So, I am seeing a counselor. During our last session, we started talking about live performances and how much I love them. So, of course, she gave me homework to consider during our time apart.
"I give this type of homework rarely, but I love it." Her eyes twinkled at me. "Consider your favorite live performances, like The Phantom, and figure out what it is that captures you; what makes you love it so much; and how do you identify with it?"
(Have I mentioned how much I love having a counselor in my life?)
And so, being someone that has always taken homework very seriously (and some things never change), I started thinking about live performances that I adore and that have gone into my memory books as unforgettable.
The Phantom is certainly in my top 5; and then follow a list of music concerts I've had the privilege to witness. Lots and lots of music came to mind: Jason Mraz, Dave Matthews, Duran Duran, Santana, etc... I tried to focus on The Phantom since that was the specifically plot driven or least more than my other options- and it was easy to figure out the others. The music, the feeling the music gives me; the way melodies and harmonies change the flow of my blood and jazz each cell into emotive movement. It was pretty easy to figure out the connection to those experiences.
Why do I love the Phantom?
Why have I seen it so many times? And why am I always ready to see it again?
I wondered if it was the secret relationship between Christine and Erik (the Phantom)? The fact that he shared knowledge with her that enhanced her natural ability? The drama created by the love triangle when Raoul enters? The kiss she shares with Erik- one last shared moment before she chooses to leave with Raoul and engage in a more normal life/relationship? The fact that the Phantom choose the higher road at the end and lets her go? Do I love his miserable state and want to love him?
I am tellin' you- I've been rolling it around in my head- trying to figure out what part in the plot captures me, what I identify with- and I never had that "ah-ha" moment. And I was worried- because today's date was getting closer and closer. My homework would be due, and I would have nothing to say except that my skull is still thick and the nuances that make me are still illusive- even to me.
And then it happened. iTunes was on shuffle.
And then I heard it: Masquerade by Andrew Lloyd Webber
If I remember correctly (and I do), this is the first song after the intermission. (Well, to be precise, an instrumental medley starts just after the intermission, Entr'acte). It makes me stop dead in my tracks. My blood gets hot. And, in those moments, I am consumed by the music. There is nothing else. In particular, there is this moment towards the end of the song, which has ebbed and flowed; and carried the likes of people like me to the ends of the earth and beyond, where everyone catches their breaths in order to finish- and just when you think they've given it all, the high sopranos take it higher.....and I get goose bumps every time, my eyes fill with tears. I can remember every time I've heard those high sopranos, as if the music itself is a conduit for time travel; and because of the music, each moment related to it is then related to each other.
I am amazed by the aching beauty and in awe that I can stand it, that I live beyond the end of the song. I am stunned that I possess the capability to return to normal life after such a moment.
And so, after having experienced this moment, there was a sweet spot to the return to normal- my homework was complete. It wasn't the plot. It was the music; and in particular, this song. As I dutifully (and proudly) offered my homework report to my counselor today, I started crying. Just talking about it, remembering it set me to tears.
What an amazing thing.
Here's a link to a YouTube video of the song that I am referring to: Phantom Of The Opera- Masquerade
The end starts at 4:00 mins
The sopranos at 4:28 mins
Just a note: this is a clip from the recent movie. It is a little different from the live performance, but can be just as powerful if you take the time to listen to the whole song.