Saturday, 7 June 2008

Tossed in Tosca

I have always loved music. It can safely be said my one true passion in life is music, especially classical music (both Indian and Western). Hence, when a few weeks ago Zoltan emailed asking if I wanted to go to the opera, I was more than delighted. He is one person who enjoys the finer things in life, and if he was recommending Tosca then there was little chance I would regret my decision.

The day of the opera had not been the best. Both Zoltan and I had a stressful day. We were both not in the best of spirits. I was probably worse than he was, when in all honesty he had more reasons to be infuriated and angry. That is what I admire about Zoltan; he is forever looking forward and optimistic. He knows how to take life as it comes or as they say “go with the flow”. Anyway, we decided to go for a quick drink before the opera and I was yawning most of the time. So before we took our seats, Zoltan quietly mentioned “dude go to sleep if you want to. I will wake you up for the best pieces”. I smiled; the probability of me falling asleep was high. This was a melodrama and a tragedy - two lovers conned by fate and a tyrant attain their union only in death. After an awful day an intense opera was not my idea of relaxation.

I braced myself as the conductor approached the orchestra. However, the first strains of melody came filtering through like a cool breeze on a hot day. As the first act progressed there were no indications of heavy grey music. There was a touch of gloom where required but overall the intensity was controlled. The singers and the orchestra seemed to draw out all the negativity from within me, leaving me feeling extremely relaxed. I was not the only one who felt this way. Zoltan shared my perception. In the interval, as we sat on the terrace overlooking Covent Garden, an elderly couple on the next table seemed to echo our views. The gentleman had seen Tosca over half a dozen times and in his view each performance highlighted a different aspect, enabling him to appreciate the opera even more.

After three acts performed over three hours, I left the opera house filled with appreciation for the music, the acting and the production. It had been the perfect antidote to the miserable day and also an insightful initiation into a new world.

Zoltan and I discussed the opera over dinner. Soon the discussion went into a more philosophical direction and Zoltan was at his absolute best. He said some very profound things that evening (and made a point - they need to go on my blog). The first one was that it is not up to us to control everything in life. What we can, however, control is how we react to situations and circumstances. Every individual must have the capacity to take life one day at a time knowing that there is a certain path that the Supreme Being has carved for her. At the same time he said that we while we all have our destinies planned, making an effort towards achieving our aims is up to us. That I do believe is true. There is no point in wanting to be rich without working hard and attempting to be efficient with taxes and savings!

In Zoltan’s opinion the foremost responsibility of every human being is to be honest to oneself. That in his view is what leads to happiness and realization of destinies. In his view, there is no point in relying on external factors to bring emotional stability. I do agree with the view. In the end, if we are not honest with ourselves, there is no way that we can be happy let alone reach our destiny.

While we were discussing this, I was taken back to my days when I was looking for a job in London. There were a lot of people who told me that I would not succeed and I should head back to India. There was one particular day when I was really thinking hard on returning to Bombay when I chanced upon this passage in The Alchemist. “….before a dream is realized, the Soul of the World tests everything that was learned along the way. It does this not because it is evil, but so that we can, in addition to realizing our dreams, master the lessons we’ve learned as we’ve moved toward the dream. That’s the point at which most people give up. It’s the point at which, as we say in the language of the dessert, one ‘dies of thirst just when the palm trees have appeared on the horizon’. Every search begins with beginners luck. And every search ends with the victor’s being severely tested.” For some reason this made an impact on me and I decided to stick on and fight it out. The rest as they say is history.

I believe this is what Zoltan was also trying to say. Hardships do come our way; however, we should not shy away from them or be demoralized. In the end, if we continue to hold on to our beliefs, take the challenges of life as they come and do our best to reach our aims, then we find the way to our destiny and the universe helps us in our attempt.

The messages from Zoltan and from Tosca have been profound. Do I understand them completely, I am not sure. Do I appreciate my friend and the opera, absolutely. Do I recommend Tosca and the Alchemist, most definitely. And as far as Zoltan is concerned, I guess not everyone is lucky to have a friend like mine! Cheers to Zoltan and to Tosca!

1 comment:

Manohar said...

Lovely post, especially about your experience in an opera. you have dispelled the myths of many, who do not venture into an opera house. Opera is a pure form, which moves you by striking the chords in your heart, if you really appreciate pure and pristine music. Nice to see a new opera lover. Liked your post.I will come back to see older posts.