Cher Public

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A river runs through it

Lydia TeuscherAlthough it wasn’t unknown in the 18th century for a composer to set a libretto (usually by Metastasio) more than once, I can think of no other case that resembles Handel’s complex relationship to the story—derived from Ovid’s Metamorphoses—of the ill-fated love between the shepherd Acis and the sea nymph Galatea.

Many will be familiar with his exquisite 1718 English Acis and Galatea, but far less well-known is the musically completely different Italian serenata he composed a decade earlier. But thanks to a visit to Lincoln Center’s White Light Festival on Saturday evening by Le Concert d’Astrée, an enthusiastic audience at Alice Tully Hall was treated to a rare and scintillating performance of Aci, Galatea e Polifemo.

Also the basis of Lully’s final completed opera Acis et Galatée, the myth revolves around the cyclops Polyphemus whose amorous advances toward Galatea are rebuffed. A resulting rage prompts him to hurl a boulder which kills Acis, who is then transformed in death into a river where he is reunited with Galatea as she mournfully returns to her underwater home and her father, the sea-god Neptune. While not quite the story one might imagine cheering newlyweds, Aci was commissioned as part of a wedding celebration in Naples in 1708 during Handel’s life-changing four-year sojourn in Italy.

During his time there, the prodigiously fecund composer wrote more than 100 cantatas and two operas, as well as his first important choral work, the Dixit Dominus, but unlike many of those works, Aci lived on. In London, in order to combat a rival pirated edition put on by Thomas Arne, Sr. (the father of the composer), Handel concocted a new Acis and Galatea, one that combined music from both versions, some music sung in English, some in Italian. Its 1732 premiere featured the castrato Senesino and soprano Anna Strada as the lovers, with the great bass Montagnana terrorizing them as Polifemo. This hybrid continued to be revived in a myriad of editions—this aria cut, that aria added—for years, with casts that included another important castrato, Carestini.

The French harpsichordist and conductor Emmanuelle Haïm, who founded Le Concert d’Astrée in 2000, has long been fascinated by the music of Handel’s Italian period, recording for Virgin Classics not only Aci (the group’s first large-scale recording), but also the two grand sacred works, La Resurrezione and Il trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno, as well as a collection of chamber duets and some soprano cantatas with her longtime collaborator Natalie Dessay.

So it was not surprising that she selected Aci for her group’s return to Lincoln Center where they debuted at the 2005 Mostly Mozart Festival performing, along with some Rameau, Handel’s great 1707 cantata Il Delirio Amoroso with soprano Magali Léger.

Although not conceived to be staged, Aci nevertheless forms a propulsive drama, particularly effective in depicting Polifemo’s blustering infatuation and revenge; we’re a long way from Acis’s more benign Polyphemus.

The Italian villain’s music is filled instead with violent extremes, from his strutting entrance “Sibilar l’angui d’Aletto” (later reused for Argante’s entrance in Handel’s first great London success, Rinaldo) to the celebrated lament “Fra l’ombre e gl’orrori” with its extraordinary leaps of more than octave.

The lovers defy conventional expectations with Aci a high soprano and Galatea a contralto, although a female soprano and a male castrato respectively gender-bended the parts at the first performance. Haïm cast only one singer en travesti: German soprano Lydia Teuscher in her New York debut portrayed Aci, with French bass-baritone Laurent Naouri returning to Polifemo which he recorded with Le Concert d’Astrée in 2002 and the arresting French contralto Delphine Galou appearing for the first time in the US as Galatea.

Laurent NaouriDespite the passing of more than a decade since the recording, Naouri remains a formidable cyclops. Although better known for his numerous appearances in French baroque opera, he has tackled these wide-ranging Handel roles like Lucifero in La Resurrezione before.

Although the voice now has to work a little harder, particularly in the bravura of “Sibilar” which forced him to huff and puff his way through the coloratura, he soon recovered for a vigorous “Precipitoso,” a frightening simile aria about a rushing river that strikingly forecasts Aci’s eventual metamorphosis. If his interpretation evoked a spoiled roué more than a violent brute, he made something quite moving of his final accompagnato where he ruefully repeats Aci’s dying words as the shepherd triumphs in his watery reunion with Galatea.

