The Tales of Hoffman by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)
Speaking of opera, we have a somewhat different take on suffering in Verdi’s The Tales of Hoffman. Verdi chose Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffman (1776-1822), a German author, critic and composer, as the protagonist in a highly symbolic and fictitious tale. Hoffman is aided by his muse in his dangerous pursuit of romantic love.
In mythology, a muse is a guiding spirit and a source of inspiration. In P-A our muse is our intuitive True self and is perfectly defined as our guiding spirit and source of inspiration but also our connection to the Implicate Order or Simple Reality. Verdi was inspired by his muse as a composer and had those insights that artists have in the creative process because they are often working in the present moment.
At the end of the opera Hoffman is in a state of despair having lost all of the real and imagined lovers that he had pursued. His muse attempts to comfort him with the profound observation that “you’re suffering is blessed.” The muse according to some critics is saying that Hoffman still has his creative, artistic abilities to comfort him and that perhaps he will write better stories and more beautiful music as a result of his suffering.
Suffering, however, is not the source of our inspiration or our creative abilities but does offer us the opportunity to practice choosing response over reaction. If Hoffman was blessed, it was his ability to create beauty and benefit from the insightful truths often associated being in the present moment. Experiencing the “feeling” associated with truth and beauty is indeed a blessing, the only blessing there is.
References and notes are available for the essays on this blog.
Find a much more in-depth discussion on this blog and in printed books by Roy Charles Henry.