The Camino de Assisi.
The Way of St Francis.
Italy: From Florence to Assisi, then on to Rome. Trek For A Dream.
Post 19: July 8, 2018, Sunday. Made it to Spoleto; Still insanely hot!
In Spoleto. Gone 28 days. Day 26 on The Way.
The Beggar’s Opera: An evening with prostitutes, beggars, and thieves.
When I trekked into Spoleto I did the usual thing, search for the basic center of town, usually the main town square, get my bearings, find shade, take off my backpack, drink lots of water, and look for a room. Which is how I landed at the Spoleto Piazza dei Mercato, found a chair and threw off my backpack . . . and was glad to hear a bunch of people speaking . . . the King’s English, or was it the Queen’s English, but, in any event, being familiar with “Received Pronunciation,” I was at least thankful, that I understood what they were saying and I was so desperate to say hello in English to someone, that I was soon engrossed in a delightful conversation, made even more delightful as I slowly found out that this wonderful band of people were prostitutes, beggars, and thieves, or, actors as it turned out. And, they invited me to a musical play that very night, which I quickly accepted because any company would be nice, and the few Italian trekkers I recently met were out there somewhere on the trail, behind me or in front of me, and they reminded me of . . . me, because they were whining about how blazing hot it is and they were going to hold up in Spoleto and besides — it was (and I didn’t know this) the annual SPOLETO FESTIVAL DEI 2MONDI 2018. How was I suppose to know that? I’m on a fundraiser for the Dream Center, so I figured I’m not really supposed to have too much fun — I’m on a mission. Let’s just say, I was rescued again (there were no rooms available at the guidebook suggestions), and ended up splitting my nights between one place and the Albornoz Palace Hotel where my new friends/acqaintances/total strangers, the prostitutes, beggars and thieves, or actors as it turned out, were staying and . . . wow, this place (I’m still at) is fantastic. My body continues to hold up really well, but mentally, wow, I’m struggling. Spiritually — doing great!
So, the evening came, and I actually spent much of the afternoon (after checking into the Hotel; where I also got help getting a ticket to the musical) with my new friends, some of the prostitutes, beggars, and thieves. (On the Camino, someone you met 5 minutes ago is a new friend, sometimes your only friend.) And then, suddenly, it was time to go to the theater, which was cool except — (yes, this happens all the time on the Camino) we had a flash rainstorm. And, hot, windy, yes hot, the rain came down, and I found myself running to the theater with my friends — which turned out to be — the Teatro Nuovo Gian Carlo Menotti theater, and as we got there I was ordered to go one way to the front of the theater, as they ran left to the back of the theater. And that’s pretty much when I had my first confirmation. And I think normally I would have picked up the clue earlier if I wasn’t wasted tired and exhausted from all the trekking, and simply didn’t care, and anyway I was watching the World Cup soccer match. And so, there I was, a very pathetic sight, in my trekking shorts, same old stinky shirt, hiking boots, ragged hair standing in front of the theater — and stunned as all these beautiful people showed up . . . so nicely dressed, suits and ties, beautiful dresses, and lots of glamour, and me, wet, tired, straggled looking, but with a fourth row ticket — fortunately on the aisle seat . . . and then, yes, pretty much then, I got it. I was about to see the most incredible musical play I have ever seen: The Beggar’s Opera, and knowing the story, this 300 year old classic, written in 1728 by John Gay, I just sat there, wet, cold, stunned, with my row mates kind of looking at me, but averting their eyes, and I saw my first friend there, on the stage, in costume, taking a seat, as part of the band, playing the flute, and I noticed the tatoo on her leg I had noticed earlier, yes, it was her, and bammm, the play started . . . and there they were launching onto the stage, some of my new friends that I had been hanging out with that afternoon (watching a soccer match). Prostitutes, beggars and thieves. And it began. The Beggar’s Opera, widely considered to be the first musical comedy, came to such life, made contemporary while holding tight to its amazing history, and in one of the greatest theaters in the world, and there I was in the middle of it, living hour by hour, step by step, on the Camino de Assisi.
