|My wife (and I hope she won’t mind my mentioning this) likes looking in people’s windows to see how they live. Perhaps we all feel like that: we would like to understand how other people live, particularly where the way they live is different from ours. In the same way, one often sees people talking in the street and wonders what they’re talking about. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to listen in to what they’re saying?
Taking the point a stage further: suppose you could listen to everyone’s conversation throughout the world and just filter out all the things you didn’t particularly want to hear, and just listen to the interesting bits. I know we can’t and, even if we could, it would be an impossible cacophony which one couldn’t make anything of.
|Where this leads me though is to the quartet in opera. I saw a play or film of Mozart’s life (I think it was Amadeus, but I haven’t checked) in which he said that the quartet in opera was how the conversations in the world sounded to God. In other words, what you hear is not the detail of the words – no one can ever make out the detail of the words in opera – but one can make out: what the words mean; what the people are feeling; what they’re doing; and how they’re interacting. If you want to test this, I recommend two quartets: the quartet from the storm scene in Rigoletto, Bella Figlia Dell’Amore; and the quartet Mir ist so wunderbar in Fidelio by Beethoven.