I "lifted" the following from another blog, therefore I decided, out of respect for the author, not to change a word.
Out of the same respect for my friends who are Republicans, I add that I wish that the first sentence made reference to "conservatives" rather than to "republicans. I recall that many conservative democrats resisted "liberal" civil rights legislation, and that Richard Nixon (with all his many flaws) continued the "liberal" War on Poverty.
Having said that - the following describes my badge of honour.
"What did liberals do that was so offensive to the Republican Party? I’ll tell you what they did. Liberals got women the right to vote. Liberals got African-Americans the right to vote. Liberals created Social Security and lifted millions of elderly people out of poverty. Liberals ended segregation. Liberals passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act. Liberals created Medicare. Liberals passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act. What did Conservatives do? They opposed them on every one of those things, every one. So when you try to hurl that label at my feet, ‘Liberal,’ as if it were something to be ashamed of, something dirty, something to run away from, it won’t work, because I will pick up that label and I will wear it as a badge of honor."
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (for some reason or other he is always referred to by the three names) wrote what I consider to some of the most sublime melodies which a person could conceive.
If I had to be restricted to one composer it would be Mozart, and if he is not in “heaven” then I don’t want to be there.
(On the other hand, I’ll leave if Richard Wagner is there! - not on account of his music, but because of his vile anti Semitism)
Mozart died at aged 35, just two months after the premiere performance of his “The Magic Flute” (“Die Zauberflote”), the opera which I enjoyed yesterday afternoon. This opera has always been a crowd pleaser with what yesterday’s programme notes called “a combination of low comedy and Masonic-inspired ritual”.
Mozart and his librettist Emanuel Schikander were Masons in the “Free and Accepted” Masonic order which, again according to the programme notes, was “known for their liberal views and feared by autocratic monarchs”.
The opera’s plot is of course, preposterous - with loves fond, lost and found again. Sadly there are no tragic suicides or ghastly murders! It is set in Egypt in a temple to Isis and Orisis (coded words for a Masonic temple).
Yet no-one cares about the plot or setting in opera. The music is all that counts.
The “sense of wonder” of the 10 year old John Michael Povey (of which I wrote yesterday) returned to him (me) 55 years later at the Sarasota Opera’s matinee performance of “Die Zauberflote” – March 21st 2010.
For you see, I “know” much of the music, having heard it on the radio, and on the two disc C.D. which I have. But I had never before attended a performance of this opera.
So yesterday afternoon was akin to meeting a long time pen-pal for this first time, and then discovering that you truly like this pal.
I was spell bound for the more than two and a half hour production.
The moment of sheer joy and wonder for me was about 34 minutes into the opera when Pamina (the heroine), and Papageno (a buffoon) sing a duet in praise of married love “Bei Mannem, welche Liebe fuhlen”.
This, for me, is one of the two greatest tunes from Mozart (the other being his “Ave Verum Corpus”)
I have sung the Ave Verum Corpus ( and I want it to be sung at my funeral!).
But although I have rejoiced in the Pamina/Papegeno duet so many times as I have listened to recordings, I had never before heard it sung “live”, so to speak, in the Opera itself.
I was on the edge of my chair in ecstasy. Yes, in ecstasy!
When I was ten years old I was in what Americans would call 5th grade. (In England we started “1st grade” at aged 5.) Mr. Sidney Richards was my classroom teacher at Eastville Junior Mixed School in the Greenbank/Eastville area of Bristol.
Mr. Richards was also the music teacher for the whole school. His wife was the piano accompanist. I loved to sing then (as I do now). “Sid” and his wife introduced me to good music.
We learned to sing a vocal arrangement of part of Schubert’s String Quintet in A major, D. 667, ''The Trout''.
Mr. and Mrs. Richard exposed us to the full range of traditional English folk songs as “discovered” and arranged by Cecil Sharp.
They enabled us to sing music by Mozart and Dvorak.
We sang for the B.B.C.
All this was public education at its very best - enabled by the post World War II socialist governments of Great Britain.
Syd and his wife proposed a visit to the Opera at the Bristol Hippodrome. Mum and Dad, though constrained by the strictures of the fundamentalist Plymouth Brethren, decided that I could attend (on the basis that it would certainly do me no harm).
This was my first ever visit to a Theatre. The performance was not Grand Opera, but an Operetta by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan - “The Mikado”. The Richards’ had taken care to instruct us that this Operetta, though set in the Court of a Japanese Mikado was in fact a satire on Queen Victoria’s London Court.
I was entranced from when the curtain was raised until the finale. I know this a bit from memory, but more from what Sid Richards told me many years later.
For you see, next morning we had been required to write a composition (essay) on our visit to the Hippodrome. This I did.
Much later (when I was in my early twenties) having fond memories of Mr. and Mrs Richards, I visited them in their Summerhill Road (St. George, Bristol) home.
Sid told me that he could still remember the sense of wonder which I had conveyed in my composition.
That sense of wonder came again to me this afternoon when I attended “real Opera” here in Sarasota. I’ll write about that tomorrow.