I once went to the home of Sergei Esenin in Tashkent. There was a Caruso record on the Victrola. One of Isadora Duncan’s scarves was framed behind glass and hanging on a wall. A book of poems lay open on a table. All three of these artists died tragically when still young. The cramped apartment was a museum to arias I thought. Esenin wrote:
“I do believe in happiness!
The sun has not yet faded. Rays
Of sunrise like a book of prayers
Predict the happy news. Oh yes!
I do believe in happiness!”
Describing the ardor of dance Isadora Duncan wrote:
“Now I am going to reveal to you something which is very pure, a totally white thought. It is always in my heart; it blooms at each of my steps… The Dance is love, it is only love, it alone, and that is enough… I, then, it is amorously that I dance: to poems, to music but now I would like to no longer dance to anything but the rhythm of my soul.”
And then there’s Caruso singing “Donna non vidi mai” from Puccini’s “Manon Lescaut”:
“I have never seen a woman, such as this one!”, “To tell her “I love you”, my soul awakens to a new life.”
I pictured Duncan and Esinen whirling around the little room to the astonishingly beautiful aria sung by a tenor who was said to spin gold threads. And I thought of death at bay in that tiny room.
As I recall (but may have it wrong) Esinen’s book mark was a demi tasse spoon.