Elaine Stritch - “Ladies Who Lunch” (Company)
Since Elaine Stritch passed away today I am sure that someone has already posted this video, but I just had to post it anyway.
Parts of Company feel a bit dated now, but this song always strikes me as relevant. If you live in New York, you can visit the Upper East Side, the Upper West Side, the Village, or Park Slope and see some real life “ladies who lunch.” Every woman has felt the pressure to be that perfect woman, and has felt how hollow that pursuit is.
What I love about this video, and about Stritch’s rendition of this song in general, is how raw it is. Although she delivers most of the song like an off-the-cuff remark, at the heart of it this song is bitter, dark, even ugly. It’s also very vulnerable. And that’s what makes it such a great performance.
So here’s to the ladies who lunch. Everybody RISE.
Perhaps this is why creative people are singularly vulnerable every time they put their art — whatever its nature — into the world. Without the shield of, say, a Ph.D. to point to and say, “But look, I’m real,” it’s all too easy to hang our merit and worth and realness on the opinions of others — opinions often mired in their own insecurities and vulnerabilities, which at the most malignant extreme manifest as people’s tendency to make themselves feel big by making others feel small, make themselves feel real by making others feel unreal… When one is forced to be one’s own judge, one also tends to be one’s worst critic, and any outside fuel in the engine of self-criticism feels equally potent… Cultivating discipline and clarity in one’s self-assessment is of tremendous, soul-saving importance. It’s the ability, acquired through practice, of seeing one’s work for what it is — whether proud-making or imperfect or, quite often, both — by one’s own standards, and not to hang the fullness of one’s heart or the stability of one’s soul on those external opinions and definitions.Some thoughts on the creative life, inspired by Anna Deavere Smith (via explore-blog)
I think their primary prejudice is, Why does it have to take seven minutes to sing “I love you,” or five minutes to sing “I’m dying now”? I always say, “But that’s extremely fast.” Not in realistic terms, of course. But if you go to opera and expect realism, you’re really stupid. It’s not realism, obviously - even if we build a realistic set. Trying to express yourself about love in five minutes is fast. It can take two years to say that or to even understand that. Saying “I’m dying” in seven minutes is fast. Thinking about death occupies people from puberty through the rest of our lives. It’s the biggest existential question there is. But to express yourself about the feeling of dying, or the anxiety of dying, in seven minutes is actually pretty fast. My point is, in one evening, you go through in two and one-half hours what the rest of us spend our whole emotional lives living through. (…) It’s a workout, intense and focused - if you look for the emotional dimension and not the realistic one. Opera tries to show life as it is, not as it looks. (…) The reason it seems long is that we spend time on what’s important in life. When you look at your life, what’s going to define what it was? Not the everyday business, but the emotional highlights, disasters, or triumphs you had. That’s what we focus on in opera. and that’s because we have music.Kasper Bech Holten (director of the Danish Royal Opera) answering the question “Do you think your average spectators have difficulty investing themselves emotionally?” in Joshua Jampol’s book Living Opera (via operanerd)
If you really feel for what is beautiful, if it truly gladdens you, then your mind becomes enlarged rather than narrowed. I always get upset when some praise only Beethoven, others only Palestrina and still others only Mozart or Bach. All four of them, I say, or none at all.Felix Mendelssohn (via kurtlac)
I’ve had this stuck in my head for the past couple of days, but that’s not a bad thing! This is “Endless pleasure, endless love” from Semele by Handel, sung by Rosemary Joshua.
FYI this is tagged NSFW because there is some brief nudity about three quarters of the way through. That shouldn’t be a surprise if you know this piece. At this point in the oratorio, Jove has swept Semele off to her heavenly abode, and let’s just say they haven’t been passing the time by playing cards…