A work of art often has strange and interesting godparents. They don't even
have to be from the same continent. Or the same millenium. An example:
Let's step back a bit. About 4500 years ago, to be a little more precise.
Our first godfather, an Egyptian ruler by the name of Khafre, wanting to
be remembered forever, decided to erect a monument to himself, his reign
and his glory. Nothing too showy. A self portrait maybe. Musn't be too common
looking, through. Perhaps a nice, mysterious sphinx. Made of limestone,
to last. Somewhere in the neighborhood of 241 feet.
And it was built. And Khafre died. And the sands blew in off the desert.
And, over the next few thousand years, men forgot Khafre's name. The pre-Christian
era passed. Then another 1800 years and more.
Then, the second godfather. On February 11, 1821, Auguste Edouard Mariette
was born in Boulogne, France. Becoming a professor at the age of twenty
or so, he joined the staff of the Louvre, in Paris, in 1849. A year later
he was sent off to Egypt, ending up at Giza's pyramids in 1853, where he
found a limestone head sticking up out of the sand. Mariett set to work
digging away in the sand at the edges of the statue. In only forty years
he had the whole thing uncovered.
Even dashing around from site to site during these years (Giza to Memphis
to Dendur and back again) he seems to have had some time on his hands.
Time enough to write a plot outline, placed in the Egypt he was uncovering,
set sometime in the days of the pharoahs; he wasn't too specific about dates.
News of the story apparently got around, and soon a few other Europeans
began doing rewrites. Like fellow Frenchman Camille du Locle, who turned
the plot outline into a story. And an Italian poet named Ghislanzoni, who
turned the story into a libretto. And finally, an Italian composer named
Verdi, who added music and called the whole thing Aida.
For Classical ninety-one five, this is David Minor.
© 1997 David Minor / Eagles Byte
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