For some reason, whenever I hear a Mozart recitative, I feel at home. I can picture myself, suddenly, at My Summer Festival, the air wonderfully fresh and full with humidity and the smells of pine trees, the sound of crickets and geese and maybe Nozze or Cosi. It’s warm and safe and beautiful. The feeling that there’s nothing else you need to be doing, nowhere else you need or want to be. The air almost sparkles as the sun is setting. There is no urgency, no stress, no want, because that moment is just right.
I know exactly what’s going on, of course. More than the wonderfully clever, solidly tonal harmonies and the beautiful singing, it’s the associations I have with this particular music that makes me feel good. My favorite thing to do in the summer as a kid was to sing in the children’s chorus for the operas. We would get to do things like sing in French while brandishing wooden swords at enormous baritones (Carmen) or wear glitter and wings and sing Shakespeare (A Midsummer Night’s Dream). And during rehearsal, while we waited for our scenes, we would play on the lawn outside the concert hall doing normal kid things, but never out of earshot of the opera. And for some reason that I really don’t understand (because most Mozart operas don’t feature children), I associate this memory most strongly with recitatives, especially those by Mozart.
Cheryl Studer, “Ch’io mi scordi di te.”
Music, for me, is comforting. And not just in the adolescent sense of I just have so many feelings and music is the only way I can understand ALL THE FEELINGS, although there may be a little of that. It reminds me of some of the happiest parts of my life, especially summers as a kid. It sounds trite, I know—I play music because it makes me feel nice! But if I can continue that happiness into the present, building new wonderfully satisfying memories (maybe) every time I play, is that really such a bad reason, among others, to make it into a life?