I Open at the Close: A Review of Deathly Hallows, Part 2

“I wouldn’t be surprised if today was known as Harry Potter day in the future – there will be books written about Harry – every child in our world will know his name.” – Professor McGonagall

If given all the space and time in the world, I’m not sure I could accurately convey what it’s like to be a die-hard Potter fan. Perhaps I’d begin with a line, a long queue wrapping around street blocks for long-awaited books or movies. This time, it’s a movie line, filled to the brim with Potter fans anxiously awaiting The End of it all. Sad, overwhelmed, fearful, excited, proud.

Perhaps your friends managed to get in line 3 hours early, happily braving the heat for the chance at great seats in a sold out showing. There were people in handmade T-shirts reading “Sirius Lives”, “All was Well”, and “My Other Car is a Firebolt”. There were people wearing House scarves in the 85 degree weather; Slytherin, to be precise (ahem). A group of 30 year olds took turns passing around a pair of round-rimmed glasses, trying them on only to find that yes, your eyesight does suck, Harry.  Perhaps a friend in a Quidditch hat had the genius notion to bring a box of Bertie Bott’s All Flavor Flavor beans. Maybe you chose the EarWax bean just for the opportunity to repeat Albus’ line regarding that particular flavor.

Maybe everyone started cheering when the line moved and like 10-year-old barbarians, you elbowed your way to the best seats in the house. Along the way, you were passed by whole families, little girls walking in with their fathers in full robes and regalia, twirling their wands and casting silent spells on the theatre. The greatest spell, however, was yet to come. Continue reading

On the Sublime

“But his voice filled my spirit with a strange, sweet sound. In that night there was music in my mind. And through music my soul began to soar! And I heard like I’ve never heard before…”

Last night, I had a rare opportunity to witness what people may call the sublime.  Per Wikipedia, “[i]n aesthetics, the sublime (from the Latin sublīmis) is the quality of greatness, whether physical, moral, intellectual, metaphysical, aesthetic, spiritual or artistic. The term especially refers to a greatness beyond all possibility of calculation, measurement or imitation.” While I’m prone to hyperbole on occasion (in fact, I rather enjoy it most of the time), I do believe that I did, in fact, serve witness to true operatic greatness last night at the Kennedy Center, where I saw Plácido Domingo perform Oreste in Iphigenie en Tauride.

I know, Dear Reader, that I needn’t waste your time telling you that a man who’s had such a famously vast and storied career (134 roles, 3,500+ performances, 12 Grammy’s, 2 Emmy’s, and a partridge in a pear tree) is “great”.  Yet I believe there is a true disconnect between accepting that a person is great at face-value, and truly understanding it beyond the celebrity hype machine and reviews of trusted critics and scholars. I’ve known for more than 20 years that this man has a gift, a talent far beyond those of his peers. There’s a reason why he was part of The Three Tenors, a group famous for being the best of the best. Even so, I didn’t expect to come away from this performance with the insight into the man and his gift that I feel I now have.

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