Aida, An Opera

A cd cover for Aida. My in-laws took us to see this opera last weekend. I had seen it once before, in Rome, where I remember it as a spectacle. This time I watched a tragedy. If you don’t know the story, it’s a love triangle. A war hero of Egypt. an Egyptian princess, and a Ethopian slave whose father leads the troupes attacking Egypt. The hero betrays his country, is sentenced to death and he and his beloved die together as the princess mourns. Stuff of high emotion set to equally emotional music. The singers were terrific (and unmiked, unlike the current Broadway trend), and the orchestra live. Sets, costumes, the whole magilla, touched with magic.

If I could have had any career, I would have chosen to be an opera singer, not a ballet dancer. Gorgeous music coupled with drama and heartbreak; what’s not to love? My favorites have always been the Italian heavys where the lead soprano dies singing music of great beauty. Traviata, Turandot (ok, Liu dies, not the lead), La Boheme, Tosca (both leads expire). Yes, and Carmen. I like Mozart, and Richard Strauss, but Verdi and Puccini…aaah!

I have two opera stories. The first involves a break-in to my apartment when I was in college. Robbers hit me over the head with a coke bottle; I was sleeping but evidently I moved and they felt threatened. Luckily the Lewises have hard heads, but Mother insisted I go to the doctor. Before he could say anything, I blurted, “I have tickets to Of Mice and Men at the Central City Opera tonight. They were expensive, so don’t tell me I have to stay in bed.”

My second story took place in Palermo, Italy. February, and we were freezing in Rome, so we got on the overnight train to Sicily. When we woke, the train was traveling alongside the sea and there were poinsettas blooming everywhere. In the evening we got tickets for the opera – Nabucco – which I had never heard of but it’s Verdi, so it was bound to be good. We were in the nosebleed section, the only English speakers in the crowd. And when the choruses came on, everyone around us sang along as if it were a rock concert!

So thank you to my mother and father-in-law. You guys rock! And if any reader is unfamiliar with opera but would like to give it a try, I suggest you start with highlights of Traviata, preferably sung by Beverly Sills.

Gecko Belly

The belly of a gecko taken through the window.

In addition to loving the stories surrounding the inanimate objects in my life, I’m a big fan of nature. For my first successful essay in college, I wrote about standing on a street corner, waiting for a bus. It was fall, the leaves a sodden mess, cars splattering past and my mood was rotten. But as I waited, I turned my face up toward the branches of the tree overhead. The sun poured them full of golden light and beyond stretched blue, blue, clouds, blue. The top of my head blew off and my mood exploded into such happiness! Ever since, I’m on the lookout for the power of nature.

Nature in Florida, where this shot was taken, is bigger than most places. The beetles are oversized, the cockroaches humongous, and the ants, which run in packs, ubiquitous. I have to admit that bugs and spiders are a side of nature I don’t enjoy. One night in Florida I left out a half-full glass of hard cider. In the morning, floating in what I must assume was a cheerful death, was the largest bug I’ve ever seen, either a palmetto bug or a beetle. *Shudder*

On the other hand, I find the geckos charming, although I draw the line at wearing one for an earring. I did some research for this post and discovered that the poor little things can’t blink. They use their long tongue to clean their eyes…some of the charm just fled! They have specialized toe pads – you can see them in the picture – that allow them to climb any smooth surface such as windows, ceilings. Evidently the only material known to cause them walking problems is Teflon. I’ll close with a closeup of a gecko foot on glass.

Mannequin on the Move: Movie Castle

A piece of set decoration from Mannequin on the Move. It’s made of thin strips of lacquered balsa and is about 2′ high. There were several of these made as centerpieces for a scene in the movie.

My husband, who was in the industry at that time, worked on the film. When he got notice about the job, he called me at work. “I’m going to Philadelphia to make a film.”
I laughed, “Oh, really?”
“I leave tomorrow.”
“You’re kidding! For how long?”
“Six weeks.” Then, plaintively, “Can you come home and help me pack?”

Making movies is a grueling job, unless you’re the star. I got an occasional call and he was always exhausted. He’d tell me about a late night schedule change and how he was up until 3AM sliding the new schedules under actors’ hotel room doors. Or how difficult it was finding parking for the various trucks with equipment and the “honey wagon” – the bathrooms. Glamorous the job was not!

Since I had never been to Philly, we arranged that I would fly out for a few days when the show was wrapped and he’d had a night’s sleep. I got in late afternoon; he had just finished, after being up for 36 hours. We went to dinner and I swear, I thought his face was going to literally fall in the French Onion soup he ordered. My first evening in Philly was spent reading in the hotel bathroom so he could sleep.

He gave this castle to his nephews. We also had one, but it was fragile and when we moved, we sold it.