call me, greenhorn?

Maggie bought me what was the greatest graduation gift of all time: tickets to “Moby-Dick” the opera. That’s right, I went to the opera.  It was completely, without a doubt, utterly and truly magnificent.

I had never been to an opera before, but I had read Moby-Dick multiple times (in fact, it’s my favorite book of all time).  The writer of the opera did this amazing trick with my brain – he undid all of my ingrained Moby-Dick wires and then put them back together again.  By the end of the show, I was zapped.  The goose-bumps throughout the performance were evidence of this fact.

Most people know the famous first line of the epic novel, “Call me Ishmael.”  But Heggie (the opera’s composer) called this character “Greenhorn” throughout the opera.  Then, as Greenhorn is being rescued after his ship and Ahab have been destroyed by the white whale, he names himself “Ishmael.”  So there’s a man who has been searching for himself during the entire opera, going to sea only because it was a “cold November in his soul,” and then realizing that he is Ishmael. 

The Biblical allusions are reverberating throughout my soul.  If you don’t quite get it, go back and read Genesis.  It will be as if the Bible just threw a whaling harpoon into your nerve system as you quiver with delight.

Thank you Mr. Herman Melville, for reading the Bible to me.

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2 thoughts on “call me, greenhorn?

  1. Sounds wonderful but I wish the composer (librettists?) had not changed Ishmaels name to Greenhorn, even though the character ultimately takes on the biblical name. Melville had it right the first time; it’s perfect, why change it? Nevertheless, I am looking forward to what looks like an amazing performance.

    1. I know, kind of strange. We could get real deep here. Maybe the change is supposed to reflect some sort of post-modern identity finding journey; kind of like the adolescents of our day who are taking ever longer to “find themselves.” But who knows? See the opera anyway!

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