Call it irony if you like. On my way to choir rehearsal tonight, I was listening to NPR when I heard this commentary on what we can learn from opera during the current economic bad times. I laughed out loud as Marc Acito, a music commentator (and professional musician) talked about all the bad news presented in opera and how the protagonists just sing about their troubles. Here’s a quote from the commentary that I could most relate to:
“Or, if you think you’re working too hard just to keep up, remember The Barber of Seville. When he sings “Figaro, Figaro…” it’s not because he likes the sound of his own voice. Well, actually, most baritones do sing because they like the sound of their own voice. But in this case, he’s actually complaining about how he has to be in so many places at once. “Figaro qua, Figaro la, Figaro qua, Figaro la, Figaro su, Figaro giu, Figaro su, Figaro giu.”
It’s no exaggeration to say Figaro’s overwork is what led to the French Revolution.”
If you take the time to follow the link, take the time to listen to the short audio file of the commentary. It is much more entertaining spoken than written, plus you get to hear Mark Acito sing excerpts from the operas he describes.
The commentary on opera made me think of country music, too. Think of all those “my wife left me, my car died, and even the dog has left” country music songs. And, of course, there’s always “the blues” for crooning about bad times.
Hearing this piece reminded me that music is a great tool for dealing with stress. It soothes the soul, even when it seems like nothing can help. It also made me laugh, and we all know humor is a great balm for emotional and psychological ailments.