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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pigeons in the grass, alas

Today is the feast of Saint Anthelm who was bishop of Belley (it’s between Lyons and Aix-les-Bains) in France in the 12th century, and so beloved there that for a brief time the town was called Anthelmopolis.

Belley is the nearest town to Gertrude Stein’s country house (in the tiny village of Bilignan) where she spent long summers from 1929 on, and where Alice B. Toklas cultivated her excellent garden and cooked her excellent meals.

Gertrude Stein wrote the libretto for the opera Four Saints in Three Acts by Virgil Thomson, which has several more than four saints in it (Pigeons in the grass, alas) and more than three acts in it. Saints Settlement, Plot, Chavez and Plan are in it. Saints Teresa I and II are in it. Saint Ignatius is definitely in it.

Saint Anthelm is not in it. Not in Four Saints in Three Acts, he is not in it.

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

Especially interesting given that Stein was Jewish, and that her
safety was a concern during the Nazi occupation of France in WWII. I believe she found some French Mucky-muck who pulled a couple of strings with the Vichy Government so that she and Alice would not be dragged off to the concentration camps.