Born on The 4th of July

4th of July Birthday Girl's Breakfast! -
4th of July Birthday Girl Anjelica’s Breakfast! –

By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi

Twenty-two years ago today, at 6:30 a.m., my daughter burst forth upon the world on a hot and humid morning.  Having gone into labor the night of July 2nd, I assumed within a few hours she would be cuddling with me.  How wrong I was. Throughout the hours of waiting, various rounds of nurses offered me upbeat conversation, ice chips, popsicles, and later, saltines.  24 hours into this labor, I could have used a hit of protein since my last meal, pasta with pesto, had seemed in the mists of time.  Finally, the doctor who would deliver Anjelica offered me six hours of induced sleep because “I need you to push when the time comes.”

I had lost track of time.  The nurses and doctor roused me from my somnambulistic state, and informed me, “It’s show time!” 10 minutes later, Anjelica descended into the world.  She was pink and perfect, with scads of dark hair.  All of those pre-natal vitamins, breakfasts of cream of wheat, the purge of my daily glass of vino, coffee and all other caffeine-related beverages from my diet paid off, for she was perfectly formed, gorgeous, and totally worth it and more.

It was, a nurse excitedly told me, the 4th of July.

My half-Greek, half-Italian daughter was a Yankee-Doodle baby?  My family was thrilled, for Anjelica was an immigrant’s dream:  Born on the 4th of July.  That night as she lay sleeping in my arms, I watched the fireworks on the river through the large picture window in my maternity ward room.  Throughout the noise, glitter, and wonder of that fireworks show, Anjelica snoozed away.

On her first 4th of July she may have dozed, but thereafter, we celebrated her birthday big time, always concluding with the professional fireworks event on the river.  Last year we celebrated her 21st birthday at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, and with Cirque du Soleil’s ‘O’ show.  This year’s 4th of July birthday is lower-keyed, but will still include fireworks tonight.  Like the fireworks, Anjelica herself lights up my world.  Happy Birthday to my darling daughter!

Ciao for now.


Viva Las Vegas, Part V: O, The Shows!

Bellagio carousel in the Botanical Gardens –

In addition to celebrating my daughter’s 21st birthday, a primary reason for our journey to Las Vegas was the anticipated rapture of a Celine Dion concert.  While I admit to listening to some of her music, I would not necessarily have traveled half way across the country for a pop-star concert.  Nonetheless, my daughter thrilled at the thought of her idol performing live at The Coliseum in Caesar’s Palace.

The Forum Shops, Caesar’s Palace –

After a delicious dinner at Bellagio’s Circo, we took a cab over to The Coliseum.  Our center-stage seats boded well for viewing Celine Dion and her 31-piece orchestra.  I suspected the concert would be good, but I could not have envisioned how good.  The variety of music [Celine scats!], the musicians [particularly the cellos medley of Michael Jackson songs], Celine’s gowns, the lighting, but mostly, her soaring voice accompanied by the sonorous sounds of those 31 musicians.

Bellagio mosaic tile floor –

Cirque du Soleil O, Bellagio’s in-house attraction, was astounding.   One’s senses cannot resist O’s ethereal experience.  O is performed primarily in water, with Cirque’s amazing performers’ synchronized swimming, high diving, aerial acrobats artists performing without safety nets.  The effect is spellbinding.  The fire-twirlers and the clowns on their leaky houseboat mesmerized us.  Singers and rhythm musicians added to the otherworldly aura of Cirque du Soleil O.  A Punchinello-like artist played a ghostly song on a grand piano while his female companion draped herself over the piano’s side.  As we watched, the floor parted and slowly the artists and piano disappeared under the water.

The stage itself was an integral element in O’s performance. Sometimes a floor gradually covered the water to create a “land” configuration.  Out of the depths of the water appeared artists engaged in synchronized ballet.  Three high divers took breath-taking dives simultaneously into the pool from the high top.

For me, the two aerial performers enthralled with their artistry.  One held on to both sides of the trapeze while holding under her feet the head and the lower torso of the other artist lying horizontally across her feet.  They held this position not just for a few moments; rather they lingered, gazing at one another, balancing lyrically as the music played until dissolving their positions.  The denouement occurred when another solo aerial artist balanced on her head waving her legs in a sort of deconstructed dance in the air as the trapeze swung to and fro.

The Fountains of Bellagio –

As we filed out of the Cirque du Soleil O theater, we agreed that after witnessing the artistry and athleticism of Cirque’s poetry in motion O show, the performers demonstrated Olympian feats in a mystical show.  Like Celine Dion, the O performers are in a class by themselves.

Ciao for now.