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In the 60s, I saw with my own eyes the stunning perfection of the most famous sculpture of all time: The Pietà.
According to Wickipedia, “In 1964, The Pietà was lent by the Vatican to the 1964-65 New York World's Fair to be installed in the Vatican pavilion. People stood in line for hours to catch a glimpse from a conveyor belt moving past the sculpture. It was returned to the Vatican after the fair.”
I was on that conveyor anticipating my first glimpse of the well-known sculpture. The display had blue floodlights giving the white marble an aura of holiness. When it appeared, I was breathless and in awe of this magnificent work by Michelangelo Buonarroti. The memory has stayed in my mind as if it were yesterday. The work of art’s spiritual aura made indelible marks on my soul. Great art will do that!
“Made in 1498-1499, the Pietà is a world-famous work of Renaissance sculpture housed in St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City. It is the first of a number of works of the same theme by the artist. The statue was commissioned for the French Cardinal Jean de Bilhères, who was a representative in Rome.
The sculpture, in Carrere marble, was made for the cardinal's funeral monument, but was moved to its current location, the first chapel on the right as one enters the basilica, in the 18th century. It is the only piece Michelangelo ever signed.”
When you see the grandeur of something up close and personal, your perspective is changed forever. I sat on a gymnasium floor with a crowd of hundreds listening to Louie Armstrong when he was in his prime. Trumpet in one hand, handkerchief in the other, he crooned for over an hour, took a break, and then crooned for another hour. We sat spellbound swaying to the music. We came to dance, and we melted at his feet savoring each familiar, throaty phrase.
On that same floor, I whirled with my future husband to the “Big Band” sounds of Less Brown and his Band of Renown. For most of us, this was our first experience listening to a live orchestra of singers and performers. Our tiny college town was graced by many famous performers. On that same dance floor, Margaret Whiting and Peggy Lee serenaded us. It wasn’t so much the fame that surrounded these singers, but the quality of their performance that sent tingles up my arm. Here were voices of pure perfection, smooth as honey and always on pitch. Remarkable talent witnessed first-hand.
The exquisite thrill of hearing live music or watching performers on stage surpasses any recorded performance by far. When the Army/Navy Marching Band played a concert in our town I was very young, but I will never forget. Bouncing on my seat, listening to the trumpets, trombones and percussion instruments made me a believer. Truly, seeing is believing!
I’d love to hear of your experiences witnessing a live performance or a famous work of art. Please share with us!