Thursday, March 29, 2007

Opera: The New Spectator Sport

The lights dim. It’s nearly pitch dark inside a giant, cavernous space filled with thousands of people waiting in great anticipation. Loud rhythmical music pulsates throughout the space and renders the crowd with palpitory excitement. Women begin to swoon. Men tense and sweat with wide eyed alacrity. All eyes are focused on one point in the giant hall, and when the moment arrives where their heroes are revealed and illuminated the expansive room erupts with an amplitude of cheers and applause.

Sound like the NBA basketball playoff introductions? Nope. A rock concert? Uh-uh. This, my loyal evil readers, is the experience of the local opera scene in Portland.

On a weeknight evening the Portland Opera production of The Flying Dutchman witness an unheralded and unprecedented audience reception. From the moment the curtain opened, revealing the entire cast in rock concert lighting on a raked and off-balanced stage we felt like we were doing an NBA playoff game in front of the 3,000 pairs of eyes before us. Spontaneous shouts, applause, and even a fist in the air “Woo Woo Woo” ala Arsenio Hall greeted us as the overture completed and we started singing.

What went through the minds of the conservative, penguin suited, rhinestone wearing typical opera goer? I wonder…

“Lovey, did that man just say, ‘woo woo woo’?”

“Yes, Thurston. It’s the new rage with all the modern opera audiences.” (thrusts fist in the air) “Woo! Woo! Woo!”

I believe we’re on to something here. What if we made opera the new spectator sport, complete with commentary from the booth. Let’s go there now:

“Well, Phil, it looks like the crowd is prepared for some hot entertainment tonight!”

“Sure does, Bill. Look at ‘em go wild with the new modern lighting! They’re even starting a spontaneous wave in the orchestra section. Let’s go now down to Jill who’s with the head stage director:”

“Thanks Phil. I’m here with Guillermo Nobilo who is watching from off stage left tonight. Tell us, Guillermo, what should we expect tonight?”

“Vell, Jeell, I’m pleeeased viz ze whole outcome. All ze zingers gave 110% een practeece. Zey are READY!”

“That’s the word from backstage. Back to you Phil.”

“Thanks, Jill. Bill, the tenor has been spending extra hours in the practice room this week trying to polish and caress that high ‘C’. It should be an exiting night if he can hold it this evening.”

“That’s right Phil. We’re coming up to the end of his aria now. Let’s see if he can nail it.”

“Ooooo!! Bill, that was just a hair under pitch and he hooked that one big time.”

“Yes he did, Phil. You can tell he’s a little fatigued this evening and he didn’t quite reach the top.”

"Looks like it'll be more time in the practice room for the next few days, Bill."

Hey, it happens for golf! Why not opera?

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Enjoy the Opera! Personal Lubricant Provided.

I’ll come right out and say it. Let the jokes, laughter, chuckles, guffaws, hee hawing, whatever begin.

The head wigmistress of the opera has decreed that K-Y Personal Lubricant is the official hair gel of our production of Flying Dutchman.

Hair gel.



No wigs will be worn for the production. However the gentlemen, ALL gentlemen, will be given a dollop of K-Y jelly, and the hair will be combed in the style of the period of the opera, set in the 1920’s.

Why K-Y? Here’s my own marketing reasons:

“It Provides Maximum Stiffness and Hold”
“It’s Viscous and Slick”
“Provides Power Hold & Shine”
“It’s Smooth, Silky and Glistens like Fresh Snow”
“Too dry? Just add more water!”

I am told the official reason is that adds a nice glistening effect. And since it’s water based the washing process is easier. It also doesn’t flake like regular hair gel.

I’m told the story by the poor sucker, who wanted to remain nameless so we’ll call her Betty, (there, Bev, I saved your anonymity!) who drew the short straw and had to make the purchase of about a case worth of personal lubricant from the drug store. In addition, items such as medical sticky tape, hair pins, and makeup needed to be purchased. “Betty” does not look the type to purchase a stockpile of naughty or deviant goodies. So naturally the pharmacist gave her an odd blank stare and an, “excuse me?” when she inquired to the whereabouts of said items.

“I asked where you stock the K-Y.”

“The what, ma’am?”

“The K-Y jelly.”

