Wednesday, September 21, 2011


I've decided to throw Brevity out the window.  The words won't stop tumbling out of my mouth (or keyboard as it were).  So I ramble on ...

This past weekend, I had the rare opportunity to go behind-the-scenes at the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum in San Jose.  Imagine touching artifacts over 5,000 years old, deep in the Archaeologists' cupboards.   I could sense the magic and history right beneath my blue-latexed fingertips.  A High Priest could have blessed these!  Or a Pharaoh commissioned them!

"High Priestess of the Sun" for some unidentified religion
(I wanted better photos but the pool party hubbub uphill
kept interrupting my reverie.  I stopped after 3 attempts.)

Antique kaftan from Morocco.  Ventilo jacket underneath.  Feathered mask.

If you're familiar with Mozart's Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute) with its Egyptian symbolism, you'll understand why my thoughts drifted to its music.  This was the first opera my parents ever took me to when I was about 8 years old.  (The tenor, Tamino, was a family friend.) Back then, my enjoyment centered on the comical bird man, Papageno.  The Masonic rituals and Egyptian imagery were completely obscured until adulthood.  

I think Die Zauberflöte's "Queen of the Night" aria is one of the most virtuosic in Opera.  This aria is so difficult that I've heard it done both heart-stoppingly and horrendously at the Met Opera!  It definitely counts as one of our favorites.  To understand how much, we lip synched Lucia Popp's version at our wedding reception -- several champagne glasses in -- to our startled guests (and equally startled DJ)!  Note, this was way before Flash Mobs.  Sigh, if only Lucia Popp's crystal clear voice were really mine.

Queen of the Night Aria begins around 2:10 minutes in, but the Teutonic shouting is a good preamble!

By contrast, I recently stumbled upon Diana Damrau's rendition at Covent Garden via YouTube.   Wow, THIS is the frightening Queen of the Night -- the terrible Anti-Enlightenment!  Here, the orchestration and delivery feel more Wagnerian than Mozartian, but I believe we get the point better!

Oh dear, see how I've rambled, carried away by the beauty of Opera.  Let me circle back to the Sun Gods and the Egyptian Museum.  Here is proof, by iPhone,  of some artifacts I got to handle.  I didn't just dream it up for the sake of a blog post.  (And I hope I don't get the Archaeology Docents in trouble.)

ancient carnelian jewelry
cedar head rest
to protect regal coiffures during sleep
mummified Cat-in-the-Box
Not what Dr. Seuss had in mind

Are any of you fascinated by Archaeology?  Do you enjoy the Opera?


  1. Hi! I found your blog and I like it so much!! cool post!
    Come and visit my blog, and if you like it, follow me, I'll be waiting for you!

    Cosa mi metto???

  2. i can't believe this..1 of our papers this semester is on ancient egypt..reading about and actually seeing the remains would have been a wonderful experience..thanks to you i got a glimpse.

  3. What an absolutely brilliant opportunity!

  4. Me not very much, but my husband is for the whole family,so it is ok.
    I love your pic and wonder what the passers by thought, lol.

  5. I am completely in love with the caftan. Archaeology is incredibly fascinating to me and sparks my interest to visit Egypt and maybe live there for a few months to write/shoot photos. I am easing into Opera, slowly but surely.


  6. I went to that museum once as a kid and was mesmerized. I think I love relics of the past and I wonder what memories do these objects hold? I love you taking inspiration from this and your rad outfit! What a great way to experience archeology!

  7. such a cool post! love it.

    Meena ♥

  8. interesting post. thanks for sharing and for stopping by me

  9. Cant believe u were able to actually touch those artifacts! amazing!!!!

    thanks so much for the comment!

  10. I am fascinated by Egyptian archeology because they lives they led were so different to ours and to be able to see that culture and those belief frozen in the sands of time is just amazing. As for opera, I've only been to Cosi fan tutte by Mozart which to be honest, didn't seal the deal. Thoroughly enjoyed Pirates of Penzance though I don't think it counts so much. Awaiting something like La Boheme or Madame Butterfly before I make a real call. What do you recommend?