Teuscher revealed a sweetly shining soprano which reveled in Aci’s high-lying music. Her warm quick vibrato made a welcome change from the straight-toned voices one sometimes hears in the part, although it sometimes made it difficult to discern a trill. Occasionally one wanted to hear more of her words; however, she was particularly winning in “Qui l’augel da pianta in pianta,” Aci’s “bird” aria which Haïm consistently takes very slowly: Teuscher’s Saturday evening matched the tempo Haïm uses in her recording which takes nearly 11 minutes, where others I have heard usually run no more than seven.

Teuscher’s hushed, finely-spun “Verso già col sangue” as Aci dies held the nearly sold-out audience breathless.

Over the past few years, Galou has emerged as one of the most sought-after singers for early to mid-18th century music. With Marjana Mijanovic having crashed and burned, Sara Mingardo rarely appearing in opera, and Sonia Prina not singing nearly as well as she used to, many conductors now select Galou for important European performances and recordings. In her first US appearance, her Galatea showed what all the fuss has been about. The strikingly tall and thin Galou wields an unorthodox contralto—earthy, raw and not at all conventionally attractive; and yet her passionate commitment and vivid singing made Galatea’s increasingly desperate situation urgently immediate and moving.

Although she began her career as harpsichordist for Les Arts Florissants and as William Christie’s assistant, Haïm’s music-making differs considerably from that group’s intense elegance. She, instead, strives for outsized contrasts which can result in some rough-and-ready moments. The first half of Aci took a while to settle down with the musicians’s bold playing drowning out the lovers’s blissful opening duet “Sorge il di,” as well as Galatea’s languorous first aria “Sforzano a piagere.” Too often, the singers’s challenging ornaments proved too ambitious, detracting from rather than adding to their performances of the many da capo arias. But things eventually righted themselves, and the second half was altogether more nuanced and polished.

Delphine GalouFor those who may have missed this concert or its previous performances in France and Austria or who are just curious to hear Aci, Galatea e Polifemo, Glossa has just issued a marvelous new recording by Fabio Bonizzoni and La Risonanza.

A follow-up to Bonizzoni’s indispensable seven-CD series of cantatas (also on Glossa), it features a fine cast of Roberta Invernizzi, Blandine Staskiewicz and Lisandro Abadie. As Aci, Invernizzi is perhaps less fresh and fluent than before but remains a consummate Handelian, while the stylish Staskiewicz reveals a smoother voice than Galou. The discovery of the recording is the young Argentinian bass-baritone whose agile and suavely vibrant Polifemo dominates the performance.

Haïm’s 2002 Virgin Classics recording remains eminently recommendable with Naouri introducing his imposing Polifemo alongside the sterling lovers of Mingardo and Sandrine Piau, whose lucky appearance happened due to the vocal difficulties of the originally-scheduled Dessay. It’s too bad that Charles Medlam’s lovely Harmonia Mundi recording is out of print as it features Emma Kirkby in one of her better Handel outings and the underrated Carolyn Watkinson as a splendid Galatea, while David Thomas tries hard as Polifemo.

Two other delectable fruits of Handel’s Italian years will be performed in New York over the next few months. His great cantata Apollo e Dafne for soprano and baritone arrives in mid-November at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall courtesy of the English group Arcangelo with Katherine Watson and Nikolay Borchev conducted by Jonathan Cohen.

And Jennifer Peterson’s operamission continues its chronological exploration of Handel’s operas in January with his 1709 masterpiece Agrippina, performed in the Renaissance library of the Fabbri Mansion.

The shepherd and his sea-nymph will again fear Polyphemus when the great American choreographer Mark Morris (whose ecstatic vision of Handel’s L’Allegro, Il Penseroso ed il Moderato closes the White Light Festival next month) returns to the composer next year for his next major project: a setting of Mozart’s adaptation of Acis and Galatea, albeit sung in English.