I imagine the elderly, conservative pharmacists scratching his graying and almost bald, bare head. “I’m not sure I understand…”


So Betty ended up exclaiming her secret mission to everyone in the store and followed behind Mr. Pharmacist to collect all the items on her list. She admitted later to us the fact that she shopped in a drug store on the other side of town from her house. The curious pharmacist was much relieved when Betty felt she had to explain the reason behind her seemingly deviant purchases.

Good thing he didn’t talk her into purchasing K-Y Warming Liquid Gel which would have provided a nice gentle warming sensation on contact. Talk about hot sailors!

Never a dull moment in opera.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

The Hairy Truth

Since my years have morphed from the low-thirtysomethings to the high-thirtysomethings I have discovered a hygienic secret closely guarded by all males who have made this rite of passage. A tedious ritual grooming chore one must perform daily lest we be outcast from civilized society and banished to the Island of Unsightly Men.


Why was I not informed or prepared for this additional required routine maintenance? Eh? Why was this such a secret? I swear every other morning I find a shrub growing inside my nostrils. And where one day my ears are perfectly squeaky clean and wax-free, the next I’ll find a three inch long hair that somehow sprung overnight?

This debilitation has struck me like I remember being stricken by puberty. I thought I was the only one afflicted with a sudden onslaught of hair. Like a junior high boy in the locker room, I have only discovered that all my buddies the same age are having the identical issue. It’s funny to watch the older men of the opera chorus snicker and chuckle at the thirty-somethings swapping accounts of trimming the hedges and sharing plucking techniques. THAT’S why they didn’t tell us to be ready for the new hair growth. It’s all a big joke to them, like we’ve been initiated into the brotherhood of older hairy men.

Well, I’m not one to break tradition! The secret’s safe with me! You twenty-somethings don’t know what’s in store for you in about a decade. And I’m not gonna tell ya! Ha! HA HA! Muahahahahahahaha!!!!!

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

STOMP! - the Opera

This Evil Baritone just flipped another calendar year, celebrating my 29th birthday for the 8th straight year. (You do the math) But EB is jumping, stomping, and creating general mayhem on the rehearsal stage like he’s a sprightly 24 yr old.

“What does he think he’s doing!? Certainly no Earthly good will come of his false pretense of athletic ability! I shall smite him for his reckless behavior!” ~ EB’s knees

The above is a direct quote from my knees and ankles overheard in our most recent rehearsal of Flying Dutchman. I am renaming this Wagnarian masterpiece, STOMP! ~ The Opera. Those of you who may be privy to that entertaining piece of theatre whereby a dozen or so 20-somethings show their athletic prowess by “stomping” rhythmical tunes using anything from tin garbage cans (and the garbage inside them) to brooms and sinks full of water, will understand. The avant-garde stage director for our Flying Dutchman has decided it would be keen if all 30 of the chorus sailor men, during the Steuerman Chorus vs. the Ghost Chorus scene, would all jump, stomp, hit, thrash, smash, and cause widespread chaos onstage for this little 5 minute interval. I (foolishly) volunteered to leap from atop tables, bounding over chairs, and stomp the set like I’m waking the devil.

I’m sure you can imagine that this sort of chaotic scene does not get blocked once and forgotten until final dress. The first few scene rehearsals were great! I felt a healthy glow of perspiration and a sense that I was in much better shape than my fellow, uh, ahem, “more experienced” chorus men. Besides, I am a professional on stage. I give 110% in rehearsal and performance. By the end of the 6th time through the scene my perspiration had gushed into a flood of hot, salty sweat, drenching my rehearsal gear and making me wish I had volunteered to sing in the Ghost Chorus offstage. (Jo ho ho hoe!)

Well, I managed to stumble through the end of rehearsal, and I’ve been on a steady diet of Ibuprofen and regular intervals of ice packs ever since. I encourage you if you’re in the Portland area to catch this production. The principals are fabulous, especially our Dutchman, Richard Paul Fink, a mighty fine dramatic baritone. This ain’t your grandmother’s “Park & Bark” opera…it’s intense!

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Saturday, March 03, 2007

I Want to Rock & Roll All Night...

Time for another installment of...


"Those guys are wrong. My mamma DOES dance and my daddy DOES rock & roll."

Rock on little Goonie.

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