1. We sit at the back of a balcony box behind and above the front of the stage in the Grosser Saal. The Commendatore is across from us and waves. The Monks from St. Augustine's file into the balcony past us to sing the opening chant. Even the early music bands in this town have a sweetness to their sound. Is that possible? Am I really hearing that hint of Schlag on gut strings? Or is it the wood of the hall itself, still vibrating with a hundred genius ghosts? Or is it the slightly slower tempi of these Vespers that allows slightly longer and more loved tones? Harnoncourt may not be the peppiest Monteverdian, but there he is at 81, in his house, with his band, and the two seraphim cry out to each other and time turns back on itself. Omnes, omnes generationes.
2. I walk through the thickly falling snow under the white and red Christmas lights, past the Stephensdom covered in white, past drunk crowds of friends laughing loudly and slipping on the ice. My glasses fog over when I step into the pub. He has fans, a table of young people who want to talk about guitars and take his picture. People throw their money into the upturned Stetson. I'm on a black elevator goin' down/Little Joe from Kokomo it rattles to the ground/The dice is laughing at the man that he throwed/You're goin' over to the lowside of the road.
3. "I find it driven."
I play it again, the soprano waits, he stops me.
"Am I too fast?"
"No, it's not a tempo question - I just think each eighth note needs to be more suspended, not leading into the next. Otherwise it sounds too casual."
I smile. "Maybe that's my American Oberflächlichkeit."
He laughs. "No, no, it's not superficial! It's just too...directed, somehow. Maybe that's what's American about the way you play it, you have a goal. Beloved, hurry up!" Now all three of us laugh. He smiles, just barely: "For Americans, or for most people today, a love song is just, JA. But in this aria we need to hear, well, maybe...but also, maybe not."
Sylvia breathes and begins. Vieni ove amore per goder t'appella.