    Lots of love from Sydney,

    x Kel

    the modern sari

  11. Of course, I had to comment more on the opera part than anything! Die Zauberflote was also my first opera! And although everyone loves the queen of the night aria, I always melt upon beautiful renditions of Pamina's Lament, "Ach, Ich fuhls". It was a very different side to the Mozart that was famous for Eine Kleine and this. And to top it all of, it was the first ever opera I was ever part of- even if only as a Chorus member! :)

  12. Thanks for that Queen of The Night clip, amazing... Mozart was German btw...

  13. I am truly in love with the first picture!
    As far as archaeology is concerned I am very interested in Egyptian, Greeks and Roman (of course) ancient history. I don't like opera with the only exception of Mozart!

  14. I LOVE this Aria! We saw the Magic Flute in London, years ago. I'm getting chills listening to this version. Or, rather, WAS, til I clicked on the comment and inadvertently shut it off. I'll go back to it when I send this.

    Since you seem to be my separated at birth twin, on the other side of the planet, it's no surprise that I, too, an fascinated by Archaeology, Opera (we actually technically moved here because of Opera, but that's another story) and clearly, I've given up on all attempts at brevity, too.

    And I absolutely love that kaftan. The pink and gold.. it's pretty uncanny cause I've been editing images from a catwalk show here in London - if you check my blog in about an hour, it will be called 'shiny happy people' and I'll link it to your post.

    Oh and one of my best friends is Egyptian. If you do a search for Natayla on my blog, you'll see her: fair, blue eyed, and Muslim, but Egyptian born and bred,. Altho she lives in Geneva and London.

    And I wish I could go to that museum: someday. When I achieve my goal and live in California. Want to do a swap sometime? Like that Cameron Diaz film, Holiday? xox

  15. Hi intriguing post. I'd like you to visit my blog. If you like it , follow me. Frances

  16. What a wonderful high priestess you are! Die Zauberflote was also my first opera experience and for weeks I tormented my family by trying to hit the high notes of the Queen of the Night... And archaelogy - so fascinating. Always wanted to study it, but my parents said my chemistry was too weak :(

  17. Oh my gosh, I love, love, LOVE opera! And that aria...I've always loved it, ever since I was first introduced to it when I was about 7. I actually sing opera, so it's always fun for me to hear that people still appreciate this gorgeous art form. And on a really good voice day, I can hit most of the Queen of the Night's high notes. ;D I love Diana Damrau and all of her roles so much. :)

    Earlier this year me and my family got to visit the King Tutankhamen exhibit traveling around the USA, and it was so fascinating. It was like walking through a huge, dreamy, different world in a haze. Egyptian history and artistry intrigues me so much.

    Maria Elyse
    First Impressions
    Flying Ships Vintage

  18. Oh my that is such an incredible opportunity! Funny enough when I was a kid I used to want to be an archeologist (I was glued to the Discovery Chanel!). Alas, that did not happen- but I sure do enjoy it (as do the opera!)

  19. WOW. What an unbelievably memorable experience! I've always been obsessed with Ancient Egyptian history, so you bet I'm jealous!

  20. Interesting post!!!The 1st picture is amazing!!!

  21. wow great experience :)

    & thanks I feel so much better now
    my voice isn't fully back yet
    but still I feel great

  22. what a wonderful opportunity. love that first picture.

  23. What a great experience!! Did you feel like an strange energy when you touched all those pieces? I don't listen opera to be honest but I would love to hear live opera! I found it very dramatic and enchanting. XX

  24. It was a super fun activity to do, i really had to think about some of those answers too. I am currently rehearsing Tamburaline the Great part 1. It opens on Thursday. Its a great play. I love it. Why were you in the museum? That sounds SO cool.

  25. Powerful vocals! My lord... See people think I am weird because I love Opera.. How was it handling those pieces?? I would be scared of breaking something..

    Hugs! ~Angel

  26. Love your take on the theatrical outfit. A few of my friends do Archaeology!!

  27. I had the opportunity to go and see opera several times it is magical. as for egyptian archeology it must be absolutely fascinating. i lovethe mystical feeling about this civilization.

  28. OMG! I went to that production in Covent Garden (and posted about it too It was amazing! I love opera - The Magic Flute is my favourite opera too and also the first opera I ever saw. My favourite character is Papageno although the version we saw on this occasion at the Royal Opera house was a bit lack lustre.
    Diana was actually ill the night we went so we had a different lady playing the Queen of the Night and it was her 700th night singing the role! That aria still gives me the shivers every time I hear it.


Dear Fellow Aesthetes, I love hearing your thoughts. I think the other readers find them valuable too! Much love xxx

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