Happy Halloween. I see the disadvantages of the holiday; as my oldest sister once said, “Why don’t we have a day when people don’t dress up like freaks and make noise?” but when I moved into my house about eight years ago I enjoyed handing out sweets; any other day of the year handing candy to stray children would get you arrested, but on this day this random act of kindness is beloved tradition. Or it was until the last few years. I had fewer and fewer trick-or-treaters, until one year I was calling the Dads up from the sidewalk and giving them candy and dumping bags into the hands of teenagers who weren’t even wearing costumes. I decided to give it up after that, so today I will simply post a tale of terror:
I read Campbell Vertesi’s recent entry on awkward uses of opera arias (link to the right, people!), which also refers back to an entry by the upstanding young men of Wellsung about an awkward experience with a chorus performing Salome and real-life fifteen-year-old dancers.
This put me in mind of a similarly scarring experience I had, though it doesn’t involve opera but rather opera’s stepchild, the musical (and not even opera’s stepchild: opera’s stepchild’s bastard offspring, sitting vacant-eyed and snapping gum on the steps of the trailer while waiting for Uncle Pa to bring home some road-kill squirrel for supper: yes, the rock musical). This was back in the 1970s, when many Catholic churches were making an ill-advised attempt to ignite interest among the young people (who were all the rage back in the day) by using pop songs as hymns.
Do you remember Godspell? Do you remember “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” (“Him” being Jesus), which includes such lines as “and I’ve had so many men before / in very many ways, He’s just one more”? Well, you would never forget them if you heard them sung during mass by a chubby pubescent girl, awkwardly swaying in front of statues of the holy family.
I’ve been trying to think of something to add, but the renewed moment is searing my brain pan. Let me just say: Palestrina or silence, please.
Addendum: I've just been informed that "I Don't Know How to Love Him" is from Jesus Christ Superstar, not Godspell. Same difference, but I do like to be accurate.
The Beethoven Project
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