It premieres in Berkeley in late April, then travels to Boston in May, eventually arriving at Lincoln Center which co-commissioned it.

Photos: © Kevin Yatarola.


  • Archaeopteryx says:

    Thanks for this wonderful review. By the way, what ever happened to Marijana Mijanovic? She seems to have dieappeared…

  • Camille says:

    THANK YOU! Goody Gumdrops, just what I had wished for! I am just thrilled to have this review to go along with my program notes. It was the most interesting and lovely concert I’ve attended for a log while and the sure cure for an overdose of The Nose in the afternoon.
    This was a most beautiful; interesting, and unusual evening I will remember for a long, long while.

    Mesdames Teuscher and Galou were dressed beautifully, appropriately, et avec beaucoup de chic et élan! I loved the little red shoes peeping out from Aci’s trousers and Galatea’s dress was just favoloso!

    In addition, I heard news there would be a presentation of Händel’s Radamisto at the Juilliard School.

  • Perles75 says:

    I was at the same performance (Haim-Naouri-Galou-Teuscher) but in Paris.
    I was not impressed.

    The only one I liked was Naouri, always an impressive Polifemo even if, as the review says, has to work a little harder to pass through the difficulty of the role.
    Emmanuelle Haïm “tries” a lot to be exciting, with her gestures during the conduction, but I find her one of the least interesting of the new generation of baroque conductors. She’s not bad, mind you, just lacks that sense of understanding and that sparkle that others have.
    I’m puzzled by the success of Delphine Galou. Surely she has character, and you can see she’s passionate in her singing; unfortunately her musical means do not support the same passion, she has a weak voice that has trouble to project (I was not close to the stage and even in a small theatre I had problems to hear her) and relatively flat and opaque, timbre-wise.
    The soprano, unknown to me before, didn’t strike me either. I guess she’s too young and still green, especially for a not easy role as Aci, but I have been in doubt throughout the whole performance if she was singing that way because she meant it or because she was insecure, which is not a good sign.

    Luckily there are nice recordings of this serenata available on disc.

    • MontyNostry says:

      Teuscher’s been around for a while -- about five years ago she was the highlight (as Valentine) of an otherwise pretty horrible DVD of Die lustige Witwe from Dresden, starring an uncharismatic Petra-Maria Schnitzer and a painfully effortful Bo Skovhus.

      • Perles75 says:

        Well, she -did- sound green and vocally insecure in that performance -- perhaps she’s not used to sing baroque and she was overcautious?

  • doktorlehar says:

    Thanks for this terrific review. Just reading it will have “As when the dove” rolling through my head all day.

    What DID happen to Mijanovic, by the way? By an incredible stroke of luck, I was in the audience for one of the performances of ‘Giulio Cesare’ in Vienna that led to the DG recording under Minkowski. She was quite impressive back then in 2003. Her career does seem to have evaporated since.

  • williams says:

    Sorry for this off topic post or if this has been discussed elsewhere but my heart is broken by the passing of opera devotee and visionary Lou Reed.

    When you’re all alone and lonely
    In your midnight hour

    • bassoprofundo says:

      here we go again… this time it’s “heartbreak,” over a person who died at 71, who didn’t even know you existed more than likely… priorities, people, priorities! go call someone you love and say “I love you,” and be heart broken when they die, in a freak car accident, they day before they were coming to visit you… but how can someone be heart broken about the absolutely normal death of natural causes of a 71 year old person with whom one had no personal relationship?… really, the mind boggles. He had a wonderful life; celebrate it! your heart is capable of many wonderful things; use its energy on positive things, not useless negative ones.

