The foyer and seating room of the Metropolitan Opera.
Last week while in New York City, I experienced the Metropolitan Opera for the first time. Both the opera house and the singing were breath-taking.
The current production, Tosca, has all the makings of a good opera, a self-absorbed diva, over the top descriptions of love, (Did Puccini really write for the lovers to compare it to a rainbow in the clouds???) a would-be rapist as the villain and everyone with whom the audience develops a relationship dies tragically. I immensely enjoyed it, but I must admit, my 21st century microwave-instantly attention span was tested by the 3 hrs and 10 minutes of slow paced action sung in Italian. Luckily, there were English subtitles displayed on the backs of the seats in front of us or I would have missed out on most the story’s happenings.
From these subtitles I learned that the talented diva, Floria Tosca, was a terribly jealous woman. Just before the audience meets Tosca, we see the portrait her love, Mario, is creating of Mary Magdalene. She is blond with blue eyes, though Tosca’s hair is raven and her eyes brown. As the diva is calling, Mario begins singing about how much he loves Tosca when he discovers his friend Cesare who had long since been imprisoned for political dissent. He has escaped and Mario promises to protect him. He quickly prompts him to hide immediately, saying that Tosca is a jealous woman. The coast is cleared just as Tosca enters.
She greets Mario graciously, showering him with terms of endearment. These dramatic expressions were a little too gushing for me, but maybe that’s the way opera rolls. Then she sees the blond portrait and switches into a completely different mode, full of resentment and bittnerness. He reassures her of his love, saying she is the only one for him and she appears to accept it, but then presses him for more assurance.
At this point my eyes were rolling backwards in my head. I whispered to my friend who was hosting me that she should just accept his reassurances so we ALL could move on.
Again she appears to be satisfied, but then she requests in a small voice that he change the portrait’s eyes to brown and the hair to raven. He assures her of his love and she exits. Mario and Cesare then exit to find a safe hiding place.
Enter Scarpio, the worst villain I’ve ever met on stage. Later in the opera he sings about how he’d rather conquer women than woo them and move onto the next after the conquest. He lusts after Tosca, but [spoiler alert] she kills him before he can rape her.
I didn’t know all this when I met Scarpio in Act I, but I knew he was devious.
Scarpio found a fan in the hiding spot in the church that belonged to a woman who came to pray. The fan’s owner happened to be the blond blued eyed woman that inspired Mario’s painting. Scarpio swiftly suggests that Mario is cheating on her with the fan’s owner and Tosca believes him in T-minus 2 seconds.:( As she sings in the anguish of Mario’s alleged betrayl she viciously stabs the eyes of the portrait.
Tosca, don’t you think your man deserves the benefit of the doubt? He’s assured you of his love over and over, over and over. For his part, maybe this is a big red flag that this is always going to be an issue in your relationship. Some self examination is in order.
Whew. Good thing this is fiction.
Scarpio then suggests she confirm Mario’s wear abouts. Soon after her exit, Scarpio sends his men after her, suspecting that Cesare is with Mario. Her jealousy leads to capture of both men and ultimately all of their tragic deaths.
Sad story, but I’m so cultured now.:)
Jealousy: It can’t be that bad, right? I like green.
A dear friend once told me how she appreciated that I wasn’t a jealous girl. I asked her what prompted such a generous compliment. She told me how she was explaining to her sister the difficulties she was having with her then roommate. She felt like she couldn’t talk about how she loved her job or talk about how excited she was about her new boyfriend because her roommate would become resentful and abrasive. My friend then told her sister how she assumed every girl was like me in being happy for their friends’ success, but she was learning that wasn’t the case.
I was happy she was happy I was happy in her happiness.
There’s lots of reasons why I’m not a jealous person. Two of them are because of my Dad and because of my America-loving idealism sub-paradigm. (The restored gospel of Jesus Christ is my first paradigm. The second is the Constitution.) My Dad always told me that I could do and be anything I wanted. I believed him and still do. So when I see others’ success, I feel like it’s a demonstration that what they’re doing exists in a realm of possibility for me. I don’t see it in terms of if they’re winning, I’m losing as if there’s some zero-sum equation of success in which I’m competing. Further, the American dream centers on the creation of opportunity through hard work. Keeping my feet engaged in the hard work of chasing my dreams is intensely satisfying. Why wouldn’t I be happy for others who are doing the same?
But I have been jealous. Twice. One was a one time event and the other was for an extended duration.
Enter hot lacrosse boy in my early college days on stage left. We’d been close for years and he always wanted to be my boyfriend, but I kept him at a distance (I had walls then that I’ve since dissolved, gratefully). He finally moved on, but we remained close friends. Enter new blond girlfriend at his lacrosse game on stage right when I drove 2 hours to see him play. He was so hot all sweaty after the game. From the stands, I saw him walking across the field, but his smile was for the blond girl waiting by the fence. I WAS SO JEALOUS. It’s a nasty emotion. I remember thinking, “Why am I feeling this way? What is my deal?” I felt it the strongest when he reached out and hugged her.
The other was for most of the recovery of an ended relationship. I was crazy about him, but in the end I found out he was more interested in keeping alive the memory of his previous love who devised and implemented her own bailout than he was interested in me. In my view, she deserved none of his love, but even in her absence she was getting what I wanted. I WAS SO JEALOUS. It’s a nasty emotion.
Jealousy isn’t rational. Maybe I was being too hard on Tosca. Naaahhhh.
Once we’re stripped of jealousy, we can better know God
In a revelation to Joseph Smith in 1831, the Lord promised the saints that if they stripped themselves of jealousies and fears and sufficiently humbled themselves before Him, “the veil would be rent and you shall see me and know that I am—not with the carnal neither natural mind, but with the spiritual” (Doctrine & Covenants 67:10).
The Lord went on to explain how man is able to bear His presence, “For no man has seen God at any time in the flesh, except quickened by the Spirit of God” (Doctrine & Covenants 67:11).
King Benjamin, an ancient American prophet, taught that the “natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19).
It’s beautiful that it is through Christ’s power, His Atonement, we are able to put off the natural man. When we rely on Him, we can strip ourselves of jealousies and fears and sufficiently humble ourselves before God to receive revelations He has for us.
Christ’s power can wipe away jealousy. It’s a nasty emotion. I never want to own it ever again. I’d much rather shed my natural tendencies and receive a greater portion of the Spirit of God.
Joseph Smith taught that God did not give any revelation to Him that He wasn’t willing to give to anyone else. They just needed to prepare themselves to receive the communication. It’s not a zero-sum game in God’s practice of providing revelations. He wants to reveal Himself to His children. We just have to prepare ourselves. One step is kicking the nasty emotion of jealousy by accessing the Atonment of Jesus Christ.
Tags: building eternal relationships, dating, faith in Jesus Christ, friends, God is our loving Heavenly Father, grace of God, happiness, jealousy, Joseph Smith, modern prophet, mormon beliefs, mormon cult, Mormonism, putting off the natural man through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, repentance through Christ