Today was a wonderful day, and a day which involved two different love stories. Kathy and I ate lunch today with our young friends Trevor and Megan. Trevor is a fifth year senior at Carthage and one of the finest voice students I have ever had- and one of those rare students who also becomes a treasured friend. It’s the same story with Megan. She credits me with being a very big reason why she chose to come to Carthage. (I gave an impromptu tour to Megan and her mother right after Megan’s audition, and they appreciated my encouraging words.) She was my voice student for only one semester, while her regular teacher was on sabbatical, but I got to know Megan thoroughly well through Carthage Choir and the Chamber Singers and both Kathy and I have come to feel such affection for her.
This past Wednesday they became engaged – much to our delight – but it wasn’t until today that we got to sit down with them for a meal and convey our congratulations and good wishes to them. It is so fun to see the wonderful chemistry between them- and it reminds me a bit of Kathy and me in that they are an intriguing mix of similarities and differences. How boring to be a carbon copy of your partner. And how maddening to have nothing at all in common. But how wonderful when there are common traits that give you cohesiveness as well as differences that make life a bit more colorful and interesting. We are so happy for them – and feel so blessed to have yet another wedding to look forward to.
After lunch, Trevor and Megan and I were off to Tinseltown Cinemas to watch a repeat simulcast from the Metropolitan Opera of Tchaikovsky’s gorgeous opera “Eugene Onegin.” Both Trevor and I had already seen this but were excited to see it again – and he was excited to have Megan experience this for herself. My best friend Marshall came over as well and the four of us – along with about 40 other people in the theater- were treated to an absolute feast of brilliant singing and acting. It’s hard to explain just how powerful an impact this performance had- especially on a big cinema screen with the sound rolling out of cinema speakers. It was a bit like watching an opera on PBS on TV – on steroids – but that doesn’t begin to convey how thrilling this is. Afterwards, I bumped into a Carthage staff person, Elaine Walton, who came pretty much on a whim for what turned out to be her very first complete opera performance of any kind. And she absolutely loved it. Part of what made it especially incredible was the cast- Renee Fleming, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Ramon Vargas- you could not have gathered a more impressive trio of leads. And the production was quite spare and simple – almost nothing in the background at all- which made it all the more possible to drink in every single nuance of the performances without being distracted by things like lush draperies in the background.
The story, after Pushkin, is a very poignant love story in which a young innocent girl named Tatiana falls for the slightly older and quite charismatic Eugene Onegin- and cannot help but express her adoration in a letter – but he rather callously rejects her expression of love. Several years later, he returns from abroad to find that she has married and become an elegant and remarkable woman- and he suddenly wants her with every fiber in his being- but she is able to rescind the love she still feels for Onegin in order to remain faithful to her new husband. Over and over, you find yourself thinking “so THIS is what love is about. Falling hard. Going for it. Getting hurt. Retreating. Finding Love Anew. Old loves returning. Brutally hard lessons learned.” Anyone who thinks that opera is irrelevant and out of touch is not paying attention. This opera and this magnificent performance of it underscores just how real and authentic opera can be . . .
Anyway, there are the two love stories of the day – one so beautiful , and the other much more painful yet beautiful in its own way.
pictured above: Trevor Parker and Megan Dieschbourg- actually from an earlier dinner together, at The Chancery