Since watching Julián Hernández’s Broken Sky, I’ve been slightly obsessed with the aria that plays during my favorite scene, which I described in an earlier post. Since everything worth seeing or hearing is on Youtube, I’ve been watching clips of various divas performing this aria, “Song to the Moon” from Dvorak’s Rusalka.

My favorite version of this is Rita Streich‘s performance:

Other sopranos’ clips on Youtube include Gabriela Beňačková, LuciaPopp, and Renee Fleming. They’re all good too, but there’s something special about the clip of Rita Streich. Maybe it’s that she seems to have less polish or something.

I was first introduced to classical music through my dad. He loves Dvorak and Mahler, which probably led me to love Brahms and Tchaikovsky instead (is there a gayer form of teenage rebellion!?). But I guess I’m now coming around to appreciate Dvorak, and maybe I’ll start browsing around in his other works as well.

Perhaps oddly, music and literature were the first ways in which my dad and I could connect when I was a teenager. Since he’s my adoptive father, we had some difficulties getting along for quite some time. I think it got easier once I became a teenager and came to like some of the things he liked. He first exposed me to Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony, Pathetique, which became my favorite piece of music as a teenager and young adult. It’s very dramatic and emotional, just right for a gay teen growing up in a religiously conservative family in southeast Texas. (I listen to it now and can only just tolerate its over the top emotionalism.) He also introduced me to great books, including Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and especially Kakfa. (I still don’t know what he was thinking getting me to read The Castle!)

Once I was in college and started to come out, I increasingly distanced myself from my parents in lots of ways. It was certainly easier, since we disagree about so may things. Reconnecting with classical music and, to a lesser extent, European literature, necessarily recalls to mind those years in which these texts became a way for my dad and I to talk, connect, and bond. It may very have been his influence that first taught me to love literature and culture and that planted the first seed that eventually became my career. Listening to this aria reminds my how much I love my parents and how much I owe them, even if we don’t agree about politics, gayness, religion, love, or just about any other topic. If we can’t talk about how much I love PJ, maybe we can talk about how much I love a piece of music like this.

Maybe I’ve finally reached the age at which gay men suddenly become opera queens! I would love to start learning more about the great divas. PJ and I have been listening to operas on cd lately. And we’re talking about going to one sometime soon in Cincinnati or Columbus. Can an all out Maria Callas obsession be far behind?!

Though I must say that I still love 18th-century music the best, followed by Brahms, and Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony. But I want to broaden my classical horizons a bit more. Maybe this will even include some Mahler too!