the most familiar, "The Hallelujah Chorus".  It's a triumphal and epiphanical point of seeing the big picture of life and death - God.

Though written centuries ago, it is still so relevant to the process of mind and heart we experience on a spiritual journey with God.  It is also very majestic, classical and formal in its presentation.

Our local community college performed Handel's Messiah over the weekend.  We went, partly because I love the power of the message, the music, and the stringed instruments (my love and weakness), and partly because my husband Doug had never seen it performed.  I wanted him to connect to something from another century that held such cultural significance some 272 years later.

We live in a very highly populated retiree area of Arizona. Definitely we were among the minority of those under 75 years of age in that college auditorium.  Sitting next to me were two 80-ish year old ladies who were gussied up quite nicely with a holiday flare.  Sitting next to Doug were two other 75-ish year old ladies like-wise dressed up quite classily.  I, of course, had on jeans, a warm sweater and penny loafers [yes Hannah I will not ever stop wearing penny loafers!].  We were sporting the look of our generation indeed!

Messiah began like any classical piece of music would; the choral singers in the back, the orchestra in the middle, the conductor on his podium, and the soloist in chairs in front of the orchestra.  There is that moment of quiet when the house lights go down, the conductor takes his place, the soloists enter the stage that I find myself in such anticipation for the first notes.  It might be how you feel when you are anticipating kickoff of the Superbowl with your favorite team playing.

It began its familiar notes with the guest tenor soloist gracing us with his absolutely beautiful voice and runs.  He was by far my most favorite of the four soloists.  Later in the piece came the baritone.  He was a large rotund man with a beard and wiggly cheeks that jiggled when he got animated or vocally moved through the myriad of runs he was singing.  Nothing against women singers, but typically I much prefer a man's voice! 

Sitting directly in front me [I was in the fourth row.] were the mezzo soprano and soprano soloists.  Both were beautiful women who were wearing beautiful symphonyesque long dresses.  The soprano had on a very form fitting dress in a deep blue-ish black with tank top sort of straps.  It had a bit of drapiness over her d├ęcolletage area.  Both the front and back were cut low. It also appeared, based on the tightness of it and the fact there were no lines of any sort, that she probably had on a full body spank to keep it all pulled in. A formal arm shawl that matched draped gracefully just at the base of her shoulder and came to rest on her forearms.  She looked stunningly elegant and beautiful.


Kudos to those solo performers for having to sit out in front of the whole production at the edge of the stage, a mere spitters pace from the audience.  They sat and tried to not be noticed in their obvious perches.  One couldn't help but to watch them as they sat front and center for the enter 90 minute piece.

After the two men and the mezzo soprano had sung their solos, it was that elegantly beautiful soprano's upcoming solo that I knew was on the horizon. In preparation for her solo, she graciously bent to the side of her chair to get her water bottle.  In doing so, her right dress strap fell down.  No big deal when a strap slips, right.  One just simply pulls it right back up.  

That is not what happened at all.  As the strap fell, so did the whole right side of her dress.  When she righted herself, with water bottle in hand, her strapless/top of her spank was totally exposed fully on her right breast.  [Did she not feel it fall?  Why is she not pulling it back up!!!]   I was mortified for her and wanted to yell out.  She took a full big drink of water, right side of her dress completely off, and then leaned sideways again to put the bottle back.

[Surely now she will notice what has happened!]  She did not.  I counted a full 45 seconds before I finally leaned into Doug to inform him there was a bit of soft porn happening front and center with the soprano soloist.  After a few more seconds, she realized what was going on with her dress.  With all the fortitude someone could garner, she very non-chalantly and with every molecule in her probably screaming the complete opposite of what she was showing, pulled it all back to where it belonged.  The Janet Jackson moment, um I mean full minute was over.

I couldn't honestly tell you what movement in the Messiah that was occurring during that minute of raciness.  Music faded to the background and I watched in utter amusement at how her clothing malfunction had taken a toll on the grace and classiness of Handel's Messiah.

Doug mentioned later that he loved the music, the orchestration, the soloists, and the breast.  Handel's Messiah was a bit more than he thought it would be!


1 comment:

  1. We don't believe in the same things God, but it is a beautiful song - that I'd much rather listen to than the tiresome repetition of Christmas pop favorites, of which there seem to be about 15 total. MI

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