I just arrived in Tokyo, joining the Met Opera Orchestra on their Japan tour. (I'm just as surprised as you are, trust me.) I'll be posting several times during my tent days here, as I experience for the first time a professional orchestra on tour. This will also be my first solo trip to Japan (discounting the 600 or so other musicians and crew members, of course.)
This first post, however will not be about the experience, but about the music. As you might expect, my preparation for this gig involves not just practicing, but also listening to recordings and studying the score. During the long flight from San Francisco to Narita Airport, I settled down with Puccini's La Boheme. Since I've listened to this opera dozens of times, I knew what to expect. As Mimi and Rodolfo uttered their last words to one another, I stoicly followed along in the score. I reached the penultimate page, moved but still composed. I turn the page.
"Coraggio!" shouts Marcello, and I am no longer composed. What?
The music and the story themselves are tragic. Rodolfo's cries of "Mimi" are heartwrenching. For me, however, it is the single word Coraggio, not sung but spoken, that pushes me over the edge. Marcello's support emphasizes the collapse that follows, and it reminds me that this is not "just" art; this is life. Life is what art is all about.
Coraggio is why Puccini, more than any other composer, moves me to tears.