Thursday, August 30, 2007

A Physical Response to Beauty

Breathing, heart beating, blushing -- all beyond our control. We don't make them happen. They just happen.

Sometimes I see or hear something so beautiful that a physical response just happens -- also, beyond my control & always a "wonder" to me. Warmth in my gut spreads quickly upward to my face, which gets hot. I suspect I'm beet red. Then tears spill out, impossible to block. I wish I understood the sensory-physical-chemical inter-relationships that enable this feeling, which is profound.

I absolutely remember the first time I experienced this "severe appreciation of art"! In 1974 we crossed the country in 2 cars to move from flat Louisiana to dramatically beautiful Pacific Northwest. We spent a month along the way tenting in national parks whenever possible. I will never forget the morning when I came out of our tent into the glorious sunshine & saw the Grand Tetons, snow-capped, & framed by the park's huge evergreens & lake.
(Photo by Jackson Hole Photos). I had really never seen mountains or majestic, tall evergreens. It was breathtaking. Also, after 33 years, I still get that feeling whenever I'm driving around a curve in Seattle & see Mt. Rainier looming high above the horizon!

But let me hear certain segments of music & the feeling is even more profound. The bad news is that I simply can't get that musical phrase out of my head. For a day or 2, I'll mentally play it over and over, which can really disrupt any serious attempt to work.

Last night a friend sent me an audio/video clip, which is stuck in my brain today. I've probably played the actual clip 5 times total, & each time this same feeling of almost-aching pleasure overtakes me. (And whatever you might be relating this feeling to, I'd say -- Yeah, almost as good as that!) Then the tears come -- each time! I wasted many tissues over this piece. Today's blog post was supposed to be Part 2 of Photography, the Agony of Defeat. But why fight it? My brain just wants to hum this music & write about the utter joy I feel every time I see/hear the clip!

PROPOSAL FOR YOU: Please watch the clip with the volume turned up & your Kleenex handy. (Click the website link in the column on the right, "Too Beautiful to Bear..." It takes about 3 minutes.) It would be fun to know what "art" (in the broadest sense) you've encountered that gives you this pleasure. Please 'COMMENT' back!. (Just click the blue "Comments" link below this post & write in the box. Then decide if you want to be anonymous, sign your initials, name, or login to Google. No problem, regardless. Your comments will appear after I read them & weed-out the spam & the ultra-weird.) I hope you enjoy the clip! HERE'S A PROMISE: I'll get back on track in my next post :)


Ken Sommers said...

Yes, Cheryl, I got tears. Just as I did at last year's Fresno Opera performance of Puccini's Turandot, where this is an aria in the last act. I was a longtime opera season-ticket holder for the Seattle Opera, and now must content myself with the Fresno Opera (all of 2 operas per year). Many times I get goosebumps at these performances, but usually not during the tenor solos. The numbers that get me are the duets and trios where the harmonies and differing cadences of the singers blend together so beautifully (try the "Lucia Sextet" from Donizetti's Lucia de Lammermour.)

But enough about opera. I think there were some compounding emotional pulls with Paul Potts' BGT performance. He did not look the part and he was so modest and unassuming (we always seem to respond to underdogs). It also helped that they showed all those audience and judge panel shots of the females in tears and the males swallowing hard.

Anonymous said...

I discovered Puccini coming home in the evening from Grad school. I think his arias, particularly Nessum Dorma, got me through some hard times. Then there was a magical evening in my living room where a group of Chinese musicians (mostly string players)..aka ESL students... gathered to celebrate the Xmas holidays with their teacher and her neighbors. The highlight of the evening was the Chinese tenor who could not speak English but could sing opera in five different languages. He sang Nessun Dorma to spellbound Americans. It was an evening that even an old brain like mine will never forget!

Treat yourself to some Puccini arias one day!


ambika said...

That was pretty amazing and definitely brought a lizard tear to the eye. I'm very opera ignorant but it was lovely to see the crowd (who are probably in the same shoes) appreciating it regardless. I've always loved "O Mio Babbino Caro" but I can only blame 'Room with a View' for that one and not any sophistication on my part. Lovely post & I'll definitely be doing some reading on that singer. it sounds like an interesting story.

Anonymous said...

SGII says: Tears didn't fall, but they did well. I agree with Ken S,; I think it was a combination of the song and the situation. It was the unexpected thrill of that voice, the audience's response, and the look on the judges' faces. I've heard Nessum Dorma many times and didn't feel that way. I'm not an opera buff, but have been wanting to become more familiar with it for some time. About 20 years ago I went to a dress rehersal for one of the comedic operas (Rossini?) and thoroughly enjoyed it-the music and "what happens before the real thing." However, Wagner's Ring may take awhile.

imakecutestuff said...

Ohhhh man. That was SO great! I always tear up a bit when watching those talent shows...especially when the performer is surprisingly great at what they do! It always makes me happy to see someone doing what they really LOVE to do...