Was it only 3 weeks ago when we saw Rufus Wainwright in concert? Between Stuff Happening, insufferable heat, Big Decisions to be made, and everything else eddying around, I have totally lost track of time.
Yes, 3 weeks ago, we saw Rufus in concert in the Hamptons on a hot, muggy night in an old, rather scruffy theatre. He sang many songs from his new CD, some older songs from older CDs, a few songs with his father, Loudon Wainwright III, and then two really old songs by Hector Berlioz from the song cycle Les Nuits d'Été.
Rather ruefully, he said he'd sung the entire Berlioz cycle a few years ago and gotten such horrible reviews that he dug back into the music, determined to master it. I was happy with what I heard, but I can understand how purists might have been upset with Wainwright's lack of distance from the lyrics, or the lack of classical consistency in his voice. I was happy because he inhabited the song as surely as his father inhabited "The Swimming Song" and others he sang about the death of his own father.
Let me share the two songs with you. The first is Rufus, the second is Loudon. Enjoy!
Here is the English translation of Gautier's poem:
Open your closed eyelid Which is gently brushed by a virginal dream! I am the ghost of the rose That you wore last night at the ball. You took me when I was still sprinkled with pearls Of silvery tears from the watering-can, And, among the sparkling festivities, You carried me the entire night. O you, who caused my death: Without the power to chase it away, You will be visited every night by my ghost, Which will dance at your bedside. But fear nothing; I demand Neither Mass nor De Profundis; This mild perfume is my soul, And I've come from Paradise. My destiny is worthy of envy; And to have a fate so fine, More than one would give his life For on your breast I have my tomb, And on the alabaster where I rest, A poet with a kiss Wrote: "Here lies a rose, Of which all kings may be jealous."