For years singing has been my main form of creative expression, a companion in times of anger and grief and ecstasy. I have songs that have comforted me in loneliness, songs that have expressed my grief or anger or determination… an expression for the most personal emotions.
But now that seems to have changed. Today I played the accompaniment to one of my arias, but, not for the first time, before I had sung the first phrase I was sobbing. Not surprising; the music is a beautiful evocation of profound loss, in phrases that seems to stretch out eternally – just as grieving often feels it will last forever.
Here is one of my favourite recordings, and here are the words:
Ah! non credea mirarti _________Ah, I can’t believe I see you
Sì presto estinto, o fiore; ____ ___So quickly wilted, flower
Passasti al par d’amore, ________You have faded with the love
Che un giorno sol durò. _____ ___That lasted only a day
Potria novel vigore ___________Maybe my tears
Il pianto mio recarti… _________Could bring the flower to life again
Ma ravvivar l’amore _______ __But reawakening love
Il pianto mio non può. _________Is not something tears can do.
Music, especially vocal music, has amazing power to draw out emotions…. But at the same time, so many of the sentiments expressed are so unhelpful – they give such a limited picture of what it was to be in love.
Operatic love is generally a highly clingy, intense, demanding and jealous emotion that mostly ends badly – the only prospect of a happy resolution is for the heroine to get the hero back at the end, rather than ever being able to recover and be strong and independent on her own!
I felt that singing these arias was encouraging thoughts that were increasing rather than relieving my pain. Perhaps for some there is a cathartic effect that comes from acknowledging the power of these feelings, but it felt more like a very powerful way to drive deeper into my psyche the feeling of being lost without him. And that seemed such a misdirection of the emotional power of singing – to exaggerate pain rather than to heal.
So I have been wondering if I can use my singing in some way that is more healing. I think one of my gifts as a singer is to communicate emotion in a way that touches people – can I find a way to use that power to help people rather than to seek the limelight?