“Some voices are like the intensity of a flame,
Leaving us never ever to be the same…
Some voices make our hearts yearn to prance,
Awakening understanding like the brilliance of a dance…
Some voices are filled with a whispering wisdom,
Enchanting us with enlivened optimism...
Some voices make the sky divine as a whole,
And blanket majestic rainbows over our eager awaiting souls.” JM
“Horses are regal and quite sleek,
Loyal, but not really meek,
Though, preferring their own kind,
They’re not opposed if they find,
That they have to be ridden
By Father, Mother and children.
Loping down the wide trails,
High winds lifting their tails,
They are happy when one
With their family in fun,
Then they pause for a rest
And, if luck serves them best,
At a clear and lush lake,
Where they all can partake
In apples with pulps,
And water in gulps
And a picnic full of surprise.
And without much surprise,
They give thanks they’re alive,
Then they go for a swim,
With much splashing and vim,
Just charging the lake,
Horses also partake,
In the greatest display,
Of the greatest of days,
Then home they all go,
Horses, family in toe,
And it’s back to their digs,
House and barnyard with pigs,
Horses happy as pie,
To be able to lie
Upon piles of fresh straw,
On which sometimes they gnaw." JM
"Laughter is a medication for the doldrums and blues,
To say nothing of its adding to life’s beautiful hues.” JM
"What He and Mary experienced,
Was it not sweet above all secrets,
That He, a little pale still from the grave,
Went to her first, wholly resurrected,
And they were unutterably united in healing...
They had no need to touch each other firmly,
As He laid his hand on the mother's shoulder,
And they began quietly, infinitely together,
Their enduring and close communion,
And eternal consolation." JM
"Giraffes are statuesque and very tall,
Quite the towering creatures over all,
And it’s easy for them to eat off the treetops,
As often the trees stop at their very knee tops,
Making Giraffes quite honestly more complete,
As other animals simply cannot compete,
Plus, there’s a gentleness that all Giraffes do have,
Ever protecting themselves and their very young calves,
As they lope along in the rather hot sun,
Jaunting and prancing and having such fun,
Always with a glint of when to slow down
To graze awhile, so their babies can lounge,
And, though Giraffes are aware that lions might abound,
Giraffes are so tall lions are seldom around,
And Giraffes have a coloring that is impressive too,
With lots of brown spots against a yellowish hue,
Creating interest and, in additional to their size,
Giraffes have the biggest, most extraordinary eyes,
And this makes magnificence in stunning extremes,
So quite the reason to accept that, which does seem
To be living proportions, really massive in glory,
Displaying a unique presence, which tells a unique story,
And then one notes the walk of these creatures,
Mannequin-like and majestic in their magmanimous features.” JM
"Wolves are really dogs of the wild,
Intense and cunning, they are not very mild,
But they love the family and just to commune,
A custom to which humans should more strongly attune,
And, as Wolf babies are raised by the pack 'aunties' too,
There is always a babysitter when things are to do,
So the Wolves run the wilds, mostly in packs,
Cornering their prey before they move 'in' for attack,
And it seems to us that this is really quite cruel,
But it is their way and they must live by their rules,
Plus, it shows us how they help each other out,
Always communal effort, with a designated scout,
A designated leader, chosen by the whole group,
Who acts on its behalf and his own behalf to boot.
And when the leader cannot contribute his own stack,
He is ousted completely from the rest of the pack,
And must go it alone, making a life for himself,
Which shows his own strength, a gift in itself,
And sometimes that way he proves again his own worth,
And another pack asks him to fill out its girth,
So it proves the saying: ‘May the very best win,’
And Wolves clearly show this, with their pack rules therein." JM
Mary & the Wedding
"Could she be anything other than proud of him, he who beautified the simplest of things for her?
Was not even the high, universal night beside itself with joy when he was born?
Had the wisest men not exchanged their mouths for ears, and was the House of Worship not like new with his voice?
Had she not, hundreds of times, restrained showing her pride in him by choice?
But, at that Wedding Feast in Cana, as unexpectedly there was no wine, she looked to him with request...
One wondrous gesture, she felt, and she did not understand that he seemed to protest..
And then he did it...
She understood later, how she had forced him to do it...
He was really performing wonders and his whole sacrifice was irrevocably predestined...
It stood written...
Was it already fated at that time of the wedding?
She felt she had brought it about in the blindness of her proud vanity...
At the table full of fruits and vegetables she rejoiced with the others...
She did not notice...
The drops of her joyous tears had become blood,
with this wine so wondrous." JM
"In the spring Bears want to be at their best,
So in the winter Bears like to take a long rest,
And to themselves a while they do keep,
Those Bears, then, really very, very fast asleep.
Motionless, and all steeped in high snow,
Those Bears, therefore, don’t even show
A face or nose, or the scariest pose,
But then, suddenly, and quite fast
Those Bears are all ‘slept out’ at last,
And then they come quite quickly looking
For someone’s nice and very tasty cooking.
