|Thalia, muse of comedy, holding a comic mask.
Detail from the “Muses Sarcophagus,”
first half of the 2nd century AD
|The Marriage of Tristram and
Isoude Les Blanches Mains,
Sir Edward Burne-Jones,
stained glass window, 1862
Regardless of one’s religious orientation, anyone who has lost a loved one knows the spiritual feeling of longing and loss… But the mythology of eternal love that is also an erotic love is a complicated matter: love that has no bounds (not even death) is fundamentally self-destructive, but it is also, as poets have always claimed, a spiritual experience. The cult of such love has something that is both mythical and mysterious, but also seductive and dangerous. To lose oneself in such love can be at once the most engrossing and the most destructive experience of one’s life.
By staging The Love Potion at the Temple Ohabei Shalom, we tried to capture that grand, overwhelming, spiritual feeling evoked by boundless love that the opera explores. The spatial grandeur of the Temple, with its magnificent golden dome, is a fitting setting for Frank Martin’s music, illustrating and illuminating both the grandeur of the music and the complexity of the myth that the opera explores. Finally, it is also perhaps a fitting setting for another reason: one of Judaism’s most celebrated texts is Song of Songs, also known as Song of Solomon, which celebrates sensual love as the highest expression, culmination, and extension of a deeply spiritual experience.