Sunday, December 26, 2010

Operatic Love Story: Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe

After meeting Patti Smith at the opening of the Metropolitan Opera 2010 season (Wagner's Das Rheingold), Maureen O'Dowd decided to read the singer-songwriter's 2010 National Book Award-winning memoir Just Kids:

Smith describes the wondrous odyssey of taking the bus from South Jersey and meeting a curly-haired soul mate who
wanted to help her soar, even as
the pair painfully grappled over the years with Mapplethorpe’s sexuality and his work’s brutality.

For anyone who has had a relationship where the puzzle pieces seem perfect but don’t fit — so, all of us — “Just Kids” is achingly beautiful. It’s “La Bohème” at the Chelsea Hotel; a mix, she writes, of “Funny Face” and “Faust,” two hungry artists figuring out whom to love, how to make art and when to part.

The March morning in 1989 that he died, at 42, she woke up to hear an opera playing on an arts channel on a TV that had been left on. It was Tosca declaring her passion for the painter Cavaradossi, singing "I have lived for love, I have lived for Art." It was her goodbye.

Buy the book here.

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