A Flowering Tree

At the Mostly Mozart Festival on Thursday, August 13.

This is the hardest thing to write about: the thing that surprises you, envelops you. You sit rapt with a straight back and clasped hands, and afterward you sigh with mingled happiness and regret, because it is so beautiful and because it is over and because you will never experience it new again.

When I went home after the performance, I babbled happily to Sean (who had to work late and couldn’t join me) about John Adams’s new opera, and when I paused to draw breath, he smiled and said, “You’re using lovely again.” I felt somewhat abashed. Lovely is my gushiest word, and I often overuse it, but it was appropriate in this case. To me, lovely goes beyond beautiful. It has a goodness about it, a special quality that draws me out at my most earnest. If I use lovely, it is only because, well, I love it.