Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The fifth Warble

Warbles plus one
Above: The Warbles plus one

A few weeks ago, my class attended a wonderful concert from the Musica Viva Performances for Schools Program: the a capella group called "The Song Company". A capella singing has certainly gained some notoriety of recent years, mainly due to those gruelling and telling auditions that "Australian Idol" puts all prospective contestants through (most of whom end up humiliating themselves). Perhaps because of several years of "Idol" on TV, the children were already really atuned to the concept of the performers' voices serving as the only instruments. (And, in after-show question time, the students inevitably asked the singers why they hadn't yet tried out for "Idol".)

According to my students, the highlight of "The Song Company" concert was when the soprano, Nicole, sang her caterpillar song, during which she contemplated her plight of being a lonely garden creature just looking for love - and locked eyes with me (sitting on the sidelines, trying to be extremely nonchalant). To no avail, as it turned out, because she crossed the floor and ended up in my lap being amorous, much to the audience's amusement.

However, today I began wondering is there's a really big target painted on me somewhere. We walked the whole school to A Real Theatre to experience "The Warbles", four classically-trained opera singers who dress in colourful costumes and have stage names which reflect their vocal level (boilersuited ocker, Terry Tenor; passionate woman-in-red, Sylvie Soprano; swashbuckling pirate Barry Baritone; and magical fairy Miffy Mezzo.)

Pirates of Penzance

Playing different characters from various musicals, such as "The Magic Flute", "The Pirates of Penzance" (above), "The Mikado", "Mary Poppins" and "Oliver", the talented Warbles entertained the students for over an hour, I thought I'd managed a very narrow escape when Barry (Jonathan Morton, below) approached me on the aisle, open-armed and looking for his long lost love from "The Magic Flute". I raised my arms in return and he scarpered off to the other side of the theatre, where his birdlike partner had just appeared (to pantomime-type screams of "She's over there! She's over there!" from the audience).

Barry Baritone

But then, only minutes later, Sylvie Soprano (Tania de Jong) was back on stage - this time as the passionate "Carmen", from the opera "Carmen", naturally. With a plastic red rose clenched in her teeth, she rejected her matador lover (Barry again), and selected... me from the audience. The next thing I knew we were down onstage, Miffy had confiscated my glasses - and there I was under the hot lights, dancing up a storm with the woman-in-red. Forget "Australian Idol" - this was now "Dancing with the Stars"!

By audience reactions, I guess I did okay, although I quickly reminded everyone later that on "Dancing with the Stars" the celebrity contestants are at least given a week of rehearsal for each dance. And hey, I embarrass myself, there are work colleagues in the audience with school digital cameras on hand, but noone sneaks off a shot of my three minutes of fame?

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