Aria da Capo
By, Edna St. Vincent Millay
I have always been a reading fan of Edna St. Vincent Millay. As a little girl my grandfather, John Salser would read me her poetry. Renascence was my personal favorite. I came across this play rather by accident as I was looking for one of her poetry collections. I enjoyed this one act play and was intrigued with the title, Aria Da Capo. While researching a bit more about the play, I learned that "Da capo" means "from the head" or "from the beginning" and "Aria Da Capo" is a note for note repeat of the aria at the beginning of a variation. A play that repeats itself yet gives thought! I immediately downloaded the free e-book from Amazon.com. The play was performed with Provincetown Players in 1919-1920. Millay directed the play, casting her sister Norma as Columbine and her friend Harrison Dowd as Pierrot.
The play opens with a festive dinner between two lovers. There is a bit of banter back and forth between Pierrot and Columbine. This is where the author brings in a bit of comedy that turns to parody. Columbine for example states, “Pierrot, a macaroon! I cannot live without a macaroon!" What is comedic is that Columbine is basically helpless and stupid to the point that Pierrot is rather teasing/mocking her with her need of constant exotic fruits and treats. Moreover, Pierrot is so self-absorbed and indifferent to create change that the whole conversation comes off as comical and strange. The author skillfully uses this dialog as a satirical imitation to the current issues in society. It is important to note that during this time period many aggressive campaigns for food conservation were being voiced. Many were just ignorant much like Columbine or indifferent like Pierrot to the danger of abundance and not focusing on what really matters. It is at this point, when Cothurgus interrupts the act and demands that his scene start. This too is prevalent in societal behavior today. How many times, have you heard, it is about “Me” or “The Me Party?”
Thrysis and Corydon, then begin a game where two shepherds build a wall but soon turns to murder. Aria da Capo is a satirical play of war. Furthermore, as the title of the play suggests, people and nations are led into thoughtless repetition and, committing the same atrocities over and over again leading to a brilliant ending. I did enjoy this work by Edna St. Vincent Millay but it was not a play that I would gush over. The pace was fast and brought about thought to many current situations that our nations are experiencing. It would be a great play to discuss in a high school or University.