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Lucie de Lammermoor

Last night rsc and I went to the Boston Lyric Opera's performance of Donizetti's Lucie de Lammermoor. Usually it is Lucia di but this is the French version that is rarely performed. These days with surtitles or seatback titles in the Met, it isn't that important to know the opera and the words. Like many tragegies in Opera not much happens, it takes huge amounts of singing to explain that, and lots of people die at the end.

Lucie was played by Tracy Dahl and she was splendid. This year BLO has called their season the Diva Season and is featuring Lucie.., Thaïs by Massenet and La Traviata by Verdi. So this is definitely a French season since La Traviata takes place in France even though it is sung in italian.

During Lucie's scene in the third act which culminates in her suicide (oh, sorry I gave away the plot) I was thinking of two friends of mine who took their lives many years ago. No, they didn't sing, and it wasn't dramatic but it certainly was tragic.

One of them, Jan, was a friend of a friend and she lived with us (Meg and I, not Robert and I, but in the same house we live in now) for a bit and it was extremely difficult - she was a manic depressive. I don't know which stage was worse to deal with. During the manic stage she talked a lot - like all night - and walked around; she was in her own world, but she seemed cheerful. In the depressive state the gloom seemed a bit contagious. We had no idea what to do. She moved around and stayed with various friends and I don't remember anything about her actual death other than I was completely unprepared but not completely surprised.

The other person, Peter Haber, was a work colleague and friend. He was a very nice person - sort of wanted to be a folk singer or something like that and he wasn't really a very good system programmer but he did try hard. He's the guy playing the guitar. He lived near by and used to come to my house to play recorder with me on recorder or harpsicord. He had quit work quite a few months before; I'd been his boss. He seemed to be getting his act together and there was the possibility of his marrying his then girl friend and coming back to work. His death was a complete shock and surprise to everyone who knew him. I remember the day he took his life. I was in my office interviewing Mike A for job. Myra, our secretary, came in and said - John can I see you for a moment. I excused myself from the interview and she told me the police had just called because they found his work ID in his wallet. I took a bit for me to collect myself and return to my office to continue the interview. (He got the job, but unlike Robert didn't eventually become my boy friend). All of this was over thirty years ago and it is a bit fuzzy other than the interview situtation which seems fresh in my mind.

Now back to the opera....

And this summer BLO is doing Aïda on the Common . The did Carmen on the Common a few years ago. We didn't see it. I really like the idea of their doing Opera in a popular venue so that more people get exposed to it. Looking around the audience last night revealed very few young people and I'd suspect that the average age of attendees was 50 or a bit higher. Quite different from the dancers at Thursday nights Contra Dance at the VFW where a huge portion of the attendees were high school or college age. And I saw no men at the opera wearing skirts as we did on Thursday. I like getting the nice skirt compliment from women; sigh, but not the men.


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Very interesting. Thinking it over, I know of a huge number of friends-of-a-friend who've committed suicide, but can't think of any direct personal friends. So I can't know the effect, but I've been told it's enormous.

So this is definitely a French season since La Traviata takes place in France even though it is sung in italian.

On the other hand, it's the only one of the three that does take place in France.

He got the job, but unlike Robert didn't eventually become my boy friend.

If everybody you ever hired had become your boyfriend, we'd have a very crowded household.

oh, sorry I gave away the plot

Well, it is opera!

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