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Hadestown, an opera
Open letter to Anais Mitchell

Dear Anais,

I've listened to your opera "Hadestown" twice.  The first time I was at home, and I sat in my favorite chair and followed all the words of all the songs  from the booklet in the CD package.  Thanks for including the libretto, it's a godsend for people like me who focus on the words.  I was, quite frankly, entranced.  I am a generation older than you, but I also learned and loved the Greek myths as a child, and I, also, grew up in the country  with the freedom to wander among fields, woods and steams, looking for the spirits.   As a young girl, I was particularly drawn to the tales about girls, and Persephone was my first favorite.  A bit later, it was the tragic love story of Orpheus and Eurydice that spoke to me.  And there in your opera were both girls, both stories combined!

The second time I was driving from my home in southern New Hampshire to a hospital near Boston; I had just got the news that my mother  was in the Emergency Room with internal bleeding.  Although this was not the first time, and I had actually kept an overnight bag packed just in case for the last six months, I was still agitated.  I had to drive safely, yet I needed to get away from the mental pictures of my 91-year-old mother alone in the hospital.  I tried the radio & gave up - too many crises, accidents, deaths.  Then I realized  that I had a copy of "Hadestown"  in the car, and I began to play it.

Anais, I cannot tell you how amazingly right it was.  Your music and words, the whole dark, beautiful story of life and death.   I found myself hoping "maybe this time  Eurydice will be saved", even though I knew the end.  And when I heard the lines

"the coldest night of the coldest year/Comes right before the spring
the darkest hour of the darkest night/Comes right before the dawn"

I had the almost uncanny sense that we were together.  I was right there on the path from Hades to the upper world, following Orpheus, willing him to be strong.   And she was right here in the car with me, asking "Is this going to be the last time I'll see my mother?"

Well, the CD ended just before I reached Rte 128.  Good, because I would have had to turn it off, as the driving got really scary and I'm not used to highways.  When I got to the Emergency Room they were giving my mother oxygen and blood transfusions and all kinds of tests.  She was hooked up to various machines & looked exhausted.  They kept her in the hospital from Thursday afternoon to Monday, and  I was there most of the time, just going home Saturday night for some clothes and rest.   But by that afternoon we had begun to annoy each other, and she yelled at one of the nurses, so I knew she was out of danger.  This was confirmed by the doctors late on Monday, when they discharged her and she said "But it's raining!  why can't I wait and go home in the morning?"  It had been raining all weekend, and was third day of a 3-day Nor'easter with record rainfall.  I drove her home through flooded roads, and spent the night thankfully on her couch.

Anyway... I do love your opera with all its levels: poverty and riches, death and life, the loves that we lose and the walls that we build  to keep out fear.  I love the voices of your friends on the recording, and I'd really like to see it performed.   I'd even travel to the depths of Vermont!    By the way, I did hear you at a concert in Keene a few years ago.  I don't  know if you remember, but I was one of a small group of Quaker groupies who came up to you during the intermission, and told you that although this was a shared gig, with three other good musicians, we had come to see you.

What I wanted to say then, as now, is simply "thank you, and please keep on."

As in, keep singing, keep writing, keep hoping.  Persephone started out as a joyous little girl running through the fields.   She made the flowers bloom, and as she approached the frost melted and the trees turned green.  Then she was captured by Hades, taken underground, and the earth grew cold and dark.

In the myth she is allowed to return for half the year, giving us the seasons.  In the opera, as I understand it, she never leaves the underworld, but she is able to comfort her companions, and lifts her glass to Orpheus, and to the bird "who sings in the dead of night".

For me, you are that bird,and I made it through the night to sunrise.  I can see that I'll be listening to your music again and again.

Thank you, and good-night.

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This is great writing. I hope you sent it ti Anais, and also wonder if you'd make it publicly viewable. I'd point it out to people who would appreciate it, but it's up to you.


Yes, I am sending it to Anais today! And making it viewable to the public.. thanks for your comments, too


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