ALGIBEIRA

1.5.13

2.8.11

The Crimson Petal and the White


Watch your step. Keep your wits about you; you will need them. This city I am bringing you to is vast and intricate, and you have not been here before. You may imagine, from other stories you’ve read, that you know it well, but those stories flattered you, welcoming you as a friend, treating you as if you belonged. The truth is that you are an alien from another time and place altogether.

When I first caught your eye and you decided to come with me, you were probably thinking you would simply arrive and make yourself at home. Now that you’re actually here, the air is bitterly cold, and you find yourself being led along in complete darkness, stumbling on uneven ground, recognising nothing. Looking left and right, blinking against an icy wind, you realise you have entered an unknown street of unlit houses full of unknown people.

And yet you did not choose me blindly. Certain expectations were aroused. Let’s not be coy: you were hoping I would satisfy all the desires you’re too shy to name, or at least show you a good time. Now you hesitate, still holding on to me, but tempted to let me go. When you first picked me up, you didn’t fully appreciate the size of me, nor did you expect I would grip you so tightly, so fast. Sleet stings your cheeks, sharp little spits of it so cold they feel hot, like fiery cinders in the wind. Your ears begin to hurt.

But you’ve allowed yourself to be led astray, and it’s too late to turn back now.

Michel Faber - The Crimson Petal and the White


21.6.11

THE PREFACE


The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim. The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.

The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography. Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.

Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty.

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

The nineteenth century dislike of realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.

The nineteenth century dislike of romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass. The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium. No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved. No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style. No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything. Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art. Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art. From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician. From the point of view of feeling, the actor's craft is the type. All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril. Those who read the symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors. Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself. We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.

All art is quite useless.

Oscar Wilde
The Picture of Dorian Gray

3.6.11

Semen est verbum Dei

Há-de tomar o pregador uma só matéria; há-de defini-la, para que se conheça; há-de dividi-la, para que se distinga; há-de prová-la com a Escritura; há-de declará-la com a razão; há-de confirmá-la com o exemplo; há-de amplificá-la com as causas, com os efeitos, com as circunstâncias, com as conveniências que se hão-de seguir, com os inconvenientes que se devem evitar; há-de responder às dúvidas, há-de satisfazer às dificuldades; há-de impugnar e refutar com toda a força da eloquência os argumentos contrários; e depois disto há-de colher, há-de apertar, há-de concluir, há-de persuadir, há-de acabar. Isto é sermão, isto é pregar; e o que não é isto, é falar de mais alto.

Não nego nem quero dizer que o sermão não haja de ter variedade de discursos, mas esses hão-de nascer todos da mesma matéria e continuar e acabar nela. Quereis ver tudo isto com os olhos? Ora vede. Uma árvore tem raízes, tem tronco, tem ramos, tem folhas, tem varas, tem flores, tem frutos. Assim há-de ser o sermão: há-de ter raízes fortes e sólidas, porque há-de ser fundado no Evangelho; há-de ter um tronco, porque há-de ter um só assunto e tratar uma só matéria; deste tronco hão-de nascer diversos ramos, que são diversos discursos, mas nascidos da mesma matéria e continuados nela; estes ramos hão-de ser secos, senão cobertos de folhas, porque os discursos hão-de ser vestidos e ornados de palavras. Há-de ter esta árvore varas, que são a repreensão dos vícios; há-de ter flores, que são as sentenças; e por remate de tudo, há-de ter frutos, que é o fruto e o fim a que se há-de ordenar o sermão. De maneira que há-de haver frutos, há-de haver flores, há-de haver varas, há-de haver folhas, há-de haver ramos; mas tudo nascido e fundado em um só tronco, que é uma só matéria. Se tudo são troncos, não é sermão, é madeira. Se tudo são ramos, não é sermão, são maravalhas. Se tudo são folhas, não é sermão, são versas. Se tudo são varas, não é sermão, é feixe. Se tudo são flores, não é sermão, é ramalhete. Serem tudo frutos, não pode ser; porque não há frutos sem árvore. Assim que nesta árvore, à que podemos chamar «árvore da vida», há-de haver o proveitoso do fruto, o formoso das flores, o rigoroso das varas, o vestido das folhas, o estendido dos ramos; mas tudo isto nascido e formado de um só tronco e esse não levantado no ar, senão fundado nas raízes do Evangelho: Seminare semen. Eis aqui como hão-de ser os sermões, eis aqui como não são. E assim não é muito que se não faça fruto com eles.

Padre António Vieira

In “Sermão da sexagésima”

Pregado na Capela Real, no ano de 1655

19.5.11

SOMEWHERE

'Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?'

'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.

'I don't much care where--' said Alice.

'Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat.

'--so long as I get SOMEWHERE,' Alice added as an explanation.

Lewis Carroll
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

15.5.11



What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.


William Shakespeare
Romeo and Juliet

9.9.10

LXXIII

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed, whereon it must expire,
Consum'd with that which it was nourish'd by.
This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well, which thou must leave ere long.

William Shakespeare
Sonnets

8.4.10

Lisbon revisited

Nada me prende a nada.
Quero cinquenta coisas ao mesmo tempo.
Anseio com uma angústia de fome de carne
O que não sei que seja -
Definidamente pelo indefinido...
Durmo irrequieto, e vivo num sonhar irrequieto
De quem dorme irrequieto, metade a sonhar.

