Geneva, 15 November 2010

Today I almost fell prey to the tasteless choice of writing about the writing…About when I write and why, and when I don’t and why not… Thank goodness I stopped myself:-)

It’s time to write, however.

We just opened Elektra here in Geneva. It’s a fun experience – nice colleagues, a lovely house to work in, really wonderful musical leadership by our conductor, Stefan Soltesz,… and, I look like an overgrown child dressed in a meringue! And what’s not to like about that?! (and yes, it’s on purpose!!)
Chrysotemis is proving to be a good role for me. It feels good to sing it, and, it’s sort of a relief to be the side-kick for a change. I still get to sing some great music, and have some serious drama to sink my teeth into, but not being the lead has its advantages. However, I must say, that no other opera I have been in has wiped me out to this degree. There is something inherent in this music, I think. It sort of sucks the life out of you. It’s amazing and exciting, but it leaves you mortified by the end. Maybe that’s why Strauss did a 180 and never wrote anything like it again…

The past few months have been so good. Not good as in “easy”, or good in that it’s all felt or looked good all the time; but you can feel when the river is picking up speed and bringing all things into alignment and flow into the same direction. It’s sometimes really scary to cast off from shore, when everything “out there” seems unfamiliar or fast; but, by definition, you can’t move, grow, change, expand, advance, arrive, spring into, transform or become anything “new” if you are attached to the feeling of being tethered… Even when feeling that gentle, consistent tug of attachment gives you the sensory illusion of safety… or, predictability!

But sometimes it is difficult to distinguish safety from predictability. Fulfillment from familiarity. Satisfaction from the suppression of fear. And the cost of choosing predictability, familiarity and suppression is… Passion. Passion for anything, especially life itself. It dies a fast death in the absence of uncompromising faith, trust and truthful self-expression. And all of these things are risky, uncomfortable, and quite often looked upon as reckless. However, it doesn’t make them less true, or right!

I like the story of the wise men trying to figure out the nature of God. Each of them blindfolded, placed around an enormous elephant, they held out their hands and described what they felt – convinced that their vantage point gave them the truthful and complete “vision” of the Almighty… Isn’t that just a story of what all of us go through every day in every little situation? Aren’t we all just groping around thinking that our experience of the tail, or the leg, or the flank, or the ear, or trunk is the whole truth, and nothing but…?
Most of us don’t sit around thinking we know the complete truth about God, but, most people I know do pontificate their self-prescribed absolute understanding of themselves, their friends, their children, their boss, their spouse or colleague… And sometimes it is a little hard to stand up in the face of everybody’s opinion – if their opinion is about you!

It takes courage. Self-reliance. And being willing to be uncomfortable for a bit, while someone else adjusts to your non-compliance… It takes patience. Patience with the need for predictability that many find in the expression of their opinions… Opinions that may or may not be “the truth”, and very rarely are complete or comprehensive…

Obviously some opinions are good and healthy, both to hear and express – But rarely when they exclude all others, all alternatives, or all other means of expression. It’s a skill, and a supreme display of good intentions, to express an opinion responsibly.

I love the word “responsible”. Playing with it, you could break it down to mean response-able. And expressing an opinion about someone else responsibly could, in a perfect scenario, leave them response-able. As opposed to leaving them defensive – as if they were just attacked:-)

It’s fear vs. freedom. Every minute of every day.