      • Clita del Toro says:

        Basso, I agree. I was not even “heartbroken” when Callas or Bjoerling died. I was sad for Maria because of the life she had come to live ; and sad for Jussi’ s alcoholism.
        I was heartbroken when my cat, Sophie died. I know Basso will get me for that. ;)

      • damekenneth says:

        I’d like to ask you if you believe that the grief others speak of experiencing is created as the result of conscious consideration? That a person claims to grieve over the death of a beloved public figure says little about what that grief actually may be about. I would suggest perhaps you are not in a position to judge whether the grief another feels makes sense or not. Further, I can tell you, as a mental health clinician and professor in psychiatry at a major university teaching hospital, that the capacity to grieve -- indeed, to move flexibly among a range of feelings -- is the very definition of mental health. It is the failure to develop a capacity to grieve which is one of the hallmarks of poor mental health. There are important functions that lamentations and other artistic forms dealing with grief provide, including to help others identify with loss of an other, an ideal, or an experience both in the past, in the present, and in the future (reckoning with our own mortality). Merely putting a happy face on loss, or minimizing the importance of a loss because it does not seem directly tied to one, comes in fact at great cost, usually in terms of the capacity to develop real relationships with others. Your ability to alienate so many people on one blog so quickly so often rather speaks to this being an issue you might wish to look into.

        • bassoprofundo says:

          “Your ability to alienate so many people on one blog so quickly so often rather speaks to this being an issue you might wish to look into.”

          I have a difficult time believing that a “mental health clinician” and “professor in psychiatry at a major university teaching hospital” would make such comments on a blog, so either a) you’re not one, or b) you know you shouldn’t be making such comments, hence why you hide behind a moniker. “Oh, I’m a psychiatrist, but I won’t prove it!”

          In any event, I never said there was no purpose in grieving, on the contrary, perhaps you should read my comments again. We all grieve, not only when people die but at other times as well. What I said was that I find it odd that grieving over the death of a loved one can last for years, particularly when one anticipates it happening years in advance (as is the case for anyone with a loved one in his/her 90s). Grieving is part of a process, it is a step in that process; years of grieving, in my opinion, shows that the person is stuck in that step and unable to move on. Presumably you don’t think that not being able to move past the grieving phase after a death is an issue worth looking into; no, no, no, writing some words on a blog, now THAT is a serious issue, ESPECIALLY if some people get their panties in a twist.

          Later I said that I find it similarly odd that someone can truly be “heartbroken” and “grieve” the loss of someone with whom the person has absolutely no personal relationship. You don’t find it odd; alright, that’s fine. You don’t have to.

          The oddest thing is that you believe my “alienating” some people is an “issue” I might wish to look into; what an incompetent fool you are. You’re saying this is an “issue” merely because of how people react to it; what if I went to a room full of a hundred people and gave opinion-x, and they all agreed, and then went into another room, and repeated opinion-x, and they were all “alienated.” Would you say, “Wow, you alienated everyone in room B, you should look into your issue.” Of course you wouldn’t. True “issues” are issues regardless of how other people react. Using your line of reasoning, you and your (fake) colleagues could come up with some behavior pattern X that you all agree is normal, and then a person could go engage in behavior pattern X, and if so doing he alienates some people, then the behavior should be looked into, taking no account of the fact that perhaps the people have a particular aversion to behavior pattern X, that they have cultural differences which make BPX seem foreign to them, etc. How absurd.

          Anyway, thankfully I’m more open minded than you are, and I don’t go around telling people “you should have this issue looked into” or “you should have that issue looked into.” Any “health professional” worth their weight never goes around telling people that unless said person’s behavior is harmful towards others. They wait until the person is ready to seek help, and even then they never said “wow, you should have that looked into.”

          But, since you truly are a “health professional” and you’re certain your approach is the best one, then you should, out of the caring generosity you have shown, provide your name and credentials. After all, your comments are standard for your field and “suggesting someone might look into something” because they may or may not alienate some people on a blog is not exaggerated at all, is it? no, no, of course not, I’m sure all your health professional colleagues would totally agree that that’s appropriate…

          But of course, it’s not inappropriate, because you’re a fucking liar, so I don’t hold anything against you because as a non-health professional there’s nothing inappropriate about making suggestions; I did the same thing, and I’m not a health professional, of course. We all have our opinions, and I appreciate your suggestion, and am indeed an open minded person and would be happy to look into it. None of us are perfect; I, for example, find it odd that someone could grieve and be heartbroken over a complete stranger (by the way, Clita does as well, presumably she should be looked into also); some people find it odd THAT I find it odd that someone could be heartbroken. That’s fine also. We’ve all got our idiosyncrasies.

