Saturday, April 4, 2009

Putting off the Blitz

Okay, people, let's deal with the latest.
Having spent some of my youthful days with the Vancouver Sun, I know what it is to see the day's supposed headlines get kicked into a cocked hat. I was there when Paul St. Pierre and Barry Broadfoot, later both well published authors. but then humble newspapermen, get in a wrangle over the sudden shift in the front page makeup for the first edition of a given weekday. Broadfoot swore that the information coming in over the police radio blatting into the newsroom meant a kidnapping, thus a new headline for the 10 a.m; Paul said balderdash, and lost to managing editor Erwin Swangard's decision on the matter. It was in truth only an episode between separated husband and wife over the child, but a headline is a headline.
I came up here to see if I could get closer the conclusion of "Grizzly Gorman", and found I had two hits on my blog, one from one of the world's great photographers, for the last decades domiciled in New Zealand, the other from number two son, long a householder in Calgary. They both need to know that I have just written to Mark Knopfler's handlers in Toronto, in the hope that he can be something for my peace of mind in the long drawn out consideration of an "opera" based on "Gone With the Wind". I've been paying a lot of attention to the combined talents, admittedly outstanding, of Knopfler and Emmylou Harris, and pondering the possibility of the Muse most definitely having them in mind when he started me out on the original inspiration.
So, fiction to the back burner. It's a welcome distraction. Writing fiction is the hardest work I've ever known, the place where I never stop feeling utterly vulnerable. Anything to put it off.
Yes, as I learned yesterday through the intuition of the brilliant MT sending me to googling, there has in fact been an opera done on GWTW, and by no less than Trevor Nunn, whose credentials in general no sane man would argue with. I'm still waiting, for example, for BBC America to get their bloody act in gear and put out a DVD - following the video - of his immortal version of "Twelfth Night".
Trevor's version of Margaret Mitchell's classic - opened in April, 2008, in London, was scheduled into September, but closed toward the end of June. Thus, he proved it was not a vain idea; thus, I am not a wing nut. (This possibility never stops for both artist and contemplative, and nothing feels sweeter than confirmation.) But he also proved that the writing, or something, must have missed what is actually in the book, which, as novelist myself, I just might have a pretty good hand on.
Until yesterday, I did not know such an opera existed anywhere outside my own mind, although I've always wondered why it hasn't been done earlier. And, although I'm tempted to write the new Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, and ask him if he has any priests concerned enough with Vatican Two's expectations for bishops concerning themselves with the arts, and therefore qualified to tell me about the opera and why it folded early, I'll hold on for the moment to the possibility of Mr Knopfler instincts taking some hold on this, and babble a bit about my own inspirations.
Of course, as the cognoscenti might already have begun to intuit, I'm not just angling for the interests of one of Glasgow's finest. His recent work with Emmylou Harris, who just happens to be more American than Mark and I put together, and fairly Southern at that, is the fusion that fires the current generator, at least in my mind. (Two and more generations back, however, I have excellent credentials in US ancestry.) Emmy knows the States, Mark has a lot of feeling for them. And both write songs as well as they can be written, even without the masterful performances.
When I was writing to the then governor of Georgia, Zell Miller, about my idea, I promised him that GWTW would be an "American" opera, by which I meant that no amount of symphonic strings and the influences of Verdi or Wagner were going to obliterate the heritage of the Appalachians and the Blues. As I have written earlier, I am now working out the opening chorale - "Georgia" - which Trevor never had, on the five-string banjo, although of course I also putter at the piano, especially when I have the urge to explore the 2,3,4,5 harmony scale in either hand.(Teaching it to Hayley this morning, too, and working on getting it on the Net. But everything in its own time.)
The great thing about Trevor's effort is that it proves that GWTW is not a bloody musical. Musicals are fine. I've been in one - "The Man of La Mancha" - in the title role, as a matter of fact - but they don't cut to the deeper stuff. That is the job of opera. But not necessarily Italian opera, or German opera. Especially Wagnerian German opera. Get me the Monty Python crew and we'll do the most wonderful send up of Wagner writing an opera about Scarlett and Rhett that you could possibly imagine.
But you just can't do that to the best of the heartland music of the American states, nor to the incredible sense of neighbourhood that Margaret Mitchell brought to the novel form. Therein lies the success of the project, which, as a theologian and a mystic who has just informed our new bishop that the Sacred Heart has recommended that I start giving retreats to clergy, I have no intention, or permission from Almighty God, to do by myself.


cabbage ears said...

You love GWTW because of its ultimate understanding of neighbourhoods. How brilliant. I am who I am because of my particular neighbourhood. Bless it. Bless its events, comings, goings and finally my adult self. I knew the tree I climbed and sat on a sturdy limb and watched the children's politics below was sacred. How absolutely wonderful. A refuge from the adult world. Necessary. Visionaries fill the world with light. I believe this strongly. Visionaries also know the art of love.

reg said...

Coincidences once again. Yes the Net enlarges our neighbourhood, like if the universe is curved and your telescope is long enough you can see the back of your head. Whilst reading the blog and listening to the morning programme on RNZ National at the same time as eating a late breakfast, the No. 1 novel on the Canuck Scene was mentioned. The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews led to Pickle Me This,; a different wallpaper pattern but enthusiastically bloggy just the same. But I linger here too long & the weather is turning so the cardeck beckons for its finishing touch of paint before the rain begins and Indian Summer finally goes the was again of daylight saving time.

the kootenay ranger said...

I seem to have become a publisher of other people's poetry, especially poetry which puts the artistic elite of the Pommies in their place. Well done, Elwyn Street Irregulars.I must get on to a post or two about the ESI. cabbage ears has already asked me, reg of Porirua could be said to have been the first of them, even though these two have never met.