Fecharam-me todas as portas abstractas e necessárias.
Correram cortinas de todas as hipóteses que eu poderia ver da rua.
Não há na travessa achada o número da porta que me deram.

Acordei para a mesma vida para que tinha adormecido.
Até os meus exércitos sonhados sofreram derrota.
Até os meus sonhos se sentiram falsos ao serem sonhados.
Até a vida só desejada me farta - até essa vida...

Compreendo a intervalos desconexos;
Escrevo por lapsos de cansaço;
E um tédio que é até do tédio arroja-me à praia.
Não sei que destino ou futuro compete à minha angústia sem leme;
Não sei que ilhas do sul impossível aguardam-me naufrago;
ou que palmares de literatura me darão ao menos um verso.

Não, não sei isto, nem outra coisa, nem coisa nenhuma...
E, no fundo do meu espírito, onde sonho o que sonhei,
Nos campos últimos da alma, onde memoro sem causa
(E o passado é uma névoa natural de lágrimas falsas),
Nas estradas e atalhos das florestas longínquas
Onde supus o meu ser,
Fogem desmantelados, últimos restos
Da ilusão final,
Os meus exércitos sonhados, derrotados sem ter sido,
As minhas cortes por existir, esfaceladas em Deus.

Outra vez te revejo,
Cidade da minha infãncia pavorosamente perdida...
Cidade triste e alegre, outra vez sonho aqui...

Eu? Mas sou eu o mesmo que aqui vivi, e aqui voltei,
E aqui tornei a voltar, e a voltar.
E aqui de novo tornei a voltar?
Ou somos todos os Eu que estive aqui ou estiveram,
Uma série de contas-entes ligados por um fio-memória,
Uma série de sonhos de mim de alguém de fora de mim?

Outra vez te revejo,
Com o coração mais longínquo, a alma menos minha.

Outra vez te revejo - Lisboa e Tejo e tudo -,
Transeunte inútil de ti e de mim,
Estrangeiro aqui como em toda a parte,
Casual na vida como na alma,
Fantasma a errar em salas de recordações,
Ao ruído dos ratos e das tábuas que rangem
No castelo maldito de ter que viver...

Outra vez te revejo,
Sombra que passa através das sombras, e brilha
Um momento a uma luz fúnebre desconhecida,
E entra na noite como um rastro de barco se perde
Na água que deixa de se ouvir...

Outra vez te revejo,
Mas, ai, a mim não me revejo!
Partiu-se o espelho mágico em que me revia idêntico,
E em cada fragmento fatídico vejo só um bocado de mim -
Um bocado de ti e de mim!...

Álvaro de Campos

8.3.10

La Traviata


In the year 1853 Verdi had seen Alexander Dumas’ “La dame aux carmélias”. It was interesting especially because of the society reasons. It was a story about the writer’s love to a famous Parisian courtesan Marie Duplessis. He was so encharmed with her that he forgot about his strict rules and squandered his money. His financial status forced him to leave her. But after her death (she died of tuberculosis in the age of 23), his feeling flared up again. He dedicated one of his best romances to her – at first as a novel and later as a theatrical performance.

Verdi was very brave to choose this romance for his new libretto. In sinful Paris the story had a taste of scandal, in religious Italy it was a scandal. The first performance was a failure. The audience couldn’t accept that the main character is an immoral courtesan and what’s more she is a likable person, the only positive in the play. It didn’t like that the opera took place in the present (they wanted orientalism and history) and that the heroine dies in a banal way – from tuberculosis, in her own bed. Those people didn’t see that it was a monument for one of the most important parts of life in Italy – the family. The courtesan Violetta lives together with Alfredo because she wants to have a family after the years of loneliness. She agrees to leave him only after she has been convinced by his father that it is for his own good. She sacrifices her love to rescue the family of her beloved. She knows that the family is the most important; she is understood better by Alfredo’s father than the boy himself. Their duet in which Violetta asks for holding her tight just as a father holds his daughter is the central part of the opera.

After the failure Verdi changed his work a little bit. He placed it at the beginning of XIXth century and he changed the title: from the irritating "La Traviata" ("The Fallen Woman") to a neutral "Violetta". This time, in Venece, it was a success (and only a year later!).

Today this opera is a quintessence of opera’s style. For example, the synopsis: a story of young people, who cannot be together because of the social conventions and the family of a boy. However it is encharming because of Verdi’s music: subtle, sometimes passionate. There are many popular parts in this opera, especially including a duet "Libiamo"!

Synopsis. Paris, the second half of XIXth century. A beautiful courtesan Violetta abandons her happy but empty life and binds with s young nobleman Alfred Germont. His father demands that Violetta leaves, because this relationship disgraces the Germont family. Violetta agrees for Alfredo’s sake, however he doesn’t know the reason and offends her in public. Abandoned by everybody, poor and ill, Violetta is dying all alone. In her last moments the Germonts arrive – Alfred found out about everything and begs her to forgive him. Violetta dies.



Anna Netrebko & Rolando Villazón in Verdi's La Traviata at the Salzburg Festival, conducted by Carlo Rizzi and directed by Willy Decker.

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