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Saturday, January 6, 2018


This is not a dream, though it has a dream-like flavor in my memory. The Mormon church in the nineteenth century believed in socialism as a matter of principle, and there was a small town run as a communal experiment. Someone had written an opera or musical play of some kind about this town, and we were going to put it on. (Some people in the church, including my older sister.) I would have been 14, let's say, at the time, though I cannot place the date or my exact age with any accuracy. I auditioned for the main part, reading through the part for quite a while. It had notes that were at the top of my range and difficult to reach. Most of it was in a kind of recitative style. There weren't arias that I remember. I got the part, but the composer wanted to charge a certain sum of money for the rights to put it on, so it didn't happen. I was disappointed when my sister told me, but nobody ever mentioned it again. It wasn't that there was a reason for not talking about it, but simply that there was no reason to talk about it. I wasn't disappointed enough to brood about it, and probably nobody else cared more than I did.

What makes this memory peculiar is that it is the memory of something that did not happen. There have been entire decades when I simply did not think about it at all, and it is only recently that I remembered it again, when I was thinking about all the times I have sung or performed music. I think it is a genuine memory because the experiment with Mormon socialism is a historical fact, and too oddly specific to be a spurious product of my imagination. The only thing that would bring things full circle would be to find the opera, somehow, or to see if my mom remembers something about it.

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