Posted by: ritagone | April 12, 2017

What’s Your Melody?

In last week’s Ramblings I wrote about things that lately bring me to tears: movies, episodes of TV shows, books, people I love, with no apparent explanation for why there’s this sudden outburst of emotion from me. It seems to have touched a resonant chord with many people, because the response has been both abundant and agreeable. You can relate. You’re having the same experience. I’m not alone. Whew! I’m glad. I didn’t want to be unique or stand out about this, so thanks for sharing, those of you who did, and expressing that you too find yourself weepy at certain triggers that move you.

So I’m boldly going to press on to ask another question, because of another little experience I had this past week. First let me share the experience, and then I’ll ask the question.

I read an article last week in the New York Times about Renée Fleming, the diva who is probably the best known soprano in the world of opera today. She is well known because she has managed to make the leap into popular music as well, a feat which is rarely accomplished by most opera singers. In the article, Ms. Fleming was purported to be retiring from the stage, singing her final performance in mid-May in Richard Strauss’ opera “Der Rosenkavalier,” which, aptly, is about the passage of time, the story of a wealthy married woman, the Marschallin, who is having an affair with a much younger man, and who by the end of the opera realizes that she is getting older and that he is going to move on.

Never mind that a few days later Ms. Fleming, in an article published digitally by NPR Classical, denied that she was actually retiring, stating that her schedule of performances is booked for at least the next two years.

What struck me in the article was the information that Strauss, the composer, was so touched by his own music at the end of the opera that he wanted the piece the heroine sings as the finale played at his own funeral!

Now, that’s loving a melody, whether you’ve written it yourself or not!

So I downloaded the referred-to track from “Der Rosenkavalier” and listened to it, expecting to be moved to tears, in keeping with the emotional pitch I expressed in my last Rita’s Ramblings.

I wasn’t.

In fact, I had trouble even discerning the actual melody line itself.

I listened a few times; still no melody line appeared, at least not one I could keep in my head, hum later. So for me, that’s a no-go. I need a melody, a distinct, hummable melody for a song to stick, to have gravitas in my heart and mind. That’s just me.

For me, if you put a gun to my head (please don’t!) to divulge this information or fact, the melody I love more than any other in the world is the aria “Song to the Moon” from Dvorak’s opera “Rusalka” (incidentally one of the noted roles for Renée Fleming over the years and one she intends to keep singing); however, I prefer the instrumental version of Joshua Bell’s violin. You have to get almost two minutes into it before you get to the part that renders me into tears; the beginning is the most stirring build-up before this crushing, lyrical music. It literally makes me weep; once when Michael and I were on a flight somewhere, with headsets on and listening to it, I was crying, and he didn’t know what was wrong. I had to stop the music and explain to him that no, I wasn’t having a nervous breakdown, I was merely listening to the most beautiful piece of music ever written (in my humble opinion). Yes, I would like it played at my funeral.

So if you’re alive when I die and you have any say in my funeral arrangements or memorial service, should there be one, take note. That’s my melody. Rusalka’s “Song to the Moon,” preferably the Josh Bell version. See if you can get him to come play it in person. I’d love that. (Yes, I will know and I will hear.)

I think everyone should have a melody, a song, even a phrase of a song that is “theirs.” A tune that resonates in his or her heart and soul and speaks to them the way no other piece of music does. Like a Bible verse that people say is their “life verse.” (I have one of those too, if you must know: it’s Jeremiah 12:5. It’s tattooed on my right forearm, and I got the tattoo when I was in New York City a few years ago, but that was a story for another time and another Rita’s Ramblings.) A song, a Bible verse, a favorite movie, something that is yours and yours alone –or at least feels that way to you — because it triggers such profound emotion and nostalgia and connection to the universe for you.

So my question to you today is this: what’s your melody? What tune makes your heart soar? Hum it. Listen to it. Play it often, either as a recording or on an instrument if you are so blessed with that particular talent. Share it with someone who cares to know what it is because they love you. Make it a part of your life constantly so that you easily associate it with yourself and so that others might also do so.

What’s your melody?




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