Hope, Blood, and Turandot

by jenniferbalboa




Those are the answers to the Turandot riddles: what is born each night and dies each dawn, what flickers red and warm like a flame but is not fire, and what is like ice but burns like fire.


Turandot was not able to answer Calaf’s riddle, though. Or was she?


* * *


Next year will be critical. Especially the first six months. Make or break. Before my thirtieth year ends, I would already see the work that the academe would allow me to pursue. I hope it is the same work I desire to pursue. I hope whoever prevails would be convincing enough to still allow the other pleasure from being prevailed upon.


January to April will be the months of the comprehensive exams. May to August will be the thesis proposal defense. I cannot make my proposal defense without passing the comps. I cannot start working on the core poems without being able to defend my proposal. Then August onwards will be for writing, writing, writing. The poems, singing on paper. The next round(s) of defense – the defense of the poems – will follow only after I am done writing my thirty poems, my thesis, of course.


The writing must be accomplished as quickly as possible. The longer one takes to write the thesis, the bigger one has to pay. Last time I heard, I would need at least twenty thousand per semester. I am pretty much solved for the comps, so I must now start saving for the writing and defense terms. I have been begging my brother that he and I start playing sets at night, so I could at least get my lunch money from singing, and leave my salary untouched for the bills and the tuition. I think he’s still contemplating whether I could do a Fergie or an Aguilera. We have to play new stuff, he says. He squirms at my suggestion of me doing a Mitchell or a Baez. I don’t think he even knows them.


Fine, I tell him, as long as you don’t make me sing anything that would prompt the audience to throw their chairs at me. Like Nessun Dorma.


* * *


I was able to acquire a copy of The Mirror Has Two Faces. I was surprised at Nessun Dorma being played in the finale, because all the while I was expecting to hear the theme song (I Finally Found Someone, which was played during the end credits).


I have a video copy of Nessun Dorma as sung by Brightman. I have always been content on listening to it as it is, not feeling the need anymore to find out what the Italian lyrics might mean. It is by Puccini, so it must have some tragedy in it, I thought. And I have always assumed it to be religious of sorts, what with Brightman singing it dressed up like a gothic Virgin Mary, with red streaming down from the pedestal from which she sang. And a halo of stars behind her head.


So I wondered what would Nessun Dorma be doing in the climax of a Streisand movie, the one romantic movie she made which I specifically remember her speak of with something like, “This time, I want the girl to get the boy.” I do remember her not getting the men in Yentl, and The Way We Were. If Nessun Dorma was a tragic/religious song, why would they play it at the end of a love story ending happily?


Questions only a simpleton would bear despite the presence of Google and YouTube.


Nessun Dorma is a love song. And it has stars written in it.


* * *



Posted here are three versions. The Brightman one that I have, one by Pavarotti who is supposedly the best interpreter of it, and one kick-ass rendition by Aretha Franklin. Franklin sings some parts in English.
















* * *


The day after Christmas, right before me, my brother, and cousin Aizel’s Far-view family went to see Iskul Bukol, my brother was showing me Bituing Walang Ningning videos from the web. He was singing its praises. He said Willie Cruz is a genius. I think Willie Cruz is already a FAMAS hall-of-famer for the song and/or musical score category. Bituing Walang Ningning is one of the songs he won a FAMAS for, I believe.


I tried to point out to my brother how the figurative devices used in the lyrics make the song richer. Paradox, irony, and lots and lots of hyperbole. It is a song of contradictions and exaggerations. The hallmarks of romance, eh? I don’t think he was listening to me, he was listening to Sharon.


One more endearing thing about that song is its being mid-ranged. One does not have to be of Nessun Dorma standards to be able to belt Bituing Walang Ningning.


I guess Bituing Walang Ningning would be one more song for which I could get chairs flying towards us onstage should I attempt singing it.


* * *


At Trinoma, the Iskul Bukol screening we got tickets for was for 3 p.m. (incidentally, Miss Bituing Walang Ningning was in Iskul Bukol). There was more than enough time for my nephew Kodi to look for new acquisitions from the toy department.


As I did my own roaming, I chanced upon a shelf of neon glow-in-the-dark sticker stars. I immediately grabbed several packs and chose over them. I ended up narrowing my choices to two.


The packs both have the same number of stars – twelve. Both had one crescent moon each. One pack had its stars colored, the other had them plain dirty white. The colored pack had a smiley face on its biggest star – which made me initially want to return it to the shelf. But I also thought I could just not use that one star, maybe I could give it away to Kodi to add to his Far-view planetarium. All the rest I keep. I’m making my own Isaac ceiling.


I still couldn’t decide, so, carrying the two packs, I walked towards my cousins and brother, for their opinion over the matter. All of them were for the colored stars. I still couldn’t make up my mind because I wanted to know if the colors would show in the dark, and if I’d be seeing the silly smiley etched on the biggest star, the pink star –


Then, a weird thing happened –


The lights went off! And instantly I looked at the packs of stars I had in my hands, with my cousin telling me amidst the shrieks of the shoppers, “O ayan, pinagbigyan ka!” Right then and there I knew what the two packs would look like in the dark. The colored pack just had the same whitish neon glow with the uncolored pack. So what’s the point of getting the colored pack? The uncolored pack is much better. It can blend with the color of the ceiling in the day, and yet be visible in the night.


As for the smiley on the star in the colored pack, it didn’t show in the dark. Doesn’t matter. I walked through the dark and returned the colored pack back in the shelf. The lights started coming back as I paid in the counter for my pack of stars, as my brother gave the bagger girl his usual silly pick-up lines.


* * *


The English translation of Nessun Dorma has a line that goes watch the stars that tremble with love and hope.



I have not yet made my Isaac ceiling. I just realized that standing on my table would not let me reach the ceiling, I still have to put a stool on the table and stand on the stool. Quite easy actually, if not for the fact that my table is the folding kind which has roller wheels on its feet.


The stars are still packed, dangling beside my bathroom towel. They do glow in the dark, just the same. At least, for the moment, until I find a way to balance myself on a stool on top of a moving table, they are within reach.