(Family) relations. Story #3: 'The Quartet in the opera Rigoletto'
I make the time necessary in order to process!


The 'quartet' in the opera Rigoletto

During the winter of 1950/1951 John and I went to dancing classes. I was 15, my brother 18 years old and mother had decided that we should have dancing lessons. Father had died four years earlier and the other two members of our family play no part in this story. Why we should have dancing lessons I do not know, I presume mother considered it part of his and my education. John was not a very easygoing person who would go by himself, he was rather shy at the time. Dancing class included falling in love for the first time, my first carnival-party and my first ball. Anyway, this was the year in which my 'society life' began.

I am not sure whether my father, whom I missed badly, liked opera or not. I believe he did. He called opera singers, mockingly, "window howlers" (father was rather sober and enjoyed mocking drama and romanticism). Both father and mother loved going out. Mother loved the theater, music and opera, but later she often was unable to go even when she had tickets for a performance in 'Concordia'. Whenever she could go to the theater, she used - after my father's death and after he had grown a little older - to go with my brother. When she herself could not go I could have her ticket and go with my brother.
Thus I began my society life with dancing lessons and had my first opera experience a little later.

That first opera was Rigoletto (Giuseppe Verdi, 1851). We did have a program with the texts, but what can you do with Italian lines whilst there is so much to see and to hear and to digest and our knowledge of Italian at best existed of a few words from popular Neapolitan songs. 'Mamma mia.' In short: I didn't understand much of what was going on, especially in the acts before the interval. During the break we went looking for better seats as the view from our places was very poor, we sat at the right side of the balcony very close to the stage. We also bought a glass of lemonade (which had been manufactured in our own lemonade factory led by mother). And then we had an opportunity to take a quick look at the program and the text, which made a bit of a difference.


The story of the opera: the hunchbacked Rigoletto serves the Duke of Mantua as his jester. With his sharp tongue he fights everyone, even the Duke, who is notorious for his seductive behaviour with women. At the same time he supports him. The Duke has seen a young girl who must be his next conquest. It turns out to be Rigoletto's daughter which has always been kept carefully concealed. Gilda is abducted and seduced. Rigoletto shows her why she can't trust the Duke and hires, in his powerlessness, an assassin. Gilda consciously gives her life to save the Duke's.

From the part after the interval I remember two scenes in particular. The last, of course, with the 'corpse' in a bag that sang on before she actually died. But the most fascinating scene for the opera as well as, in this case, the most important for me, was the 'quartet'. Halfway at the left side of the stage, on a sort of loggia, stood the womanizer with his sweetheart. In the front, a bit to the right of the center, the revengeful Rigoletto. Behind a little wooden bush, at the right, his daughter Gilda, betrayed by her loved one. These four people, each involved in their totally distinct affairs, all sang different texts simultaneously which harmonized unbelievably beautifully into the quartet "Bella figlia del' amore". I have seen several operas since and my knowledge of Italian has expanded a little, but especially this scene I remember very clearly. At that time I did not realize that it held such importance for me that I would remember so many details.

Parallels with the family situation

Looking back at the situation in the story and my position in our family at that time, I note a strange similarity. In retrospect I interpret my situation as equally incomprehensible as I thought it to be for Gilda. Trusting, romantic and as naive as a child, she lacks the experience of life to be able to protect herself and is still greatly dependent on her father who is unable to protect her.
Rigoletto, both a father and a mother for Gilda, has always kept her safe and concealed from the dangerous world and is out of his mind with rage at the discovery of his secret.
The Duke of Mantua, the spoilt ruler, conqueror and profiteer, kidnaps and seduces her. I am inclined to look at both the Duke and Rigoletto as men of power and the revenge of Rigoletto as a power-reaction to powerlessness.
Maddalena, the "Bella figlia del' amore", the pretty girl of love, the duke's love, who sees through the sweet words and knows what they are worth.

My own story, like the opera, has four performers: both mother and brother John interchangeably exerting their own and the father role, my absent father, and myself in a tangled and lonely situation. Father had died when I was eleven years old and mother had to take over his role. At that time I was very angry at mother and we made eachother's life a misery. John was given premature power as a fatherly authority without having experience as such and I resisted him fiercely when he got too bossy and extremely forceful. I experienced mother and John as if they formed a block against me when they made decisions for me without talking them over with me first. The comparison with the quartet, the four people in the opera Rigoletto, does of course not hold water on all levels. The resemblance has to do, as I sense it, with the situation: four people who did not all play unambiguous roles. At that time I did not understand in the least how father could have died so calmly and seemingly without resistance and leave me alone with mother. I usually longed in vain for her sympathy and felt very much let down. With this drama on the stage my spiritual horizon started to broaden a little.


How do I deal with these things now? I make the time necessary in order to process!

Last time, in Zine #7, I have dealt with the place of the combination of elements in the opposition of the Sun with Pluto, which is inseperably connected with the Moon, in my pattern of beginning. The question arose of whether more capacities were involved with this combination. This time we ask ourselves: 'With which other planets do these have dynamic connections?' and 'What place do these planets take within my pattern of beginning?'.

The above story indeed adds new subjects to the material of the previous stories. What all this seems to be about this time is

  1. experiencing authority and responsibility emotionally,
  2. needing insight into and processing of experiences,
  3. being angry and resisting against coercion and power,
  4. and needing closeness by exchanging experiences.

The story in review

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Concise descriptions relevant to the story

Terms and symbols
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Leading from this story I shall take a look at the other resources that I have at my disposal, in so far as they are directly involved with the conjunction and the opposition I described earlier.


