Singers talk all the time about how they sing, what they sing, where they sing… but far less often do we expound on the reasons why. While many of us are indeed aware of the curative powers our career skills can have for others, we may be less likely to put them to work for our own benefit. Even “singing the blues” is so often relegated to cliché that we forget the roots and real value of the genre. Sometimes song is the best medicine, and even an aimless tune can quite literally be a lifesaver.
Miguel de Cervantes is best known for writing Don Quixote, one of the most influential novels of all time. He’s famous enough that we need only his last name to identify him. (Kinda like Cher?) But he lived a fascinating patchwork life, from working for the church, in the military, and for the Spanish court, as a buyer for the massive Spanish Armada. He was a POW for five years. After being a tax collector for a few years, he spent time in jail when his accounts were called into question. In short, this man knew woe. He knew obstacles. Yet he managed to write extraordinary works of art that live on, celebrated and vibrant, more than four hundred years later.
If that isn’t a reason to sing, in his honor and for ourselves, what is?
“He who sings scares away his woes.”
Historic windmills: This DVD of the 2010 Belgian production of Massenet’s masterwork chronicles the stage farewell of José Van Dam, with an acclaimed performance by the heralded bass-baritone, who was nearly 70 at the time. It’s an essential addition for a well-rounded opera library.
2 thoughts on “Crooning in the face of trouble”
Speaking of which… Ars Technica reports, “Amazon commits to Terry Gilliam’s ‘lost’ Don Quixote film.”
The world is clearly not done with this tale yet, and good for us.
I remember many years ago watching a scifi program on TV where music had become the medicine that they used. They had some kind of instrument that they put up on someone’s hurt arm, and voila his arm was totally repaired. I also remember when I was a young struggling singer in New York City. Sometimes I would stand alone in my little room in the Studio Club for Young Women in the Arts, and I would start singing “Nobody knows the trouble I seen”. After about an hour I had taken my self on an emotional journey from various kinds of despair to great hopefulness and intention… ending up singing “Zippity do da”. The self -help books I have read I don’t think mentioned singing. Yes, it is a medicine for our selves, too. Once again we singers can revel in the portability of our instrument.