In the December issue of Opera News, Brian Kellow wrote, in On the Beat, about an opera he imagines. He calls Jean Rhys's novel, , a "novel that sings." I have yet to read Wide Sargasso Sea, and if I were prone to hairshirts, I suppose I should slip one on for this transgression. But it's a sin that can be remedied, and I will do so before someone takes Kellow up on his suggestion and makes his dream come true.
I have a dream of my own - a similar dream - this one taking root one morning in my local Live from the Met in HD theatre watching the latest production of Die Walküre, in which twin siblings fall into tragic love.
Which reminded me of another tragic love story between twins, with a difference. Siegmund and Sieglinde, in Wagner's story, are innocents, discovering their relationship when it is too late to turn back. Jaime and Cersei Lannister were raised together, their first sexual experiences were together, and they continue this relationship all during Cersei's marriage to King Robert Baratheon and Jaime's tenure in the Kingsguard, the members of which are sworn to virtual celibacy. Cersei's son, the heir, is actually her brother's son, not the king's.
Within the opening chapters of George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, we see them once again consummating this relationship and, upon discovery by a 10-year-old boy, committing a crime that follows them through several thousand ensuing pages.
My dream opera is called The Redemption of Jaime Lannister. The name of the signature aria that would play through the ensuing scenes, albeit with different musical expression, is called "The Things I Do For Love." We first hear this aria just after the crime mentioned above, sung by Jaime (as he is the character who says the line). The basic arc of the opera would go something like this:
Jamie and Cersei continue their illicit love affair under the nose of the King. One of the king's trusted companions suspects and is about to tell him, when both he and the King are murdered. Jaime and Cersei's vicious teen-age son ascends to the throne. The country rises in rebellion.
Jaime is captured during one of the battles and is sent back to court in the custody of Brienne the Beauty, who is so very not a beauty but very handy with a sword, to ransom the daughter of the trusted companion, now being forced to marry the cruel kingling.
Along the way, various adventures ensue, in one of which Jaime loses his sword hand, depriving him of his only claim to fame and accomplishment. Brienne saves his life. They argue and talk. He disparages her but finally comes to a reluctant admiration.
Coming finally to court, Jaime discovers that his sister has not only been unfaithful to him with various other men, but her cruel streak has been unleashed even further by power and paranoia, causing her to egg on her vicious son. Stuff happens. Brienne and the daughter are sentenced to be burned to death. Jaime must choose between his sister and what virtue he has left, what virtue he has rediscovered. He realizes that he loves Brienne, and fights for her. The son tries to intervene in this battle, angry with Jaime and determined to kill the women himself. In trying to prevent this, Jaime accidentally kills him, his only son. (tragic version of "The Things I Do For Love")
And of course, since this is opera, and George R.R. Martin, who has killed off more main characters than Verdi ever did, Jaime is grievously wounded by his former companions in the Kingsguard and dies in Brienne's arms just as the rebel forces invade the city and choose a new king.
I actually mentioned this to Martin at a book signing one time - just the idea - hey, how about an opera called The Redemption of Jaime Lannister - and he actually looked up from signing with a surprised but pleased little laugh. There are even a couple of songs he's already written for the novel - The Rains of Castamere, for one, and The Bear and the Maiden Fair. Oh, this thing just begs to be staged.
I have no idea what Martin intends for Jaime and Brienne in the long run. He is, at the present moment, two novels out from the end. But I kind of like my version. I really, really wish someone would write it. And can you imagine the lines around the block of people younger than 55 who would be coming to see this?
Somebody actually wrote a recently staged opera built around Anna Nicole, for pete's sake. Surely The Redemption of Jaime Lannister is right around the corner. Maybe just after The Wide Sargasso Sea.