Noilly Prattle: Music at dusk, exuberance at dawn

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Music at dusk, exuberance at dawn

Tallinn, Estonia and the Baltic Sea

    The sun is doing it's best to impress here in the land of the almost midnight sun. The bombs and missiles of the ongoing global imbroglio are, thankfully, only a very distant echo from a fourth day of cloudless skies, comfortable temperatures and carefree travelers and inhabitants of Tallinn. While bombs and missiles rain down on unhappier climes, the sun embraces and kisses with nary a drop of rain in the sky. It's a little overwhelmingly dreamlike. This is the way the world ought to be even though I know it is a frame of mind. But perception is everything after all. It is what you think it is and how you see it.

recital hall in the Old Town Hall
       We attended the first musical evening of our summer travels. It was a small recital in the Old Town Hall consisting of a tenor, soprano and piano. It was billed as an opera concert but the first half of the program was of various songs by different composers, many of whom we hadn't heard of. We were beginning to get a little bored by break time. After the break, though, the tenor began with “Una furtiva lagrima” from Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore and he was spot on terrific; one of the sweetest tenors I've heard in some time. That broke the ice of boredom and the rest of the recital was most enjoyable. The soprano, a Polish lady, was very good in most of her repertoire but not great in “Caro nome” from Verdi's Rigoletto. That is a very difficult aria that requires coloratura sweetness and purity in the high notes and a virginal naïveté in the expression. The soprano wasn't a coloratura and lacked the virginal naïveté that the best artists, even if they are neither, bring to the role. Other than that, though, her singing was most enjoyable. We stopped off at a charming cafe in a blind alley for coffee and cake after the concert.

tenor and soprano duet
       I mentioned in a previous post that the raging hormone set parties all night beneath our windows. Now, you could be a crotchety old fart at having your sleep disturbed by these “inconsiderate hooligans”, or, you could be moved by the seemingly never-ending energy of these appallingly young merrymakers and remember, with a touch of nostalgia, your own salad days and, suddenly, you are young again. There is a practical point to this little homily.

       I was awakened at dawn by what sounded like a “chorus of angels” singing loudly and lustily. My “angels”, of course, were a large group of young men freshly departed from the nightclub across the street when, I assume, it closed. They obviously were not yet partied out and still had plenty of energy to spare. They were singing some song that sounded like something out of Viking mythology. The beauty of it was that it sounded good. The young men obviously all knew the song and harmonized beautifully. An occasional solo voice would rise up, sometimes high above the chorus and sometimes underscoring it in the bass tones. It was a song of health, pure exuberance, the joy of existence and the biological and emotional yearning for sex.

       Far from being irritated I had a feeling of the rightness and beauty that life, at times, can be. I felt joy and happiness myself and I fully expected to hear a maidens' chorus yearning in response to that of the young males, happily bonded and singing their paean to the joy of existence.

       It was a moment to savor, a sense of the sunset of life connected to its dawn. Thank you, gentlemen, for the honor. 

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