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Wednesday, November 15, 2006


I've been a big blog neglecter. I'm not saying I'm "back" to posting (sorry to the 5.7 or so of you who actually might read this thing). I have been inspired to post about my current song du jour though.

Recently I went to see The Light in the Piazza at The Music Center's Ahmanson Theatre (review is forthcoming...and LONG overdue). While I have seen the show on PBS' Great Performances and know the music and story backwards and forwards, I had no idea the show I was going to see would affect me in the way that it did.

Music interpretation is a very personal thing and of course varies from individual to individual. Obviously, there are so many reasons why we interpret a song the way we do or why it touches our heart deeper on some days vs. others. Life, stress, the weather, random thoughts all affect why and how we interpret and are touched by various forms of music. Somedays there are songs that I just can’t get enough of because they comfort me or remind me of a time in my life that I want to hold onto. Maybe that’s the reason I obsess over certain songs and play them until I feel like it has become a part of my soul.

The evening that I saw Piazza, the music and lyrics hit me straight in the heart. Over the course of the two hours the show filled my heart with love, cracked it a little, made me feel slightly hopeless and then rebuilt it again. When the show was over, as with real life and love, I was exhausted, but more in love with the show than I was before. It was the most beautiful musical I think I’ve seen to date and the most meaningful.

Between each of the characters were relationships experiencing love at different stages and in different ways. Love was blooming between Clara & Fabrizio, flailing between Margaret & her husband Roy, experiencing jealousy between Giuseppe & Franca. Piazza is not just about romantic love, but also familial and even religious love. The show showcases love and the fragility and depth of it as an emotion. It reminded me how deep we can feel about a person if we allow ourselves, how broken we can feel when we think it’s gone and how much stronger we become as individuals and with others when we find resolution.

The first time I heard the music from this show, I was completely overcome. It was moving, lush and to me soulful in a way that I really can’t explain. Over the course of hearing the music, I found a connection to each of the songs, focusing on one and experiencing it’s meaning, it’s emotion, and it’s expression. “Say it Somehow” was the first song I heard, and immediately I was in love. I thought this had to be the most romantic song of two young people declaring their love. After awhile though, as I randomly moved through the album, I realized that the song that I thought was the sweetest, most romantic expression of love was “Love to Me.”

Overhearing something her mother says on the phone, Clara is made aware that she is somehow different from everyone else. She is frightened that her impending marriage to Fabrizio won’t happen once he finds out who she really is. As she’s breaking down, he sings “Love to Me” to his future bride, I found it to be the sweetest, most loving gesture I’ve ever seen on stage. And as he’s singing this to her, I literally felt my heart open up, feeling hopeful not only for these characters but for my own life. This hopefulness reminded me of how much we need love, any kind of love – to be loved, to express love and to love others. It wasn’t only about love though, it was about acceptance for who and what we are, and isn't acceptance something we all long for?

Adam Guettel is a genius. He was able to take this novella by Elizabeth Spencer and found a way to manipulate the listener with this music that flows through the ears and into the heart. One doesn’t merely hear or see The Light in the Piazza, but feel it (this doesn’t mean that you are have to like it). Maybe it’s too emotionally taxing for some, but if you’ve ever been loved by anyone – I think you are bound to be moved somehow by this show.

The more I listen to each of these songs, both individually and collectively, I find that The Light in the Piazza is a metaphor for our lives. If we open ourselves and allow the light to flutter in, it will fill our soul and we will never be the same again and be better because of it. The light will open our eyes, lighten our hearts and our souls but the darkness will forever weigh us down.
* * *

~Music & Lyrics by Adam Guettel

The day we meet,
The way you lean against the wind,
And do not know that you are beautiful,
Or that anyone is watching you,
This is what I see.

And I notice how you hunger for surprise,
And do not think that you are tall enough,
Like you’re standing on a mountainside alone,
This is what I see.

You’re not alone.

Now I see as I have never seen before.
Since that moment in the square,
When you’re hat is carried in the air,
Just so you can chase it,
Just so I can be there,
This is how I know,
This is what I see,
This is love to me.


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