Back to Alfredo and Violetta, from LA TRAVIATA.
I had a lousy day today, so I am not in the mood for blogging and I want to dedicate the rest of the afternoon to do stuff that brings me joy.
And for you, just lovely little things to cheer you up, like a photo of my lively nephew, watching the “Carrillon de ma Grand Mère” song on the computer:
And, for those who don’t know the lively “Carrillon the ma Grand Mère” (from the “Grande Duchesse de Gerolstein” Operetta, by Jacques Offenbach), here you have it:
Happy baby, happy uncle. Happy Offenbach spunky music.
And that’s all for today. Seid umschlungen, Millionen!
I was sitting here, by the computer, watching the recent René Jacobs “Don Giovanni” recent DVD recording, with Johannes Weisser (highly recommended, by the way – despite the colorful, but minimalist sets) and started to wonder about Culture.
Probably, most of the persons I know, would call “culture” to the ability to understand and enjoy good art, music, or literature. But would that be just that?
According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, culture has different meanings:
1: cultivation, tillage
2: the act of developing the intellectual and moral faculties especially by education
3: expert care and training <beauty culture>
4 a: enlightenment and excellence of taste acquired by intellectual and aesthetic training b: acquaintance with and taste in fine arts, humanities, and broad aspects of science as distinguished from vocational and technical skills
5 a: the integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behavior that depends upon the capacity for learning and transmitting knowledge to succeeding generations b: the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; also : the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life} shared by people in a place or time <popular culture> <southern culture> c: the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization <a corporate culture focused on the bottom line> d: the set of values, conventions, or social practices associated with a particular field, activity, or societal characteristic <studying the effect of computers on print culture> <changing the culture of materialism will take time — Peggy O’Mara>
6: the act or process of cultivating living material (as bacteria or viruses) in prepared nutrient media; also : a product of such cultivation
And this word, that probably comes from the latin, colere, that means “to grow, to raise, to take care“. It can be applied to agriculture (to grow and take care of crops) and it can be applied to us, as persons (to grow and take care of our spirit).
And how do we grow and take care of our spirit? Not just by learning how to read or write, but learning arts, music, dance, gymnastics, poetry, history. And that education is essential, it provides a framework for beahviour (thinking about a broad definition) in a civilized society – but it is much more than that.
When we grow, we suffer a transformation, in the case of culture, we get more knowledge, learn to appreciate things differently, it increases our choices – and, consequently, our freedom -.
But that “culture” thing is difficult to grasp. What is “culture” to me, may not be culture to someone else. So, it is strange to see people that feels that has “more culture” than anyone else. And people that seems to be allergic to “culture”. There is not such substance. And it is not easy to measure.
And the quantification of that is not relevant, anyway.
The reward we take from a good movie, a good piece of music, a good book, a play – is something that varies from person to person. A “cultured” person that is used to those events, may not grow as much from a determined event than someone who experience that for the first time. “Cultural events” should reward us, should make us grow.
That’s why sometimes I feel so dissatisfied with some cultural events. All I see is empty structures. And, unfortunately, not so many people going to those venues. Usually the same group, that know and loves and understand that stuff. But those, in many aspects, have already “grown“. Artwork and books and music compositions and pictures should be valued by the growth they provide to the persons who experience them.
I remember the first time I’ve listened to Mozart’s Don Giovanni. It was a soul-shattering experience, it was the first serious opera that I’ve heard, and there was so much to learn, to enjoy, to understand. The combination between music and text, the implicit description of the characters, the way their personalities are depicted. I’ve heard that piece over and over, finding out new details, new reasons why I love it, to learn from it. Beethoven thought it was an immoral piece, depicting a “sordid subject“. I still collect every filmed performance I can get of Don Giovanni on DVD. And I imagine the pleasure of those who discover this artwork for the first time. That was one of the reasons who convinced me to do the “OPERA GRAPHICA” exhibition – to introduce more people, using the graphic medium, to a first approach to segments of these musics I love:
But again, back to the growth given by culture (that is hard to explain and quantify) – those first experiments, those first liberating contacts with a new art form, or a new artwork, should be something that must be available to everyone. Access to culture is not just trying to make more people to go to Museums or going to good movies or plays. It shouldn’t be just that. I can’t just take an “uncultured” person to a museum and hope he enjoys what he is seeing. We must be able to give them the means to have an intense experience of increasing their horizons and perspectives, by knowing how to enjoy a piece of art.
We cannot have a cultural policy only destined to “cultured” people, forgetting everyone else. We should think about the masses, those who would have much to learn and grow from these “cultural activities”. Not just give books to many people, or make them cheaper or whatever (we have things like Project Gutenberg, with e-books for FREE) – we should strive to make possible that many people can understand WHY they could enjoy a book or a play or a movie or an opera. Like Don Giovanni. Below:
It should be our moral obligation – not only from the government, but from the private corporations and individual citizens too, to give those learning opportunities. This gives added value to our society, give us more freedom. Culture may open the door to imaginary worlds that enrich our lives. We should not consider ourselves “cultured” because we know lots of facts or plays or musics or operas or books or paintings, but because we should have the power to transform.
We should have the power to bring art pieces and plays and music to more people, to help them how to understand and grow with them. Making sure that new talents are encouraged (in any art form, including the comics medium) to express themselves with passion.
Passion. Passion about something we do to express ourselves.
In a world that is plagued by consumerism, easy fame, banality, futility, to create something out of love of what we do is priceless. And we should help everyone to do that.
To create. To enjoy.
And to grow.
This is a discarded Sketch of Violetta, the protagonist of La Traviata. It was discarded because I think it was swiped from a fashion magazine (I am not sure), and was just to start getting the feel of the character.
“La traviata is an opera in three acts by Giuseppe Verdi set to an Italian libretto by Francesco Maria Piave. It takes as its basis the novel La dame aux Camélias by Alexandre Dumas, fils, published in 1848. It was first performed at the Teatro la Fenice in Venice, on March 6, 1853. The title “La traviata” means literally The Woman Who Strayed, or perhaps more figuratively, The Fallen One. Piave and Verdi wanted to follow Dumas in giving the opera a contemporary setting, but the authorities at La Fenice insisted that it be set in the past. It was some years before the composer’s and librettist’s original wishes were carried out.” (source: wikipedia)