Poetry at the Post: Opera in Oaxaca with Phillip Gross

Opera Bouffe
BY PHILIP GROSS

The count of cappuccino,
the marquise of meringue,
all the little cantuccini…
and what was the song they sang?

 

Teatro Macedonia Alcala Oaxaca, Mexico March 2015
Teatro Macedonia Alcala
Oaxaca, Mexico
March 2015

The warmth and sun of Oaxaca contrasted with the medieval Scottish highlands of Rossini’s La Donna del Lago transmitted live last Saturday in Mexico—as well as in more than 70 countries worldwide—thanks to the New York Metropolitan Opera’s simulcast program.

Running a bit late, I rushed up the white marble staircase of  the lovely Teatro Macedonia Alcala — a theater built at the turn of the 19th century in the style of Louis XV. I took my seat on the right, aisle E.  Michele Mariotti lifts his baton, the aria begins….

The story is simple: three men in love with Elena, a young woman whose wishes are at cross purpose to her father’s political ambitions. He chooses one man; she wants another. And, oh yes—there’s special ring, a king and a very happy ending. I loved it!

“Tanti affetti”—the final showpiece aria sung by the marvelous Joyce DiDonato—had me humming and joyful on my walk up Calle Alcala to my minimalist apartment uptown.

As it was Saturday, it was wedding day and just as I passed by Santo Domingo, a bride and groom were exiting the church.
 

Marmota  Santo Domingo  Oaxaca, Mexico March 14, 2015
Marmota
Santo Domingo
Oaxaca, Mexico
March 14, 2015

I stopped and prayed for Jimena and Claudio…may this day not be the end but a beginning of a journey through life with love.  Meanwhile, poor Elena is doomed to the nightly repetition of her angst over three men never to be released into the real world after the final aria at Stirlng Castle..

We’ll slip away together,
perfect ghosts of appetite,
the balancing of ash on fire
and whim—the mating flight

 

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