Monday, September 21, 2020

Post-Corona Dreamin’

There’s no way to sugar-coat this.  Despite recent easing of restrictions in some States, the last seven months have been extremely difficult on all of us, clearly more on some than on others. 

 


Since the Covid-19 shutdown we have all been doing our best to deal with businesses closing, depleted shelves and social isolation on an unprecedented scale.  My greatest fear is that this prolonged isolation has forever altered the DNA of the American spirit.  At the very least, that spirit has been battered and bruised beyond recognition.  And this is not just an idle observation from someone not personally affected by the reason for the shutdown.  My husband and I are both Covid-19 survivors contracted in New York well before the shutdown, so I know of what I speak. 

As the days run together seemingly without difference or distinction, I now understand how Downton Abbey’s Dowager Duchess felt when she asked the burning question “What’s a weekend?” 


 
Graphic by Kanako of My Little Paris

No longer can we celebrate together, mourn together, worship together or share a meal together.  Social interaction was already decreasing at an alarming rate before the shutdown as more and more of our lives revolve around the devices we are hooked up to that physically isolate us from each other.  Face Time, Skype and Zoom are poor substitutes for being able to clink a glass with a loved one and say “Cheers.” 

The question on everyone’s lips now is – “How Much Longer?”

When I was little, grandfather George, who lived through the Spanish Flu, the Great Depression and two World Wars, used to say “God deliver me from experts and professional do-gooders.”  As a child I didn’t know what he meant; I do now.  


 

 

Foraging for food, toilet paper and whatever else is suddenly in short supply occupies our time, and our thoughts revolve around trying to remember what our pre-Coronavirus lives were like and wondering what “normal” will look like a week, a month, a year from now.

Will things ever be the same? 

As restaurants, museums and theaters shut down in New York, our beloved Metropolitan Opera cancelled the rest of its Season.  Our final performance of Tosca should have been on April 11th and would have been a fabulous way to end the Season. 

 

 

 

Vittorio Grigolo and Sonya Yoncheva Photo by Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera

Tosca, by Giacomo Puccini, is one of my favorites.  It takes place in early 19th Century Rome and has everything you love about the operatic experience – love, lust, jealousy, betrayal, political intrigue, murder and suicide.  Doesn’t get any better than that!  

The title character is, in fact, a famous opera singer.  It’s a dream role for any soprano both vocally and dramatically.  She gets to make love to the good guy (the tenor), kill the bad guy (the baritone), and at the end of the opera, after flinging out a few final high notes, she gets to hurl herself off the parapet of the Castel Sant’Angelo to her death.  It’s a thrilling but risky moment for the soprano and, as you’d expect, there have been some mishaps over the years. 


 

 

Normally, a pile of mattresses is provided backstage to break the soprano’s fall surrounded by stagehands to make sure she lands safely.  Today’s more svelte sopranos have no compunction about making that death-defying leap to their operatic deaths to great effect.  One of my all-time favorite sopranos the beautiful Catherine Malfitano (see above) was known for throwing herself into every role she sang. 

In the past, however, those sopranos who came in the large, economy size approached that moment a bit more gingerly.  I’ve seen some who looked as if they were just stepping down stairs.  And then there’s the famous case where stagehands used a trampoline instead of a pile of mattresses.  Suddenly inspired that night to hurl herself off the parapet with abandon, the buxom soprano hit the trampoline with such force that she bounced back up in full view of the stunned audience.  They say she never sang the role again. 

Will I ever again sit in a darkened opera house and watch another Tosca jump off the parapets of the Castel Sant’Angelo?  Will I ever again feel the thrill of a live performance?   

There are three keys to a happy life:

Having Someone to Love;

Having Something to Do; and

Having Something to Look Forward to.

That last key continues to elude my grasp.  And so I sit lost in Post-Corona dreamin’ about the way things will be when this long nightmare is over.  I dream about being in France again and sitting around the table with family and friends.  I dream of clinking glasses and celebrating anything and everything and being able to see faces without masks smiling and laughing, their eyes bright with love and unclouded by the fear of being too close. 




From France Today

I dream that things will be what they once were.  Am I Don Quixote tilting at windmills and dreaming the impossible dream?  Perhaps, but it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been willing to march into hell for a heavenly cause. 



