Monday, April 04, 2011

The Song of Life

(Warning to readers: This is another installment in my ongoing defense of the reincarnation of the Twilight Zone in the mid–1980s.)

The episode that aired 25 years ago tonight, "Grace Note," made my point, I think.

It was about an aspiring (but struggling) opera singer who received a special gift from her dying sister (named Mary) — a glimpse into her own future.

Mary said she wanted to be remembered, and her sibling assured her she would be. "Until my dying day, you will always be in my heart," she said. But Mary had her doubts and, later, made the proverbial wish on a shooting star — for her sister the singer.

Still later, on her deathbed, Mary encouraged her sister to "follow the music" that only the two of them seemed to hear — but urged her to return.

And the older sister followed the music ... to what was the then–modern day of 1986, where she saw herself starring in La Traviata.

She returned to Mary's bedside in 1966, where Mary gave her a pendant with her picture in it.

It was the same pendant that the older sister had seen herself looking at in her dressing room in her glimpse into the future.

Satisfied that her wish for her sister would be fulfilled, Mary died.

You probably wouldn't recognize anyone in the cast — unless you happen to be a devotee of opera. The star of the episode was Julia Migenes, a Grammy–winning opera singer but hardly a household name, either now or in 1986.

Her life has been devoted to music. She has rarely been on the screen — and sometimes only to sing (although "only," in this usage, refers strictly to the number, not quality, of the tasks she performed, because she is not a bad actress).

On this night 25 years ago, she was permitted to stretch her wings and do both.

"To live life fully, one should hear the melody the world makes," said the narrator at the end of the episode. "Pity those who stumble through their years without ever hearing the song. The greatest gift we can bestow on those we love is to help them hear it. One life ends, another begins. But the song of life fills the universe, even into the last highest darkened balcony row ... in the Twilight Zone."

Words worth remembering ... and an episode worth seeing.