FEBRUARY 21, 1938
HYDE PARK, N.Y., Sunday—I went with a friend to hear "Lohengrin" yesterday afternoon. It was the first time I had heard Kirsten Flagstad in an opera and I consider it a very great experience. She seems, perfectly unconsciously, to be a great artist.
When she comes before the curtain and does her little curtsy, she is an entirely different person than the one you have just seen and heard as "Elsa," on the stage. That marvelous voice and such great simplicity, little of what might be termed acting, and yet the ability to seem young, to seem majestic; change her into the role she is singing. This is the great artist, who seems to understand all human emotions and to be able to portray them. There is a curious sense of reverence in the contact with something really simple and really great.
In order to make my train to Hyde Park, I had to leave before the end, and so, because I did not want to scramble over people's feet between the two scenes, I stood during the first scene of the last act. I am not fond of standing, and yet, I completely forgot the people around me and my own discomfort and only heard the music.
It was raining lightly when I came out, but I decided to walk to the station. As I picked my way through the crowds and over the puddles, a policeman on Broadway recognized me and escorted me across. His greeting was so cordial and pleasant, I almost forgot it was raining and cheerfully stepped into a puddle, thinking how much more important a pleasant smile is than the state of the weather or the pavement.
I was back in Hyde Park in time for dinner and found a very happy family there. Everyone wished hard that snow might fall and this morning we woke to find a blanket of snow. Now we can all tease my husband and tell him he must be careful about what he wishes for, since this wish came true so rapidly.
It comes over me so often how all of us live from day to day wrapped up in our own little interests and happenings. We really think very little about what the rest of the world goes through.
This morning I looked at the pictures in the paper of Anthony Eden and Neville Chamberlain, and both looked harassed and deeply troubled. It made me realize more vividly the crisis facing so many European nations. Yet, even in those countries, people, like ourselves, go on with their daily lives and probably think as little as we do about what may face them the next day. It is better for us all, I suppose, not to live too much in the future.