Of men and music

December 2, 2009


So Pau Gasol likes opera, and he doesn’t care who knows it. The Lakers star was invited the first time by his boss — and what can you say? But Gasol was hooked, as a lot of people are, and his acquaintance with fellow Spaniard Placido Domingo has added a personal dimension. The LA Times story about Gasol and Domingo is at THIS link.

I was telling someone the other night about Eleanor Gehrig’s account of how her husband — Lou Gehrig — became an opera buff. She wrote in one of her biographies of Gehrig that she convinced him to go with her on condition that it be kept a secret. In the 1930s, Gehrig had good reason to fear that he would be heckled mercilessly if the other players found out that he had been to the Met.

Eleanor picked the tragic Tristan und Isolde and gave Lou a thorough prepping beforehand. During the performance, she glanced over at him and found him totally absorbed, then with tears in his eyes, and finally “an emotional wreck.”


What Eleanor hadn’t anticipated was that her husband, who had spoken German before he spoke English, was listening to the opera in the original language — not filtered by a half-baked translation such as we are usually subjected to.

Gehrig didn’t only became a frequent visitor at the Met, Eleanor wrote, but she would often come home and find him lying on the floor of their apartment listening to an opera on the radio while he followed along in the libretto.

“I discovered that this was no automaton, no unfeeling giant,” Eleanor wrote. “A sensitive and even soft man who wept while I read him Anna Karenina ….”

I’m guessing the Babe never knew.


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