- Sam Darling
I forgot about American Thanksgiving coming up. Perhaps because nothing could top our photo from last year.
[Faux puritans. Thanksgiving 2012, Auckland, New Zealand.]
The fact that I’ve been re-reading The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell was a mere coincidence. This is a terrific read for an entertaining overview of the early American puritans who settled Boston, Massachusetts and Providence, Rhode Island. It also gives a more accurate rendering of what the original Thanksgiving might have looked like. From the Native American perspective, it did not resemble our modern version, as I’m sure you might have guessed.
I was particularly amused by my choice of reading material when I saw on social media that my sister in Paris was attending the opera and they were putting on I Puritani.
[Sometimes I think people are biased against opera because of the unflattering thumbnails.]
I must admit that I forgot this Bellini opera even exists. The plot is absurd, in that even though it is about puritans it hits all the usual operatic plot points. It’s not about American puritans, mind you, but rather about the Royalist versus Separatist cause in England during their 17th century civil war and the lovers caught in the midst of the conflict. Star crossed. Natch.
For an opera based on an American puritan you can check out the brand new chamber opera about Anne Hutchinson. I love that Hutchinson is to be played by a contralto. Appropriate.
Anne is my favorite kind of loud mouth. She argued for a form of spiritual self determination that did not sit well with the (male) religious leaders and had no hesitation about standing up for her conviction. Whilst rabble-rousing and leading her community she also had fifteen children and took eleven of them with her to America. Can you imagine?! I can barely cope with a long-haul flight with two measly kids. She was on that ship for weeks with her children.
Probably puritan children aren’t allowed to whine.
Her dramatic life lends itself well to opera. She even managed to get herself and nearly her entire family massacred by the local Siwonay people when she tried to settled in The Bronx, New York. What a finale!
The chamber opera will premiere in Boston in 2014.
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