Friday, October 17, 2014

I met Jenny

A week ago on a Sunday evening, after visiting my husband in the hospital in Minneapolis where he is being treated for some complications following his recent cancer surgery, I drove over to the Danish American Center for a much needed, relaxing evening of music in their beautiful atrium.

Jenny Lind, 1849
It was there I met Jenny.

The Swedish Nightengale, Jenny Lind, was visiting Minneapolis all the way from Sweden in the year 1849.

This was expertly done through the beautiful soprano voice of Carolyn Pratt, Oberlin Convervatory-trained opera singer and performing soloist. Ms. Pratt convincingly assumed the role, dressed in a gown replicated to match the one in Jenny Lind's portrait which was exhibited on an antique easel and served as a backdrop. Accompanying her on the piano was Mary Goetz, a performing pianist.

It was nothing short of magnificent. The atrium was filled to overflowing. The sun shone through the atrium windows as if to shine a spotlight on Ms. Pratt as she sang as beautifully as we all imagined Jenny Lind herself sang. Pieces from Mendelssohn, Taubert, Schumann and Chopin were sung in Swedish. Between selections, Ms. Pratt spoke as Jenny, telling of her life, her studies in music, her travels, the stages she sang on and the audiences around the world.

Along the way, she met Hans Christian Andersen, and became good friends with him.  Andersen, however, thought of her as much more of a friend and wanted to marry her. In her mid-twenties, Jenny knew she was experiencing only the beginning of a budding career and preferred to continue with her dream of singing and performing. There was nothing quite like it, she said.

Carolyn Pratt, soprano soloist and Mary Goetz, pianist
Andersen wrote several fairy tales about his friend and love, Jenny. Among them is the delightful story, The Nightengale.

One of my favorite selections was the Norwegian Echo Song. Much requested by audiences all around the world, Ms. Lind; rather, Miss Pratt, does an echo with her voice, cupping her hands to shout out, tilting her head to softly echo back. I'd really never heard anything quite like it.

Following the concert, a Danish supper was served which was equally as wonderful as the concert had been.

All in all, more than than evening of enjoyment with beautiful soothing music, good food, and seeing my Danish American friends again, it was nourishment for my soul.

After several weeks of worry about my husband and his surgery, his re-hospitalizations, taking care of him at home and not seeing him recover as we'd hoped, the evening was a welcome respite and blessing to me.

The musical evening comes back to me at just the moment I need it and helps me remember the beauty in the world. My husband will recover from what they're calling "just a bump in the road" and the music will go on.