Fortunately, all my friends back home would love this interpretation of The Beggar’s Opera, due to its classic libertarian viewpoint, its shots at high society, big government, and just how funny it is, great music, and, well, as the program says: “This new production directed by Robert Carsen brilliantly matches the transgressive mood and restless energy of the original.” I’m hoping this production comes to L.A. Yes, it does have some salty language, but nothing more than what I hear in the halls of the courthouses and in chambers most every day.
And, yes, later that night, in the square, I run into my Italian trekker friends and I say something like, are we trekking out in the morning, and they say, no, too hot, we’re all going to a concert, your coming, so get some rest, and just like that, it looks like I’m spending a few days in Spoleto at this great festival, and at midnight in Spoleto, there were so many people it was hard to move around in any of the town squares, and I loved the good energy, great people, large families, kids everywhere, babies in strollers everywhere, and nothing like the “stuff” I would see in L.A. at midnight.
Breakfast in the morning at the Albornoz Palace Hotel was great, mostly because I ran into many of the talented actors, actresses (now all referred to as ‘actors,’ I know) from The Beggar’s Opera, so I really enjoyed talking with them about how great the musical is, and how impressed I was. And — I particularly told the actors how impressed I was with their acting and singing with–no mikes! No sound enhancement, no mikes, nothing, just their amazing voices and the great band/small orchestra–in an amazing theater. And then my Italian trekker friends arrived and then I realized we are all going to hear Francesco de Gregori that night in the Piazza Duomo and it is one of the highlight concerts of the festival–but, we got tickets, and we’re going. I’m being ordered around a lot. And, I like it a lot. And by now, everyone knows why I’m doing the Camino, and we share stories of wanting to help people, and I think I’m supposed to not have fun, but certainly none of these people can except that, they live. That’s what they do. And they all tell me I have to learn to live . . . life. And tonight we are really going to live, and we are all going to sing our hearts out at the Franceso de Gregori concert — but first, I’m ordered to do something about . . . what I’m wearing. And so . . . they take me shopping, and a few hours later, I’m thinking I look pretty snappy in my new Italian out on the town clothes and new shoes, ready for the concert. Now, they’re willing to be seen with me. Amen. And, I don’t even bother to ask them, how they manage bringing nice clothes in their backpack, I just let that one ride. . . .
And, as we were walking to the concert last night, I realized I’m changing. This must be what people sometimes talk about . . . and I just haven’t had much of it. And when I saw the piazza with hundreds, maybe several thousand people taking their seats in front of the great Cattedrale di St. Maria Assunta in the Piazza del Duomo, I knew this was going to be great . . . . Francesco De Gregori, as soon as the first couple of notes were played everyone joined in . . . including me, singing something . . . in Italian. I’m never coming home.
None of this was planned. Not by me anyway.
Miss you all,
The Beggar’s Opera. The cast taking a bow.
Teatro Nuovo Gian Carlo Menotti, The Beggar’s Opera. People starting to come in.
On my left is the great actor, Robert Burt, who played Mr. Peachum in the Beggar’s Opera. On my right is the great actor, Kraig Thornber, who played Lockit in the musical. And, yes, I was still wearing my outfit for the musical the night before. Mercy!
Two fine actresses from the musical.
On my left is a great actor, Sean Lopeman, who played the wonderful role of Fitch. On my right is the flauto traverso musician, Anna Besson.
Some of the stars of the musical. They were fantastic.
Francesco De Gregori in concert at the Piazza Duomo in Spoleto.
And, the Prayer Cards. I had some quality prayer time with the Prayer Cards at the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta at the Piazza del Duomo.
Bentley. Wondering if I’m ever going to come home.
CJ, keeping watch. Don’t worry, I shall return.