Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Music from Heaven

I was just listening to music on my iPod, which I had set to Shuffle. Because I have an extremely eclectic variety of tunes on my Pod, this can lead to sometimes jarring juxtapositions of a Billy Joel song followed by a Christmas carol followed by a Bach Kyrie. But it’s an adventure.

My all-time favourite aria came on, and after blissing out through two repeats of it, I felt moved to blog. I’m sure Georges Bizet (the composer, who has been dead for 130 years) had no idea it could cause that reaction in somebody.

The aria is Au fond du temple saint from The Pearl Fishers. Surprisingly, despite a robust classical music education, I had not heard of this opera until about ten years ago. I highly recommend it, and this aria in particular sends me into raptures every time. It’s a duet between a tenor and a baritone. I’m not going to get into the whole story of the song, but basically they’re singing about a woman they’re both besotted with. I have often thought that if I had my wedding to do over again, I would use this aria as my processional. It has a stately tempo conducive to queenly aisle-walking. Even the lyrics are totally appropriate.

Now, those among you familiar with the words might be raising an eyebrow at this point. It may be, now that I think about it, that they are really only appropriate for MY wedding. Here is an excerpt from the aria (translated from the original French) and you see what you think.

At the back of the holy temple
decorated with flowers and gold
A woman appears!
I can still see her!
I can still see her!
The prostrate crowd
looks at her amazed
and murmurs under its breath:
look, this is the goddess
looming up in the shadow
and holding out her arms to us.
Her veil parts slightly.
What a vision! What a dream!
The crowd is kneeling.
Yes, it is she!
It is the goddess,
more charming and more beautiful.
Yes, it is she!
It is the goddess
who has come down among us.
Her veil has parted and the crowd is kneeling.
But through the crowd
she makes her way.

Yes, of course I’m being a little tongue in cheek, although what woman would not want to walk down the aisle while two gorgeous men with voices from heaven were singing that to her? But if it might be just the teensiest bit over the top for a wedding processional, it’s a stunningly beautiful song. Even if you’re not an opera fan, it’ll melt you into a puddle. Trust me. Go download it, and if you don’t like it, I’ll give you your 99 cents back.

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