          So, no offense taken. Your comments are duly appreciated.

          Thank god there are wonderful psychologists and psychiatrists around, who are non-judgmental and don’t go around saying “you should have your issues looked into.” Can you imagine if the person above truly were some armchair psychiatrist? I’m so glad we’ve moved past the 1960s and people like the caricature above no longer exist in the mental health industry.

          /end rant

          • bluecabochon says:

            Wow, if any post was ever illuminating, it’s this one.

            I suspect, Basso, that both of your parents are still alive. People who haven’t lost a parent can’t rightly censure others about how to feel when it happens. It’s natural, it happens to everyone who outlives their parents (which is how it should be but sometimes isn’t) and it’s usually always a life-changing event, but you don’t know how you’ll feel until you get there. There is no death that’s “better” or “worse” than any other -- loss is devastating, period, no matter if it’s a pet, child, spouse, lover, friend, or parent.

            No matter how much imagination one thinks they have, experiencing an actual death can be quite different than anticipated. I wished for a quiet and peaceful death for both of my parents, but that wasn’t how it played out; it was traumatic in one case and unexpected and violent in the other. You have no idea how my father died, yet you feel that you are qualified to lecture me (and others) on how to grieve simply because he was old and going to die soon anyway? What hubris! Shame on you.

            You approach this idea from some strangely clinical position that makes me wonder about your relationships with other people, and the power of your perception. Note how you deny the very things that you swear by when questioned and try to backtrack when you’re in a corner. The combination of your little smiley faces and attempts at levity and “no offense” plus your tedious attacking screeds is bizarre and suspect.

            You defeat your own argument to Dame Kenneth. In fact, I just spent 5 minutes doing some research based on posts I read in the last day or so and feel fairly sure that I know who Dame Kenneth is and where he teaches and serves the community. Don’t worry, Dame K, I’m no threat to you. I enjoy your postings and respect your opinions, and wonder at the time it took for you to write your response to Basso.

            You do have issues, Basso -- you have exposed them yourself to all who read your postings, not only today or last week, but for the last few years or however long you have been here, online and in chat. You may have a moment or two of friendliness toward someone, such as when you tried to advise me about my internet or phone connection in chat shortly after you told me that the way I grieve is “wrong”. I’m sure that you thought that you were being so generous. Maybe you have a poor memory? Maybe you live in the moment on a spectrum and can’t link past to present. I don’t know, and don’t care, but I do feel very sorry for you.

            • bassoprofundo says:

              blue, I’m not quite sure what you’re talking about re: advising you about the internet and phone connection. Are you talking about when Sirius came up in the Norma chat? that’s the only thing that comes to my mind. If so, then it just shows that you’re judging me based on some false characterization you’ve developed about who you think I am as a person. You think I am so rude asshole who doesn’t care about anyone, so when I do or say something “friendly” you are shocked; but the problem is that your premises are wrong.

              You shouldn’t be shocked if I made a suggestion about phone/internet etc as it relates to Sirius; why would I not? I don’t hold grudges or harbor any kind of animosity towards anyone, it’s not healthy and it’s a waste of time. I at least attempt in my life not to hurt people, although I sometimes fail (as do we all); but because of that, I would help anyone if they needed it. If you were here right now and needed something I would be more than happy to give it to you if I could. If you needed someone to talk to about Sirius, Dish, Netrebko, death, whatever, then I would pick up the phone in an instant if you thought I could help. And that goes for everyone else too. I’m sorry if I ever gave you any kind of impression to the contrary. There shouldn’t be any kind of cognitive dissonance when you are confused that I do or say something “friendly.” That stems from the false premise that I am generally an unfriendly person; it’s not true, and if I have given you or anyone else that impression then I’m very sorry and I appreciate you pointing it out to me. I mean that. Honestly, when we were talking about that in the chat I didn’t have anything on my mind about the discussion we had had in the thread; it seems you thought “he thinks he’s being generous” and you thought this in juxtaposition with the comments I made to which you took umbrage. But try to see it from my perspective, i.e., that I didn’t find the comments very offensive, so there’s absolutely no reason (in my mind) for me not to make a suggestion about internet etc, because I have no reason not to “be generous” or “helpful” or whatever we want to call it. I have no non-Parterre relationship with 99% of the people in the chat, but if they ask for a suggestion about, say, which internet with Sirius, do you really think I’d say to myself “oh, I don’t like person-x so I’m not going to help!” of course not! if you think that about me, then I am sorry that I have given you that impression. I like you, actually, you’re articulate, often funny, witty, etc. I know that I’ve said some rude things to you in the past, and I have on multiple occasions apologized for them, but there’s only so much I can do beyond that, especially considering you explicitly refused to accept my apologies. I can only offer sincerity and if you refuse that then I am not sure what else to do. You are a human being; in principle I try not to do anything hurtful towards other human beings; if I do do that, then it’s a failing, not some sort of character trait of which I am proud and which I use to nurture animosity towards those people.

