After the high-energy “Jerry Springer The Opera” recently at the Guildford School of Acting, I’ve been coming back down to earth aided in part by some sublime music and reading. The generosity in me wants me to share some of these things, so here they are:
First up: one of my favourite books of all time, “Home” by Marilynne Robinson. Concerning a dying father, a caring unmarried daughter and the return of a prodigal son, the novel paints a picture of family loyalty, regrets and loneliness. This novel has one of my favourite quotes:
“I think hope is the worst thing in the world. I really do. It makes a fool of you while it lasts. And then when it’s gone, it’s like there’s nothing left of you at all . . . except what you can’t be rid of.”
A dagger straight to the heart!
Next up, and no less sad, is one of my favourite musicals of all time, “The Light In The Piazza“.
From the opening stirrings of the overture to the final song, “Fable”, we are transported to the romantic city of Florence to meet innocent Clara and her mother Margaret. As with Robinson’s “Home” it deals with a great deal of regret, but the difference here is a real hope that things can turn out alright if you give them a chance. Particular highlights from Adam Guettel’s beautiful score are, of course, the title song but then my all time favourite Ballad-for-Boys is “Love To Me”. Throughout this song we have the slightly awkward 5+4 time signature as Fabrizio tries to convince Clara that everything will be ok. Then it resolves beautifully into a regular 4/4 with the lines:
“This is how I know; this is what I see; this is love to me.”
And God help anyone who breathes in the middle of that last sentence! Those who have worked its me will understand my feelings on the matter!
I had the great privilege of seeing Lucy Schaufer and Caroline Sheen playing Margaret and Clara in the European premier a few years back, and their performances have stayed with me since. I recently read the novella on which the musical is based. It is no less haunting, though it has to be said that the intricacies of Guettel’s music and the deftness of his lyric writing bring the story great depth.
Get listening and reading, dear readers!