This beautiful song, an operatic aria by Puccini, is from the comic opera Gianni Schicchi. But, more important than that is what the song actually means in context.
In the opera, Gianni Schicchi is a con man intent on swindling a family out of their inheritance and knowing all along that he will be destined to go to hell when he dies. The family is gathered for the reading of the rich man’s will, which is, because this is a comic opera, lost for the time being. Their main concern is for the money, which rumor has it has all been willed to the church. But one among them is actually worthy of inheriting the money, Rinuccio the son of the rich man’s cousin. And, as luck would have it, as it always does in comedies, Rinuccio is the one who, during the manic and desperate search for the will, actually finds it. And assuming he comes out well in the will, he secures a promise from his mother that if he inherits money, he can marry Schicchi’s beautiful daughter Laurretta whom he truly loves.
But when he reads the will, he is devastated. The money all goes to a monastery. He begs Schicchi to help him convince the family that he should marry Laurretta anyway. This Gianni Schicchi tries and finds it harder than turning water into wine. So Schicchi is about to give up when Lauretta finally speaks up for herself through the song,
O Mio Babbino Caro (My Beloved Father)
At this point Schicchi is moved by the beautiful song and even more beautiful love his daughter has surprised him with. He not only agrees to help, but executes a bizarre plan, hiding the rich man’s body and pretending to be him come back to life to rewrite the will. Now the will favors Rinuccio, and over the protests of the family, he inherits the money and marries his true love, Schicchi’s daughter. The opera ends with Schicchi singing his case to the audience, telling them in song that going to hell is worth it to aid true love.
And this, then, is the truth of O Mio Babbino Caro.
Love, expressed through the surprise of hidden talent suddenly revealed, is the most persuasive argument there is.
Whether it is the love in the music suddenly discovered in the overwhelming voice of a little girl like Jackie Evancho or Amira Willighagen, or the late great Maria Callas who also sang the role, or even the singer of Puccini’s greatest work who is yet to perform it and make silly old men like me weep for beauty’s sake, the song is the most persuasive argument there is in favor of true love.
That is a thing I desperately want to capture in the novel I am writing now, Sing Sad Songs. Love expressed in music. Love that reverses loss. Love that heals all things. And Love that moves all people. The love that is masterfully sung in O Mio Babbino Caro.
That book is now published and available on Amazon.
More Simple Answers to Complicated Problems
Part A, Solving Racism
I know… Saying I can solve racism simply marks me as something of an idiot. It is a complicated and deeply-embedded weakness of the human race. We are programmed with certain instincts that make us fearful of anyone or anything unknown to us, unfamiliar, or obviously different in some manner.
Consider allowing someone like Minnie Mouse to hug my young daughter. As people go, she is somewhat suspicious-looking. Notice the color of her skin on the neck, ankles, and arms. This is a black person apparently wearing white-face makeup. Is that not something suspicious? Something to be cautious about? In fact, look at the mouse ears and black, mouse nose. She’s not even human! She’s an anthropomorphic mouse-lady. Tucker Carlson would warn you against trusting her with the Princess. And if you point out how silly these arguments are about a Disneyland performer in a costume that represents Minnie Mouse, a character we all know and love, I would say, “YES! Exactly! An unknown person hiding her identity under a costume that will put adults and children at ease… and make them vulnerable to who-knows-what?” Maybe Florida Governor DeSaniflush was right to attack Disney by charging his Floridians more in taxes in the Disney name.
Yes, human beans are inherently suspicious, paranoid, and hateful when it comes to groups that are different than the one we identify with.
Of course, there is a simple answer if you are only willing to look at it that way. There should be no racism because we are not different. We are all one race, the human race.
That means, Mr. Toilet-Cleaning-Chemicals, that you and I are actually the same. You are not made, as I have believed incorrectly, of poop-dissolving chemicals as my demented and paranoid brain keeps thinking because of your DeSantis misnomer. You are not the saint you believe you are because of the meaning of your name in Spanish either. We are both human beans. The same race.
And you are the same race as the beautiful young ballerina I pictured before I added the photo of you thinking about eating too many baked beans, and then drinking Coca Cola while eating Mentos. You are not going to explode. Because even if you consume those ingredients you were thinking about, they can’t actually dissolve the poop you are filled with most of your time on Earth as a human bean.
As a teacher I learned the hard way that all kids are kids. They are all human beans. They all have blood and brains and wants and needs and loves and hates. No matter what color they are. No matter what culture they grew up in, or what religion their parents taught them, or failed to teach them. As a teacher, you have to be able to love all of them. Even the ugly ones. Even the ones whose names remind me of poop-dissolving chemicals and seem to be constantly full of fear and hatred and racism.
Here’s the skinny on those things racists need to hear;
The human beans you need to hate and fear and distrust, the truly evil people, come in every color, creed, culture, and calamitous character. Yes, rich white people, they even come in the color white. No matter what Tucker Carlson says… or thinks about a malevolent Minnie Mouse who may somehow be trying to “replace us.”
And the people you need to get more familiar with, whose culture you need to witness, whose stories you need to hear, and you desperately need to learn to love, come in every color too. Yes, rich white people, even in the color white. I am no more a reverse racist than I am a racist.
And there is a simple cure for racism.
Jesus taught it. So did Buddha, Mohammed, Zoaster, Walt Whitman, and Alan Watts. Jean Paul Sartre too, come to think of it.
The cure is to love everybody. Hate nobody. Suprisingly, if you do that simple thing, nobody will hate you in return. Racism is then cured. I know it is not feasible. Not everybody will even bother to listen to this advice. But the world won’t get any worse while you try to make it happen.
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