My friend Scott recently shared a beautiful piece of music with me – Ombra mai fu, an aria from the opera Xerxes by Handel. This recording by the Japanese countertenor Yoshikazu Mera is sublime and ethereal.
The words praise the shade of a tree as Xerxes sits beneath it.
- Ombra mai fu di vegetabile,
- cara ed amabile,
- soave più.
- Never was shade
- of dear and amiable vegetable
- More sweet
I get such a feeling of utter peace when I listen to it. Sometimes when life gets stressful or confusing, I love to listen to a calming piece of music or read a beautiful passage of literature. It helps me to come back to a centered place within.
I then found a video of someone practicing tameshigiri – the Japanese practice of testing swords and swordsmen against a target. Yoko, a horizontal cut is one of the most diffucult. Kesa is a downward diagonal cut. I find the combination of the aria and the visuals strangely hypnotic. This recording of Ombra mai fu is sung by the American soprano Renee Fleming.