The Nightingale and the Rose

Though this lovely story was not literally written by a friend, it is because of my “rose of a friend” Laura that it is here. She took me to the ballet this past Sunday, in wonderful orchestra seats, and one of the pieces performed by NYC Ballet was one choreographed recently by Christopher Wheeldon, based on the short story by Oscar Wilde. It is a moving, loving, romantic piece that I advise everyone who reads this to try and catch, even if it involves a trip up to Saratoga, NY for the company’s summer season there. Following is a synopsis inspired by the flyer included in the Playbill.

“A Nightingale sings of love, nestled in an holm-oak tree. A young woman, the Professor’s Daughter, arrives near the tree, followed by a young and passionate Student. He has been pestering her for a dance, but she refuses unless he presents her with a red rose. He looks around but there aren’t any in the garden. The Nightingales offers to help the Student and begins looking for a red rose. She flies around the garden and finds two rose bushes, but those two plants only offer white and yellow roses. Then, on the opposite side of the garden, she finds a withered and dried up Rose-tree.
“I have red roses but am too tired from a long winter which has frozen my veins and therefore I will have no roses this year.” Says the Rose-tree.
“All I need is one! Isn’t there any way you can give me one red rose?” Cries out the Nightingale.
“I will give you a red rose, but you must build it out of your own music by moonlight and stain it with blood from your heart. You must sing while one of my thorns pierces your breast, so that your blood will become mine.” States the Rose-tree.
The Nightingale finds death a high price to pay for a rose, but then remembers that she believes in Love so much that despite her fears, she pushes her breast against a thorn and begins to sing. She sings all night, while her blood slowly drains from her little body.
Because of her beautiful yet tragic song, even the Moon forgets the dawn and lingers on in the sky.
When the Nightingale has sung her last song, the Student plucks the red rose and gives it to the Professor’s Daughter. She gives it one smell and finds its aroma not pleasing, hence throwing it to the ground. In his hurry to run after her, the Student steps over the rose and crushes it.
He picks up the rose and thinks “It is a shame, but it is only a rose and love is foolish after all”, stepping over the lifeless body of the little Nightingale.”

Adapted from a short story by Oscar Wilde

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