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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Fall 2015: My Soundtrack

A more personal blog. After shows close (and Opera McGill has just closed THREE operas in the last week and a half), I'm usually in a contemplative mood and spend oodles of time thinking about the past, looking forward to the future. It's avoidance of the present, but still…

I listen to a lot of music, but usually not opera.  At least not while I'm in the car, or commuting, or at home, or out and about. I listen to opera typically only at work or to prepare for upcoming rehearsals.

If you run into me about town, on the metro or commuter train, or even walking about the halls, you'll see my with my earbuds in, connected to my iPhone.  I'm listening to a playlist that hasn't changed much since this spring after getting back from my directing gigs in the states.

It's my soundtrack for 2015 and I just realized there was a theme at work here, truly unbeknownst to me.

My most played songs and why I think I've gravitated to them; here goes…

#1 "Viva la vida" by Coldplay
This song hits me pretty hard. It's the lyrics:
I used to rule the world
See it rise when I gave the word
Now in the morning I sleep alone
Sweep the streets I used to own
I used to roll the dice
Feel the fear in my enemies eyes
Listen as the crowd would sing "now the old king is dead, long live the king"
One minute I held the key, next the walls were closed on me
I discovered that my castles stand upon pillars of salt, pillars of sand
Coldplay Video
Oh, yes. That's the feeling I've had for a number of months now. I'm feeling a bit out of the loop, feeling that my glory days are starting to sound like those old guys I first worked with in the opera business. "I used to be someone," my ego cries, "but now no one thinks I'm relevant," my internal secret voice-of-worry whispers. So now I sweep the streets I used to own, operatically speaking, while seeing younger, and much more talented, folk running opera companies and young artist programs.

But that's, of course, not quite the truth. There's no need to wear your resume on your tee shirt so that people will know you once actually were someone at some point in time. Yet, I meet so many people who do just that. I am guilty of it, I'm sure. Why do we worry about these sorts of things? Isn't making opera, creating new productions, and mentoring the next generation enough?!

#2 "Beautiful City" from the recent revival of Godspell on Broadway:
Out of the ruins and rubble
Out of the smoke
Out of our night of struggle
Can we see a ray of hope?
One pale thin ray, reaching for the day
We can build a beautiful city
Yes we can, yes we can
We can build a beautiful city
Not a city of angels, but we can build a city of man.
We may not reach the ending
But we can start
Slowly but surely mending, brick by brick
Heart by heart...
Beautiful City video
This song is all about my emergence, via mindfulness meditation, from a haze of anxiety brought on by the stress of turning 50. I'm older (and I do think a bit wiser). But getting up and out of bed in the morning is harder and harder. Walking around the city seems to take longer. Two glasses of wine seems like four now. My body seems a bit foreign and doesn't respond like it used to. This makes someone like me worry about the future. Worry about death. Will it come quickly? Will it be a slow, painful death? Anxiety rushes in and then madness ensues.

Luckily, I found Vipassana, or Mindfulness, Meditation. And if I have a mantra, it is this song. (I used to play it in the car on my way to mediation, on endless repeat…) Healing takes time, and it is brick by brick. Step by Step. But out of these struggles, out of the darkness, there is light.

And speaking of LIGHT…

#3 "Light" from Next to Normal
We need some light
First of all we need some light
You can't sit here in the dark
And all alone
It's a sorry sight…
The price of love is loss, but still we pay
"Light" from Next To Normal (sing it Aaron!!)
It's time to get out and live; in the light. Just when any of us think our problems are the most important, you realize how lucky you are to live in the world where, for the most part, light and abundance dance all around us!

#4 "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears
Everybody Wants To Rule The World
Welcome to your life!
There's no turning back...
It's my own design
It's my own remorse
Help me to decide
Help me make the most freedom and of pleasure
Nothing ever lasts for ever
Everybody Wants to Rule the World

I did, way back in the 80s, expect to rule the world. Didn't happen.

#5 "While You See A Chance" by Steve Winwood
This has been my theme song since high school, and it is at the core of my being:
Steve Winwood
When some cold tomorrow finds you
When some sad old dream reminds you
How the endless road unwinds you
While you see a chance, take it
Find romance, make it
Because it's all on you!

I have made my success not being afraid to take a chance, to do something I had no business doing. Conduct opera? Sure. Direct opera? Sure. Administrate a multi-million dollar budget? Sure. Write a blog? Why not?
Don't wait around my friends, otherwise life just passes you by!

And of course, there's loads and loads of others. I couldn't live without Handel, Mozart, Verdi, Puccini, Barber, Brahms, or Chopin, but I couldn't get through the day without Sting, Michael Jackson, Prince, Elton John, DMB, or the Doobie Brothers!