This morning I was listening to France Musiques, our national classical music radio, a feathered nest for literary/philosophical people like me (and Toby ?), which allows its producers/employees to take home meat and pototoes to their tables in an elegant, and graceful manner, and heard an excerpt from Monteverdi's "Incoronazione di Poppea", "The Coronation of Poppea".
The final duo between Nero and Poppea. Here are the words :
"Pur ti miro, pur ti godo,
Pur ti stringo, pur t'annodo ;
Più non peno, più non moro,
O mia vita, o mio tesoro.
Io son tua, tuo son io,
Speme mia, dillo, di.
Tu sei pur l'idolo mio,
Si, mio ben, si, mio cor, mia vita, si.
I gaze upon you, I desire you,
I embrace you, I enchain you ;
no more grieving, no more dying,
o my life, o my beloved.
I am yours, yours am I,
my hope, tell it, tell.
You are truly my idol,
yes, my love, yes, my heart, my life, yes."
I discovered this opera ten years ago, at the Opera of Lyon, and received it like a kick in the stomach.
If you come from a Puritan (northern ?) background like mine, the totally amoral nature of Monteverdi's opera will unsettle you MUCH more than any tawdry pornographic flick ever could.
It opens with a deus ex machina discussion between the goddesses of fortune, and virtue, squabbling about who is the biggest and best... (yeah, well, nothing has changed on this count, right ? Still squabbles like that around, right ?) Enter the goddess of love who proclaims "Who do you think you are...dividing among yourselves the whole world, its sovereignty and its rule, excluding Love, the god who is so much greater than either of you ? I teach the virtues, I control Fortune, this boy has vanquished since antiquity time and all other gods (including money, dixit ME..) : Eternity and I are twins. Rever me, worship me, and name me your sovereign. There is no human heart, nor divine that may presume to contend with Love."
For two hours, we witness the indestructible force of sexual desire, and how it rides roughshod over EVERYTHING and EVERYBODY that stands in its way, provoking the "suicide" of Seneca, the shipwreck of Octavia, Nero's legitimate wife, and the final triumph of the new couple, Nero and Poppea, beautiful animals in the grips of their... passionate lust (more Nero's than Poppea's, come to think of it. While Nero has lost his head, Poppea has NOT lost hers.).
And the final duo is worthy of... the Song of Songs. A delicate back and forth, an entwining of man and woman, an erotic game of catch and seek all in the music itself.
It is GOOD for us to remember what makes us tick in the grips of all this dry and dusty stuff.
It is good for us to remember that we are animals in the throes of our passions, whether said passions be... lust for the "flesh" or lust for money...
The version I heard this morning was by Christina Pluhar's ensemble, Arpeggiata, which has been cooperating for 10 years now. I will tell you more about this unique musical experiment later.
Don't worry... I CAN talk about economics, on a basic level, at least...
But... I feel it's important to be able to sip a little classical culture with our drier stuff too, right ?