              But back to the topic at hand. In some ways you’re putting words in my mouth; I never used the terms “good,” “better,” “worse” etc to describe deaths. I don’t see how that even makes sense as a description; the delineation I was making was not about the deaths themselves but how the *nature and timing* of the deaths of loved ones can affect people differently. It doesn’t have anything to do with good or bad; it has more to do (in my opinion) with when, and how. As for me: you’re wrong, actually, my father died when I was quite young, when I was nine, an awkward age for any child to lose a parent; I wasn’t ready for it (although at the time I didn’t really know it), and I grieved for quite a while, then “plateaued,” so to speak, then after a few years “grieved” some more, at which point I did see a wonderful psychologist, because indeed I didn’t think it was normal to be grieving a death years after the fact (mostly because I never truly processed it at the time it happened, even though I thought I had done.)

              As for you and your father: I never “lectured” you. As you said, a 90 year old can die an unexpected and violent death just as well as a 10 year old; I never excluded that. And you’re forgetting (perhaps conveniently?) one key aspect of what I said several days ago: that I don’t know you very well. I prefaced everything I said with that. Your personal life is your personal life, and it’s none of my business to delve into it in a public forum; so when I say “not knowing you very well,” as a disclaimer, it includes factoring in unknown variables; as I mentioned several times above, I will summarize again now. If anyone at all is reading Parterre, it means they are a human being with biological parents. Maybe those parents are dead, or maybe they never knew their parents, or maybe both parents are alive, or, or, or, etc. But the fact remains that we will all die at some point, as our parents did, as their parents did, and so on and so forth. The longer our parents live, the closer they get to death. We see it in physical changes, we sense it in mental changes. Life expectancy in the States is something like 80 for women and 75 for men. If a person has a parent who is 85, the person knows that the parent is nearing the end of his life, regardless if he dies tomorrow, next year, or next decade. No one ever throws a party when a parent dies, that’s not the point; the point is that you are aware that the parent’s death is going to occur sooner rather than later, which, again, is NOT the case when, say, a five year old child is gunned down in an elementary school. Do you see what I’m saying?

              And of course you are right re: a violent death! But that’s a rebuttal to a point I never raised. Suppose two people, one 90, and one 10, are on a plane that crashes and both die. Are the children of the 90 year old less “shocked” than the 10 year old, simply because the 90 year old was 90? of course not! it’s absolutely not expected, we’re not in disagreement there. But this is not the crux of the original discussion. The original point was that when someone’s parents die naturally (which is the case with the vast majority of people in the world), at an advanced age, then I find it odd that a person could still be grieving years after the parent dies. Because in fact, the “grieving,” as it were, begins much earlier than before the actual death; it begins once we realize our parents won’t live much longer.

              This is exactly why I said “not knowing you very well,” because I was speaking to a general case which applies to the majority of people. If you said to me “ok basso, but my mother/father died in a train wreck after it fell off a cliff, so what does that have to do with him being 90?” then I would say you are absolutely right, and my comments would be irrelevant. By saying “not knowing you very well,” it acknowledges that your case could be an exception, but you’ll have to forgive me if I didn’t find it appropriate to require that you or anyone else detail the circumstances of their parents’ deaths in a Parterre thread.

