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When Love Goes Wrong….Composers and Librettists Go “Yay!”

February 14th, 2013

We would like to remind those who will be alone on Valentine’s Day that the Music Library will be open from 9 am to 10 pm, and our audiovisual stacks offer a wide array of reminders that the course of true love does not run particularly smoothly. For the Taylor Swiftian who just knows that if you’re nice and helpful enough, your beloved is bound to leave hir current stormy relationship and start dating you, La Gioconda offers a warning (also a reminder that Les Miserables is far from the only bizarre Victor Hugo plot rendered into popular musical entertainment.)  Take it from Lucia di Lammermoor‘s Arturo: if she doesn’t want to be with you, she really doesn’t want to be with you!

Found your perfect mate? Sure nothing can go wrong? Otello and his bride might have something to say about that. Elsa from Lohengrin would probably advise you to be happy with what you have and not ask too many questions, while Judith from Bluebeard’s Castle might modify that recommendation and suggest you ask the questions before you and your intended are isolated together in a gloomy stronghold. Does s/he have controlling, overbearing relatives? Does s/he have a problem with drinking, drugs, gambling or infidelity?  Does s/he just have problems, full stop?  And if you doubt the need for a pre-nup, consider the fate of Elisabetta in Don Carlo: don’t let your prospective father-in-law substitute himself for your bridegroom at the last minute.

If you and your Ms. or Mr. Right are thinking of having kids, Peter and Gertrud from Hänsel und Gretel would urge you to find competent and reliable child care.  Asking Kostelnička Buryjovka or Azucena from Il Trovatore, for example, would be a bad idea. Make sure your babysitter clearly understands and follows all instructionsBandits, pirates, enemy soldiers and other wanderers are everywhere, just waiting to seize your precious little bundle and raise him or her as one of their own.  (And if you must split up, you’ll probably want a better custody plan than the one in Medea.)

If, on the other hand, your beloved just wants somebody who isn’t you (and you don’t feel comfortable stabbing, betraying or poisoning them) why not be like two of the greatest characters in all opera and graciously let them go?  The beautiful music you get to sing, and the respect from other characters in the opera, might make the whole thing worth it!  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Sarah Barton

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