Occasionally I volunteer for any of a variety of events in the community, ranging from pulling ivy at the state parks to delivering meals to shut in seniors at Thanksgiving for Meals on Wheels. One group that I have started to work with is the Portland Revels, a group that puts on a variety of pageants and events during the year, culminating with its annual Christmas Revels, a celebration of the Winter Solstice.
I am not working at the Christmas event, but rather at a fund raiser last Friday night that was a Venetian Masked Ball. I have never been to an event like that but have always had a clear image of what I believed them to look like. That image comes exclusively from The Count of Monte Cristo, in which the Count attends one in Rome, and as usual lavishly spends to impress one and all. I have to say that it met my expectations. People had some very elaborate costumes and they had live music that matched the feel of the event. It could have been authentic period music but I do not know.
I am now really looking forward to the Christmas Revels that will run from Dec. 16-22, this year titled Commedia Italiana, set in Renaissance Venice. Each year it has a different theme but a core show. There is a great deal of music, much of it period music along with traditional Mummers play, or at least components. It is a celebration of the end of the longest day of the year and the start of a new year as days grow longer, as well as of the Christmas spirit. After decades of seeing the Nutcracker as my holiday tradition I have come to enjoy this celebration more than the ballet, in part because it is inclusive. You get to sing along on select songs, children are brought on stage and when it ends the cast and crew mingle with the crowd.