Opera and Sin

Bel CantoHere is a wonderful passage from Bel Canto.

Lacking any real or interesting sins to confess, he [a young priest] offered up the imagined sin of opera one Wednesday afternoon as his greatest sacrifice to Christ.

“Verdi or Wagner?” said the voice from the other side of the screen.

“Both,” Father Arguedas said, but when he recovered himself from the surprise of the question he changed his answer.  “Verdi.”

“You are young,” the voice replied.  “Come back and tell me again in twenty years, if God allows that I am here.”

The young priest strained to recognize the voice.  Certainly he knew all the priests at the San Pedro Church.  “Is it not a sin?”

“Art is not a sin.  It’s not always good.  But it is not a sin.”  the voice paused for a minute and Father Arguedas slipped a finger into the black band of his collar, trying to move some of the thick warm air into his shirt.  “Then again, some of the libretti . . . well, try to concentrate on the music.  The music is the truth of opera.”

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