In which dreams come true. . . .

In the sense that listening to Rolando Villazón singing Cavalli is like one of those dreams where you’re pretty sure you know how and why its various component parts came to be entangled with one another, and it’s not entirely crazy, but at the same time neither is it obvious that this ever needs to happen again.

(I was listening to that baroque Lamenti CD last night, which is how I got to Villazón singing Cavalli. But it gets even better. Naturally – naturally – someone back in the 1600s felt compelled to write an operatic lament for Mary Stuart. Listen, people. She may have been pretty, but she was not the only royal person in early modern Europe to get the chop. Also, she appears to have had all the political acuity of a loofah. Or rather, her judgement of people and probability was often poor and the evidence suggests that she prized adherence to principle above staying alive, which is all well and good, but the principles she chose to adhere to always seemed sort of pointless to me. She’s interesting because getting into the mindsets that cause people in the past to do what are to us intriguingly strange things is always interesting, but my sense is that her peculiar embodiment of 16th century gender politics and head-banging Catholic political theory is not necessarily why she has had such a long afterlife in song and story.)

8 thoughts on “In which dreams come true. . . .

  1. Think Schiller’s point that she makes an excellent projection screen was/is entirely valid, given the narratives that continue to be plastered on with abandon.


    1. Yes – part of what makes her interesting is how/why she fits into so many different potential narratives (about women, power, religion, etc.) all at once. I think a lot of people writing fun stories about her have tended to confuse her fungibility in this way with who she actually was. (Or I guess that’s one of the points of Schiller’s play, isn’t it – they’re hard to separate. Even she found it hard. And now I feel like reading the play again.)


    1. My advisor when I was a student used to give his undergraduates in the Tudor/Stuart survey this exam question: “The death of Charles I was the culmination of the longest and most elaborate suicide attempt of the seventeenth century. Discuss.”


        1. >>A trait she passed on to her descendants

          I’d disagree about Charles II. A very slippery ad cunning customer, the great survivor.


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