              As for me: of course I have issues! We all do, some more serious than others, some less serious than others. None of us asked to be here on this earth, and yet here we are, and we are all products of the circumstances in our lives, and our “issues” develop as a function of them, some of us have common “issues” that we share, others don’t. I don’t see what that has to do with the topic, though, but that’s neither here nor there.

              Anyway. I think in many ways we’re talking past each other, but in closing and in very clear terms, I’ll say once more that I have absolutely nothing against you, and that you shouldn’t be surprised or feel there is a contradiction if I am friendly towards you. Showing goodness towards other people, regardless of who they are, is something we should all strive for, but, as imperfect beings, we sometimes fail. I hope you’ll forgive me for the times when I’ve failed you.

            • bluecabochon says:

              I think there’s been quite enough written on this matter, but I will reply thusly:

              I can’t accept your apologies as you don’t seem to learn from these dust-ups, so I find them insincere when you keep on offending me (and others) in the same way, whether it’s sexist and ageist comments against women or ridiculous rants about how people should behave, think and feel.

              It’s awesome that you think that words have no lingering effect; that people you don’t know are just like you and aren’t affected by what they read and can shrug off willful thoughtlessness and assholery. I think that some people have no awareness of anything other than “winning” at all costs, and that you may be one of these people, artless and and well-meaning, even kind, until something or someone ticks you off and this other self takes over.

              If I thought that there was a chance that you might be chastened into behaving more kindly, consistently, toward people here instead of being a provocateur, I would be less hostile toward you. This posting of yours tries hard but does not convince.

              You remind me of another poster who is quite literal and pedantic; who picks out words and short phrases to debate but misses the big picture entirely. Has anyone seen either of you in the same room at the same time?

              I’m sorry about your losing your father at so young an age. I guess I’m surprised that someone who’s experienced all that you have could write as you did to others about coming to terms with death and grieving. You have experienced psychology but are not, by extension a psychologist qualified to advise others.

              I absolve you as I think that there is some disconnect there and will try to refrain from calling you out on your crap, but I can’t promise it. I suspect that every time anyone does this it gives you a charge, and I don’t want to do that, either.

      • m. croche says:

        Lou Reed didn’t die of “natural causes” -- he died of liver cancer, which he struggled hard to fight. The fight took its toll on him and those around him. A liver transplant in the spring appeared to have been a great success. And then it wasn’t. He leaves behind a wife, family members, friends and colleagues who will miss him. He still had work in him. He died too soon.

        You don’t know who knows whom on this board. You don’t know who reads this board. You think your philosophy of life makes you more clear-sighted than others, but really it’s just the philosophy of a narcissistic twit.

        I’m not the type to write “Fuck off” on a message board, but if I were, I’d do so right now.

        • bassoprofundo says:

          well, you just did. congratulations.

        • bassoprofundo says:

          on what planet is cancer not a naturally occurring phenomenon leading to death? people get liver cancer all the time and die from it. So do animals. It’s completely “normal,” unfortunately.

          The purpose of highlighting “natural causes” is to draw a comparison between, say, dying from cancer at an advanced age (sad but not abnormal) to being hit by a train or having your plane hijacked and crashed into a building, neither of which are natural causes of death, neither of which can be foreseen, etc etc. You don’t have to agree with me, but in my opinion, an elderly person dying after a lengthy bout with cancer, while sad, is not even remotely similar to, say, the children and teachers who died in the Newtown massacre. I’m not a health professional (but don’t worry, neither is damekenneth), however, if I had to guess I suspect one of the key differences is shock. If someone has been dying of cancer for months or years then it would not be a shock to anyone when that person does indeed pass away. But none of the parents who sent their innocent, precious children to school that morning expected to lose their child that day; nor did they ever expect to lose a child period, at such a young age. So on top of the grief of losing a loved one in priciple, it was combined with the shock and lack of preparation for such a horrific event. I don’t think it would be surprising at all (nor do I think it would be odd) to find that many of those parents are still in deep states of grief. And yes. I think that is fundamentally different from the grief experienced at the death of an elderly person who lived a wonderful life and whose death was expected for months, if not years.

