Sunday, October 16, 2016


Same period of time (1962), same place. The reason why Reg and I are in Rome is only because my sister Anne and her Italian husband, the writer Gerardo Guerrieri, said  'Come! You can work with us.' when we were wondering what was next after our years in Paraguay ended (more about all of it in my ongoing online autobiography).

So we're both working in the office of the Teatro Club, an extraordinary organisation created by Anne and Gerardo which brings international theatre, dance, music - myriad roads really leading to Rome. I'm designing posters for a forthcoming show by the Moisseiev Russian ballet company but meanwhile, Odetta is about to give a solo performance and I'm helping out backstage. 

Odetta, whose unforgettable voice I've never heard before and whose majestic presence overwhelms me, is standing calm and serene before her curtain call while I'm running around panicking in case I've forgotten something and catastrophe is imminent.

Odetta, the Odetta, turns to me smiling like a Buddha and says something...why why why why can't I remember her actual words?...something which means don't sweat the small stuff, but so much more eloquently, and in that voice, with that presence, so calm, it's like a shower of blessings and all my panic melts away and all the panics melt away and you have to laugh.

She goes on stage and she sings her songs and now, all I have to do is to put her records on and I'm back in that moment. If you've never heard Odetta, or even if you have, listen to her. This is from one of her blues albums:


Davoh said...

Australia is a different place.

Davoh said...

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Many thanks for the link, Davoh, Geoffrey has a wonderful voice indeed. So did Odetta. And many others, in lots of different places near and far on this planet. Let's celebrate talent and creativity wherever it happens to be.

Roderick Robinson said...

I'm reminded of the opening lines to one of Raymond Chandler's brilliant private-eye novels. Something like:

The phone rang. The bedside clock said 3 am. A voice said: "Umney here."

"Who?" I asked groggily.

"Umney. Clyde Umney."


"Clyde Umney, the lawyer."

"Ah. I was under the impression we had more than one here in Los Angeles."

I must have read that first time sixty years ago. Apart from the instruction on definite article usage, I loved it for that beautifully conceived surname - perfect for a legal beagle.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Great slice of dialogue from Chandler and impressive that his protagonist wasn't too groggy at 3 am to come up with witty repartee.

I guess you mean 'Who is/was Odetta?' It was her stage name. Of course there must be many others with the same name but I assure you she was unique.

Roderick Robinson said...

Not so. It was this: !...the writer Gerardo Guerrieri..."

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Robbie, okay, I see. This brings home the vanity (mine) of believing people actually follow one's blog posts and therefore it's not necessary to repeat what one has expounded on at some length previously. In this case, I wrote bout Gerardo Guerrieri, my late brother-in-law, not so long ago,in this post:

and also mentioned him at other times.

Roderick Robinson said...

Nope, our wires are still crossed. Neither your late brother-in-law's name, identity, occupation, the number of times you've referred to him, or your vanity are relevant. Simply the use of the definite article ("the") in this context. As RC, educated at Dulwich College, makes clear. I'm trying desperately to be concise.

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Well, at least something in my post caught your interest, even if it was only a wayward "the".