Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Snow this morning, and outside the window Bugsy the miniature dog is porpoising merrily down the slick sidewalk. It doesn't take much for snow to be up to his knees.

Tom and I have been discussing whether or not to sign up for a learn-to-salsa class this winter. We are both terrible dancers who find dancing strangely compelling. I, for one, am accustomed to being a klutz and doing everything wrong, but Tom was an athlete and has body grace and likes to be good at stuff, so the decision is more difficult for him. I think he's leaning toward yes: he listened to a lot of salsa music while he was doing dishes.

So far, so good with the online class; I got a passel of editing finished and shipped yesterday; Frost Place stuff is falling into place; my biscuits came out of the oven crisp and tender; but I forgot to water the houseplants and fold the laundry. I also read this fascinating paragraph in The Birth of the Modern, and now I am all worked up. Who is this woman? I must know more!
Large sums [of money] were made after Waterloo by . . . operatic prime donne [such] as . . . the superb Spanish mezzo-soprano Maria Malibran (1808-36). Rossini called Malibran the "only" interpreter of his music and encapsulated her in the most comprehensive compliment ever paid by a great composer to an interpreter: "Ah, that marvellous creature! She surpassed all her imitators by her truly disconcerting musical genius, and all the women I have known by the superiority of her intelligence, the variety of her knowledge and her sparkling temperament. . . . She sang in Spanish (her native tongue), Italian, French, German, and after eight days of study she sang Fidelio in English in London. She sketched, painted, embroidered, sometimes made her own costumes; above all, she wrote. Her letters are masterpieces of subtle intelligence, verve, of good humour, and they display unparalleled originality of expression." Alas, when she was 28, she and her talents were wiped out in a commonplace early 19th-century manner: blood poisoning following a miscarriage.

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