“Death be not Proud”


Death Be Not Proud

Paul Gruber

August 21,2006

So much of opera revolves around death, that opera-lovers have come to accept – if not to expect – that few dramatic operas end with all characters still standing.  But although the operatic specter usually remains on the bright side of the footlights, I recall two stories in which the realities of death touched members of the audience.
The first was related to me by Dario Soria, a pioneering recording producer.  He remembered attending a performance by his friend Maria Callas in Tosca, and on this particular night, her stabbing of Scarpia seemed so real – and so savage – that a member of the audience seated near Dario died of a heart attack immediately afterwards.  The singers were unaware of this, and when Dario went to see Callas after the performance, he made the mistake of telling her.  She was devastated by the thought that she could have contributed to someone’s death, and it was some time before she would forgive Dario for telling her.
On the brighter side, the devotion of many opera-lovers can outweigh their reaction to the death of a loved one. Years ago, when I was running the Guild’s ticket service, a woman called on a Thursday, and haltingly explained that she was unable to use her tickets for the performance that Friday night, as her husband had just died, and his funeral was to be held on Friday morning. She was told that we would be happy to exchange her tickets, and was asked when she would like to attend.  Without hesitating, she answered, “the matinee the next day.”

~ by aprilemillo on June 25, 2007.

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