Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Carmelite Experience

Hawaii Opera Theater

My mother and I went to see the opera Dialogue of the Carmelites  not so much for entertainment but because the story was about persecuted Catholics.  For those of you who homeschooled your children using Seton, The Song of the Scaffold by Gertrude von la Fort should be familiar to you.  Dialogues is actually based on this novella.

The entire opera played out in three acts was a very spiritual experience.  It was very appropriate not only for the Lenten season but because of the anti-clerical times we are beginning to experience in our own world.  None of the music or arias was familiar to me.  Usually, this would have made going to the opera very difficult for me to enjoy but that was not the case here.

I noticed that after the first act, a few people left. One lady commented that she really was not enjoying it.  I thought it sad because they did not give the story a chance to develop to the climatic moment (spoiler alert) when the sixteen Carmelite nuns go to Madame Guillotine, singing the Salve Regina.  I wondered if the open Catholic spirituality that enveloped this story turned those people off.  I hope not.  I was hoping and praying that the opera-goers would be touched by the spirituality in a place of worldly entertainment.  I did notice many Catholics in the audience.  In fact, we sat in front of two sisters of the order of Saint Marianne Cope. The sisters really enjoyed the opera/story.  They also showed much interest in reading the book.

This morning my mom and I had an opportunity to attend Mass at the Carmelite monastery. It was like being back in the days of Santa Teresa de Avila.  Right before Mass begins, the grille opens up and we can get a peek of the nuns.  Afterwards, we were able to meet and greet these friendly nuns.

In the photo I took, you can see the Infant of Prague way in the back.  In a scene in the opera, the very frightened nun was given an Infant of Prague to console her and give her strength as the enemies of the Church become more of a threat.  She is startled and the statue falls to the ground and breaks.  She cries out "The Little King is dead! And we have nothing left but...the Lamb of God.!"

Very profound.


Mimi said...

That sounds really like a powerful and moving opera - I'll have to see if I can find it.

EC Gefroh said...

It was Mimi. I hope you have a chance to see it.