No. 13 – Lucky for some…
One such highlight was watching Aida from the comfort of the VIP lounge of the Bregenzer Seebühne. I’ll never forget that massive golden elephant sailing on-stage and the tiny boat, carrying the two lovers, floating across the Bregenzer sky-line during the final act. The boat, representing death and posthumous re-union, lifted effortlessly, dreamily and silently into the night by two giant cranes flanking the stage – a stage which was half submerged in water throughout the performance.
A proper water opera!
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Or witnessing Stevie Wonder open the Moon and Stars festival in Locarno on a hot summer evening, the surrounding houses of the Piazza in multicolour. How he walked on stage slowly but deliberately, playing a key-board strapped lengthways to the front of his body and when reaching the front of the stage lay on the floor in complete trust, still playing.
His words at the end of a spectacular show; If you have a heart, love somebody! If your heart is big enough, love everybody! Reminding me of my mother’s life philosophy (unspoken, of course)!
Entertaining people from all over the world and travelling around the half of Switzerland with some wonderful Australians – that was fun! The memorable dinner parties with friends in the garden and the quiet times too, come to mind. The evenings in front of the garden house and the warm nights sitting outside. The morning teas before it got too hot… and basically, the beauty of living in such a garden and in accordance with the rhythm of nature.
Hard to imagine! It’s now -12° and those days seem far away. I still look over to the garden house when I come back from a walk and watch how things change, every day. Today the hoary branches of the trees are cactus-like. White barbed wire or spiky beards hanging from every twig that used to sprout green… The days are bathed in a blue light and we’re clearly drawing close to mid-winter.
It’s a good time to take stock – remember friends. The simple message seems to be – stay warm, read… write… scribble… slow down… move closer… and also – look forward to new things yet to come.
I was prompted to read an article in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung last week by a friend who is a banker. It was written by John Banville, (The Sea, incidentally also a good read, beautifully fluid) – and is a sober assessment of Ireland’s present predicament. Strange that I now read articles that first appeared in the New York Times but have been translated from the original into German. ‘Der Schuldner der westlichen Welt’ was the title – probably meaning precious little to the average person from Zürich. Translated into German, I’m also sure no-one really got that he was using the title bravely, echoing J. M. Singe’s ‘Playboy of the Western World’. Associations of A-level or was it O-level Irish literature classes…? And seeing the production in the Abbey theater in Dublin… Feeling really grown-up!
Banville rounded up his essay by using two very old-fashioned words: grace and integrity. Words worth remembering… and I realized those are the words I connect with the people who mean most to me. My family and my closest friends… And I feel very lucky indeed!
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*Painting: Erato, Muse of Poetry by Sir Edward John Poynter, 1870