          As I mentioned a few pages earlier, I suspect part of the problem with this conversation is that we’re assuming we are all using the term “grieving” synonymously. I could be wrong, but it seems to me that some of us mean different things by that. I don’t consider thinking back on the life of a deceased love one and wishing that person were still alive to be “grieving.” So to say “person-x was very close to me and died and I am still grieving 5 years later,” if the person truly means that they are still experiencing deep psychological anguish that prevents them from functioning, then yes, I think that is odd. I think the “offense” taken by a couple of people is that they believe they are still grieving if they cry over a lost loved one every now and then, or are sometimes sad that they can’t share things in life with their deceased loved ones, i.e., “I wish grandma could be here to see Johnny graduate.” etc etc. I don’t consider that grieving, nor do I consider it out of the ordinary.

        • bluecabochon says:

          Croche, where did you read that Lou Reed had liver cancer? The obits that I read didn’t go into specifics of his death or the nature of his liver disease.

          • Clita del Toro says:

            Lou Reed had had a liver transplant. Cancer, alcohol, cirrhosis or whatever was the cause. A disease is a disease is a disease. Who cares?

            PS I didn’t go to my father’s funeral. Am I an unfeeling monster?
            I did to my mother’s, grandmothers and aunt’s. So what? Everyone grieves differently (or not at all in some cases). Why get all worked up over death. People all over the world are suffering, dying horrible deaths, much of which could be avoided if people weren’t such ignorant, mean assholes.

            • bluecabochon says:

              Clita, with all due respect, this is not about how anyone grieves. It’s about one person coming here and dictating to others how to think and feel. Over and over. Again. And Again. There’s a bit of that going around, and it’s most unwelcome.

              Can’t I ask a question of M. Croche? I care how Lou Reed died. Okay?

  • williams says:

    For crying out loud people! It was a turn of phrase.

  • DonCarloFanatic says:

    Only the person stating an emotion can know the truth of it. Therefore, it is repugnant to be corrected by someone else and have one’s emotion denied.

    OTOH, we do exaggerate a lot here.

  • Spen says:

    I will probably cry when Cecilia dies :(

  • havfruen says:

    Hope Manou checks in to say she’s ok. Horrid storm in UK and much of Northern Europe.

    • papopera says:

      We all have our Fall or Winter storms in North America. If Madame Manou survives the deluge she’ll invent a last pun before expiring.

    • manou says:

      havfruen -- just saw this. You are very kind. papopera is right, I could not be swept away without some famous last words. So it looks as if I am staying for a little while.

  • williams says:

    Thank you for your insight and erudition damekenneth. Wasn’t planning on responding again so as not to encourage further fatuous remarks but had to express appreciation.

  • DonCarloFanatic says:

    I can’t believe we’re still debating semantics about death. Bill Cosby has a joke about banging your head against the wall (?) repeatedly yet expecting a different outcome. I think this discussion of terminology and attitudes regarding death has achieved that status. We have to agree to disagree, and some people should stop writing very long lectures in attempts to be logical or to convert others--because people are au fond creatures of emotion, not logic. Very few of us are ever converted to anything via logic.

    Another point worth noting is that death is a sore subject for most of us at some time in our lives and no amount of other people telling us we should not feel unhappy makes us any happier. So don’t step on our feelings and don’t try to argue us out of them.

  • Camille says:

    Signor DeCaffarrelli——--

    Thank you once more for your, as always, informative and illuminating lectures on this genre of music, baroque-classical--whatever it may be at each instance--as it is shedding a ray of light into a deep dark musical lacuna, which I, frankly, gave up on many, many, MANY years ago. Because of your thorough explanations and careful, loving descriptions and considerable knowledge, I find I am bridging a gap too far, one I never thought to go past once more.

    Next up, the Apollo e Dafne and then the Radamisto, with which I look forward in keen anticipation, all because of you, Signor DeCaffarelli.