Monday, 6 June 2011

Lascia ch'io pianga

Lascia ch'io pianga
La mia crude sorte

Let me weep over
My cruel fate

Words from an aria from Handel's opera Rinaldo, first performed in 1711, Almirina mourning her lost love, sung by my Facebooker daughter aged fifteen as I wept and her eye-rolling brother had to hold the camera.

Just too beautiful. And every time I cry.

Then afterward we pass an old lady on the footpath from the old people's home nearby. She is tiny with whiskers and looks up at my tall kids, one blond and wearing my heels not-too-shakily, one brown with a tidy afro today. Her eyes glistening, she wants to talk. Where are we from? Why are we here?

We tell her we are not really Italian, that we are somewhat mixed-up.

Well I was in Belgrade, she said. Where the two rivers meet and there is a yellow line down the middle. Because they are different, the two rivers. Ah, Beogrado!

My kids waited it out.

I used to be in Venice, she said happily, you could see she was sassy once. I knew Ernest Hemingway, she said. Do you know Ernest Hemingway?

I said I did. My daughter loved Fiesta.

Poor man! she said. Ah! But now I am here, look where I am. She looked in towards the entry gate of the old people's home. Another lady pushed along a frame.

Her eyes filled with tears and she asked me for a cigarette. There are three of us who smoke, she said cheekily. She showed me inside her handbag which had an empty packet.

We walked away for ice cream and my kids swore they would never put me in a home and my legs felt weak. We were each quiet for a while until we resumed talking about my daughter's excellent performance.


  1. Hey, Cat - returning your visit.
    Thanks for popping by my blog.

    I love this little moment you've captured! Sweet.

  2. Hi Rachel,
    thanks to you for your comment and will be keeping up with yours.
    I never thought I would become an opera buff!

  3. What a gorgeous blog, Catherine.

    My mother and I took a bus tour through Italy when my daughter was two weeks old (she slept on a pillow across our laps and barely made a peep the entire time). I was a dirt-poor Army wife at the time, so we couldn't do much in terms of travel, but Italy enchanted me. Someday I hope to return -- with a few more dollars and many more days to spend.

  4. Dear Averil,
    Thanks for passing by! I am sure you will return to Italy one day and find that most of the good things are just as they were when you left.
    Best wishes for your book and your research this summer!
    Ciao cat