Florida Poet Laureate Peter Meinke's response to an aria from Verdi’s brutal opera 'Rigoletto'

Poet's Notebook.

click to enlarge Florida Poet Laureate Peter Meinke's response to an aria from Verdi’s brutal opera 'Rigoletto'
Production still via Unitel

On Valentine’s Day we attended a star-studded dinner in Sarasota created by conceptual artist John Sims, called “The Square Root of Love” (Sims is the former coordinator of mathematics at Ringling College of Art and Design.) Various artists, including an elderly formal poet, performed between five splendid courses, but the most memorable was the soaring voice of opera singer Michelle Giglio.

Her rich soprano notes threatened the crystal and almost stopped our hearts as she sang while strolling around the tables. Here’s a poem responding to an aria from Verdi’s brutal opera “Rigoletto” recently staged to a sold-out house at St. Petersburg’s Palladium Theater. Look below to hear “La Donna” sung by Luciano Pavarotti.

La Donna è mobilé was born
on March 11 1851
streaming from the vaulted Fenicé
over Venetian waterways:
a lyrical phenomenon

The knotted bloodshot plot torn
from Victor Hugo’s heart-worn
tale  opens to let the Duke display
La Donna è mobilé . . .

and everything launches from there: scorn
lust  betrayal  murder warm
and cold hearts—an auto-da-fé
where Gilda dies and evil gets away—
but from this riptide rose the deathless song:
La Donna è mobilé           

—Peter Meinke

click to enlarge Florida Poet Laureate Peter Meinke's response to an aria from Verdi’s brutal opera 'Rigoletto'
Jeanne Meinke

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