My seeing Verdi's operatic warhorse Il Trovatore at the Metropolitan Opera had more to do with contingency than with choice (it was the only production I could see during the few days of my stay in the city). But as with many of my activities it now seems, in the context of the concerns of My Year 2009, appropriate. Like so many of the essays of this year, the plot of Verdi's opera is also about "facing the heat," the characters having to endure the punishments for their own present errors and judgment as well as the sins of their ancestors of the past.
In the gypsy camp the gypsies sing of their tireless work, their spirits raised only by the site of a pretty woman, the famed anvil chorus, performed in this production as an almost sexual assertion of masculinity. Indeed, the strikes of the hammers upon the anvil sent almost real sparks into the audience, and certainly Verdi's joyous chestnut does foretell of the fire of the past and of the future.
New York, May 9, 2009