As the Sun is situated in Capricorn and the planet Saturn has a special relationship with this sign, Saturn is important in my birth chart. He plays a decisive role especially in determining time but also in emotional and social matters.

fig.1: Rini Sips
Click for the full birthchart
  1. The capacity to handle authority and to be responsible is, coloured by social acceptance, active in the field of emotional security, in the family circle. 'I am afraid of being shut out', 'I feel fundamentally not safe or secure as long as there is no equality, if my emotions are not respected'.
    The closeness which people with this pattern of beginning look for from the very start has been described in Zine #5 as: 'The exceptional gives me protection. I cannot feel safe or secure without equality, or if I am not accepted with my uniqueness. I exceed boundaries in my undertakings. My enterprise is exceptional. Whatever I undertake is original;
    And it will eventually lead to a solution, it will be transient. The experience of unity will finally give me security'
  2. While the Sun, symbol of the father, in the third phase 'has gone away a little', the perspective moves via Saturn, responsibility, towards the 4th phase 'towards mother at home'. A shift of responsibility and of the father role.
  3. Mother's authority could not be avoided.
  4. See below.
  1. The planet SATURN, in the 4th phase and AQUARIUS, makes aspects
  2. with the SUN in the sign of CAPRICORN in the 3rd phase, halfsext connected;
  3. with PLUTO and the MOON in CANCER in the 9th phase, inconjunct connected;
  4. and also with Uranus in Aries in the 6th phase, in sextile connected.
  1. The need or the capacity to have insight in how mechanisms (social/ cultural/ civilization/ fashion/ law/ conventions/ educational/ technical/ electronical) work in practice.
    The work people with this pattern of beginning want from the start has been described in Zine #5 as: 'I work in a practical manner, I work hard. I prefer work in which I can develop my own initiatives. I like to work alone, I do not want to be hampered in my work by too many limitations;
    My final condition is that I can determine by myself whether I'll complete my work. In that case I'll certainly finish it'
  2. The two squares at the opposition form a 'high-tension' motor towards gaining insight by analysing the matter: 'I try again and again the practical application of possibilities', 'My senses provide me with insight in how things work', in other words: typically a do-it-yourselfer. The training as a book critic, my experience in that field and interest in the working of the psyche have reached fruition in the long run [ note ].
  3. Afraid that something cannot be realized? If I am aware of the importance of it I shall constantly try new ways to make it work.
  1. The planet URANUS, in the 6th phase in ARIES, makes aspects with
  2. the Sun in Capricorn in the 3rd phase, in square connected,
    and with Pluto in Cancer in the 9th phase, in square connected;
  3. with Saturn in Aquarius in the 4th phase, in sextile connected.
  1. My capacity to put energy and anger in processing all things possible in the background in order to be able to let go of them.
    The solution which people with this pattern of beginning are looking for from the start has been described in Zine #5 as: 'I finish my affairs in a harmonious manner. I let go in an attitude of resignation. I seek diplomatic solutions. Before I can give up I always look for another road, for an alternative;
    But finally I'll let go in a concise and practical manner. This solution has to be possible from the start'
  2. Here I have the disposal of an alternative source of energy or of making problems. Or is it a need to put energy in problem solving? In all cases problems have to be made before they can be solved. 'In the background or in the evening I let off steam and let go of blocked reactions of emotions';
  3. Familiar or irritated, these are friendly and empathic capacities;
  4. A gentle, more or less relaxing capacity, which can make one suppose that being nice and giving in are bound to lead to the right result. I like to watch drama and expression such as in opera.
  1. MARS, in the 12th phase and LIBRA, makes aspects with
  2. the Moon in Cancer in the 9th phase square connected;
  3. with Jupiter in Scorpio in the 1st phase, halfsext connected and with NEPTUNE in VIRGO in the 11th phase, halfsext connected;
  4. and also with VENUS (primary) in AQUARIUS in the 4th phase, in triangle connected.
  1. My need to develop and capacity to recover is available directly from the start, when searching for the essence of things. 'Every morning is again a new story', 'I always start with enthusiasm if I have a pithy goal', 'I have an absolute belief in my senses'.
    The way in which people with this pattern of beginning start has been described in Zine #5 as: 'At the start I concentrate on the heart of the matter. First of all I brush aside everything that is irrelevant. If I cannot grasp the heart of the matter then I do not begin. I relish beginning;
    On condition that I can also believe in it, that taking the initiative will be worth my while. I can only begin if there are also possibilities for growth'.
  2. 'It is self-evident that I very much love the relaxation of an intens dramatic and musical representation of a good story. That is why opera relaxes me'.
  3. Familiar or irritated: 'Is it appropriate to either let it out or let it pass with enthusiasm?'.
  4. 'Do I fit in, with my possibilities and needs, with the needs and possibilities of this environment? An activating and stimulating tool, when time is ripe for it.
  1. JUPITER, in the 1st phase and SCORPIO, makes aspects
  2. with Pluto and with the Moon in Cancer in the 9th phase, in triangle connected;
  3. with Mars in Libra in the 12th phase, halfsext connected;
  4. and with Neptune in Virgo in the 11th phase, in sextile connected.

Are these all the pieces of the puzzle?

You wonder perhaps when the capacities of communication and the acquisition of knowledge will be brought up. We have treated the more direct aspects of planets with the opposition between the Sun and Pluto and with the Moon. The only planet which was not directly involved with all this is Mercury. This planet of communications and trade is in conjunction connected with Venus and thus both are in a square connected with the Ascendant. This subject will certainly come up for discussion at some other occasion.