Just returned from a five hour ecstatic experience of opera auditions in which thirty young contestants treated the audience to a rich variety arias with exquisite skill in the Music Hall of Iowa State University. Some of them may end up at the Met some day. The singers were all between the ages of 22 and 30. As if to show the boundarylessness of music, one of the contestants was a Tamil speaking young woman of Indic heritage.
When one is involved in a matter of service to others, enjoyment of sports, absorption in a novel, or the experience of good food or music, one is in an altogether different realm from the vigorous cerebral debates on issues, ideologies, philosophical matters, or doctrinal differences.
Listening to the tenors, baritones and sopranos was as delightful to my inner being as the philosophical exchanges are eye-opening to my analytical mind.
During an intermission I asked one of the contestants who had belted out to near perfection a Mozart piece from the Zauberflöte whether she spoke German. “Not a word,” she replied, “I only sing.”
“Shame on you,” I was about to say, “You are like the charitable person who doesn’t know the evolutionary forces that drive him/her to charity for species survival reasons.” But then, I said to myself, “I know very well the libretto of this piece, in English and in German; but if I were to even try to sing it, that would be a disaster.”
This reinforced my conviction that it is more interesting, important, and meaningful (for me) to engage in certain worthwhile activities than to be endlessly arguing about their underlying sources: which may be interesting as exercises and even enriching as science, but that has little to do with the fulfillment that comes from the practice (at least for me).
January 7, 2012