Eager, and very much in the mood,
To get quantities and quantities of scrumptious food,
And feeling, actually, a little bit beat,
After such a long and very ‘fasting’ sleep,
Those Bears are really not mannerly at all,
Quite, in fact, rather frighteningly cruel,
As then they sniff out their newly found eats,
‘Wolfing them down, ’ like 'Easter Bunny' treats.” JM
Vocal Tools, Tastes & Traditions
Opera is a form of enjoyment and expression. People used to sing opera in the streets of Italy, when the style began, as a form of communication, enjoyment and theater. Let us indulge ourselves in this.
If we talk about tools, taste and tradition for opera, we might need to realize that years ago singers of opera were trained with a foundation of "bel canto," which is a way of vocal production, not just a style of singing. This basis of "bel canto," generally enabled the singers to convincingly sing a wide gamut of vocal styles and vocal expressions and gymnastics, training them also to sing and perform a wide repertoire spectrum.
If we exemplify the Verdi Lyrico Spinto Soprano (Lyric Dramatic Soprano), we would see that Verdi expected the same soprano voice to sing all of his soprano roles- from "La Traviata" to "Aida." And, though each of these specific roles covers specific extremes of Verdi's vocal demands, the repertoire itself exemplifies the technical requirements-fortes and pianos, chest voice, spins and extroverted drama-needed and expected for this repertoire, and the training expected of the singer to be able to sing it.
Surely a singer's particular strengths and interests determined her role choices for the long-term of her chosen vocal "look," but the vocal fundaments and training tools were there to make the choices, thus giving way to a broader casting menu.
If a soprano incorporated styles and repertoire from other nationalities into her performing, additional to Verdi, the same soprano might be found singing Pamina in Mozart's "Die Zauberflöte", as well as Violetta and Aida in Verdi's "La Traviata" and "Aida", and Elizabeth in Wagner's "Tannhäuser"-all in the span of several months-, with no mincing in any of these roles. The training enabled the spin for Pamina and the fioritura and drama for Violetta, and all extremes for Aida, as well as the big thrust for Elizabeth.
If Hitler did any good, it could be said that, in forcing many Europeans to flee him and their homelands-needless-to-say, a horror for those fleeing-, it inadvertently brought the great traditions and cultures of those fleeing into other countries, among them the United States. These traditions spread like a "fan belt" far and wide, establishing a United States cultural standard and musical taste and tradition that monopolized the US and the world table, for many years.
The voice and physical stature of a singer, ideally, was once viewed and determined-for convincing "reading"-from the public's point of perspective. Now, with television having entered our lives, the emphasis has moved to "close-up" scrutiny. Television brings an intimate contact with opera, as it brings opera theater and all singers performing opera on television, into the living rooms of the general public throughout the world. This is meant to be a better than good thing.
It might be worth noting that the performances presented on television are telecasts from extremely large opera rooms (United States opera houses hold 3500 people or more, as a general rule). These performances, then, are not only performed for camera, but must carry to a "live" listening public as well. We want to be sure that the "close-ups "read" well physically, vocally and theatrically on television for the camera, just as they would be expected to read well physically, vocally and theatrically in a large opera room, from afar. We want to answer all needs well, as we are starting a magnificent, far reaching, "fan belt" tradition of our own!
In reflecting on the potency of recital teamwork, I come back to the thinking that a singer and accompanist teamed in the rhythm of great poetry and the style and color of great musical composition can really exemplify an artistic and spiritual marriage, which can touch not only the listener, but can also open a path for the singer and the accompanist, together, to rejoice in a unique expression of love. The sung word is surely not to be underestimated in its primal impact, and for those who ponder, it is actually widely thought that,
The written word would have the continual and constant impact,
And that the spoken word would have an even greater eternal reach,
But it is the sung word, which has the strongest, most active, deepest, and far reaching vibration.
Singing touches, molecularly, the deepest soul of the universe, caresses and embraces its life.
This, combined with teamed artistry and a heavenliness of exceptional vocal beauty, can create an expression of majesty and enlightened love.
Schubert's Cultural-Social Statement
In recently reading through the vocal works of Franz Schubert-particularly his songs-, I found continual reinforcement that, Schubert's cultural-social statement is important and clearly noteworthy, for any era.
Schubert's response to the new rising forms of social organization of his era discovered that songs could serve as a medium for reshuffling the fundamental building blocks of identity and desire, especially sexual desire. His songs project a multi-array of human types, all of whom are tangibly eligible for a sympathetic response, even the most disconcerting of these types. I find Schubert's contribution a huge statement, apropos to any historical time. Psychiatrists should have a field day with Schubert's material!
Laughter is an Attack of Life's Delights
"Releasing endorphins and raising the sights
Of life's pure enjoyment way up to its heights,
Laughter is a pleasure really very well known,
As a wonderful way to keep events as ones own." JM