7 comments:

  1. Dearest Marie-Thérèse,
    Your blog in the browser reads: Not Secure, you should check your settings under HTTPS to ensure a redirect to it.
    Well, what a time we all have behind us and it is still very vague what lies ahead!
    Hoping that after the elections, it will calm down...
    Both of us have used this lockdown period in the BEST way, by publishing our scientific but practical book: modern mushroom growing 2020 harvesting: https://mariettesbacktobasics.blogspot.com/2020/08/modern-mushroom-growing-2020-harvesting.html
    What a feeling for having that done. Self publishing with worldwide print on demand was the most complicated option but we did it.
    Now trying to get all postponed medical appointments out of the way. My long postponed cataract surgery is my biggest concern. But I got a negative reply, due to so many cancellations they only can see me the 3rd week of October and surgery 2 months later!!! Could not believe my ears, they will fit me in IF there is another cancellation.
    No telling what this all has caused so far.
    Our friend and Lady Chef Maria is still stuck in Italy, she flew to Milan for renewing her work permit etc., still not allowed to fly back to the USA. Meanwhile she buried her Mom, in a sad way, it was good for her being there in the final weeks.
    So many trips had to be cancelled by many. Tourism is suffering and above all the restaurants... we both feel for them, as for the farmers; delivering the produce and now being cut off completely. So sad and devastating.
    Both of us have been going to Church for months, every other pew is sealed off and you have to space out... So odd and no books are being used!
    This Saturday we will have the joy of going to the theatre for a performance of the Atlanta Pops, an excellent performance every year. Seats were limited, with mask wearing and spacing and no congregation anywhere! But we made it so far to reserve our spot.
    Hard to plan your life at this point. Being patient is almost too much asked.
    Well, looking at our kitties, they don't seem to worry too much but then they don't have to plan for groceries and other household goods.
    Our home needed some repair and on April 24 they promised to start but have not yet... What can we do? People are scared too.
    Hope you both regained your full strength and build up enough immune system to live on.
    Eating healthy and being in the outdoors is good, we try to bike as much as possible but had so much rain during the hurricane season. Nothing seems to work according to plan.
    Sending you both hugs and for the rest, we better pray hard; very hard!
    Mariette

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  2. Dear Marie-Therese - I am very sorry to read that both you and your husband experienced this very alarming virus illness and I hope you had a health worker to check up on you during the debilitating time. I was wondering and missing your posts.
    I hope you are well over all this and the aftermath will not linger much longer. It seems to have left you in a melancholy state. This too will pass and I look forward to receiving your usual cheery posts again. I love the way you combine your French/American cultures.
    Best wishes,
    Anne

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  3. I so enjoyed seeing your blog. I have subscribed to it and it has been a long time. I am glad that things are relativlygood there with you. They are here as well. This has been a terrible year in several ways but I am grateful to be here to complain. :-)

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  4. The vision of the soprano bouncing back up off the trampoline has just made my day!
    It is very interesting to hear from Covid19 survivors. I can only imagine what NYC was like in those dark, early days. My family and I are luckier than most, with jobs to go to and uninterrupted income, and a farm to keep us busy and outside. I can wait for a vaccine and an end to all this, but I worry about all the parts of our former lives which will never return.

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  5. Comment Sent to Me by my Friend Anna:

    Hard to imagine we ever get back to where we were before. Opera, concerts, museum, lunches and dinners out, book clubs, travel, and I could go on. Sitting home is normal and only venture out for haircuts and doctors. But I am grateful we have several friends who do not lock themselves in and we see them for dinners frequently.

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  6. Dear Marie-Therese, I share your pain with our beloved Opera. At least the Met has been incredibly generous with their free stream. We binge watched every night then bought the subscription to watch at our leisure. It isn't the same, but we have loved getting familiar with divas that we hadn't seen here in Australia. We sponsor young opera singers and have had immense pleasure following their careers seeing them perform or compete in competitions. This is what I truly miss. In terms of something to do, I highly recommend joining Rotary International. I have become involved in Polio eradication, and in bringing more diversity, equity and Inclusion to Australia by introducing a Canadian initiative, HIP (Honouring Indigenous Peoples) to Australia. But there are so many areas to devote your time giving back to the world and gaining these beloved values that you fear are fast going. You will find it still runs strong in Rotarians, who believe in 'Service above self". Environment, Disease eradication, water and sanitation projects, Maternal and child health, community development, Peace making, Education and local community work. It gives you an opportunity to be so much more than you could imagine. Rotary is also involved in Opera scholarships!! Melissa

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  7. Good to have you back blogging, M-T. Missed you. We won't return to normal until next summer at the earliest I suspend, when perhaps vaccines are ready for distribution. Yes, a Twilight-type nightmare it has been, and yet not as difficult as living through a famine, or a war if we are pressed to think about it. I am sick to-death of mostly me, myself and I. :)

    I also enjoy the energy of entertainment seated in a full house. Who imagined, it would have to go away for a long while?

    And too, I tend to be somewhat of an observer in life, and when I arrived in New York City I distinctly remember meeting a type of person who is out every night of the week, sitting in a theatre, ballet, movie, opera — so they are busy, busy, busy, but solitary and I have often wondered what would happen if suddenly they lost the ability to keep themselves distracted? If always running, you think you have a full life when it doesn't include developing friendships or nurturing other people. This could be a time of introspection for the people who are capable of it. Some are not and others are solitary by nature. One wonders if they are finding this period hard to get through too?

    I'm so happy to not have to deal with schools for myself or as a parent! So a side blessing!

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