The Liberty Gazette
July 19, 2016Ely Air Lines
by Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Linda: Usually this space is filled with purely aviation stories, but every once in awhile we reach beyond for an interesting connection to aviation. The arts is one area rich with aviation references, in song, poetry, and story, in movies, stage, radio, and television, in games, and in dance. Often the characters featured are the most well-known, such as Charles Lindbergh and Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger.
The opera, Amelia, is one of many projects inspired by the famed aviatrix. The official synopsis from the website of Daron Hagen, the opera’s writer, says, “A first time mother-to-be, whose psyche has been scarred by the loss of her pilot-father in Vietnam, must break free from anxiety to embrace healing and renewal for the sake of her husband and child in this original story unfolding over a 30-year period beginning in 1966. Amelia interweaves one woman's emotional journey, the American experience in Vietnam, and elements of the Daedalus and Icarus myth to explore man's fascination with flight and the dilemmas that arise when vehicles of flight are used for exploration, adventure, and war. With an intensely personal libretto by American poet Gardner McFall, whose father was a Navy pilot lost during Vietnam, this new American opera moves from loss to recuperation, paralysis to flight, as the protagonist, Amelia, ultimately embraces her life and the creative force of love and family.”
It’s a fabulous, precious opera, even for non-opera fans. We saw it nearly five years ago and were honored to meet Mr. Hagen and Ms. McFall in a pre-performance meet and greet, which made the show that much more enjoyable. I’d recommend seeing it - it’s empowering and touching.
Then just a few days ago I received a promotional email from another pair - an acrobatic ballerina and her publicist.
Cryzta Bobbe, stage name Crystalle, is an aerial dancer - a gifted gymnast and ballerina who literally ran off to join the circus at her German parents’ dismay. They equated circus life with beggars, but somehow, something about an early female pilot has touched Crystalle so deeply that she was moved to create a very acrobatic dance performance as a tribute to her. She performs Adagio for Amelia donning vintage helmet and goggles, as well as a flowing dance called Winged. And yes, she dances on a high wire, too.
Now I have these burning questions: what is it about aviation that draws an elegant, gifted dancer to create such an inspiring, beautiful performance? What is it about flying that she loves?
At the same time I am reminded of the story of Rosie the Riveter. The daughter of the real Rosie lives in Conroe and is a pilot and good friend of mine. The likeness of a later Rosie shows up in newer posters, but that lady was actually a pianist and wanted nothing to do with continued riveting in the factory, because of the risk to her fingers, and her career. My friend’s mother, whose name really was Rose, and who really did make B-24s in the Willow Run bomber factory in Ypsilanti, Michigan, wasn't too concerned with piano, but had a riveting career nonetheless.
One last musing about aviation and the arts. Gearing up for the next race I decided to get gussied up a little more than usual. I had my fingernails painted to match the dominant red on the Elyminator, and my toenails in black and white checkered flag motif to match the design on our tail and wingtips. Maybe it’ll help us win.