Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Paddy O'Pera

Catri and I saw what may well be my last ever O'Pera at the Bennelong Point House of Vaudeville and High Culture last night. Alas, I would say; the end of an era; blah blah nostalgia blah; but truth be told, there's only so much Giuseppe Verdi (that's Joe Green, to you) that a personage of my years can watch without melting into a puddle of schmaltz, or resolving to contract tuberculosis and die, very slowly, singing a full-throated aria in improbable defiance of the parlous condition of her lungs.

(Speaking of death by TB - yes, we were - the more nineteenth-century Ladies of Romance and Loose Virtue I see turning consumptive, the more I start to suspect that someone's been pulling a diagnostic swifty. It's not just Our Nic in Moulin Rouge, or Violetta in La Traviata, or Fantine in Les Misérables, or what's-her-name in that Elizabeth Gaskell novel, but virtually EVERY sympathetically portrayed sex worker in the whole vast canon of nineteenth-century letters, who dies of tuberculosis. One can't help having one's suspicions. A commentator more cynical than I may even be moved to suggest consumption as a romantic euphemism for syphilis, but then, it's hard to see how the slow spongification of the lungs could come to be a euphemism for anything.)

Regardless, I dropped a tear on the Bennelong Point House of Vaudeville and High Culture's parquetry, chucked its westernmost sail under the chin, and then got down to the serious business of Spotting Opera-Going B-grade Celebrities. At this point, Catri and I parted deductive ways: I was convinced that the chap sitting four rows in front of us who looked like Geoffrey Rush was Geoffrey Rush; Catri insisted, politely but firmly, that the chap sitting four rows in front of us who looked like Geoffrey Rush was not Geoffrey Rush. Whether this Geoffrey Rush was THE Geoffrey Rush or just a shameless Geoffrey Rush imitator, there was no way I was going to pass up an opportunity to be talent scouted. So I spent the better part of the night ignoring the dying courtesan with the wobbling ... vibrato ... and doing my best to look thespian and alluring.

I'm expecting a call from my agent any minute.

3 comments:

St John Nottlesby said...

You're wasting your time, Doctor! Not only do no Australian "celebs" or A, B, C ... F or even Z grade go to an opera, very few even know that we HAVE an opera house (except, perhaps, in its capacity to host Australian Idle Grand Finales on the steps of).

It has been my grim experience in that Great Danish Music-Hall, that the accoustic is appalling, which serves but one purpose - the welcome fuzzing of the otherwise-average musicians (my apologies to any readers of these pages who may scrape the catgut for a living in Goossens' Temple).

Save your guineas, I say! (Not least to defray the cost of your next 6am flight.) And do be sure to report to us on the State of the Arts in fair Melbourne.

alexis said...

Such cynicism in one so young! The place is positively riddled with the rich and famous. You just need to adjust your definitions a tad. In my various celebrity-seeking peregrinations around la maison d'opera, I have spotted: one Bob Hawke (& bonus paramour), one Bronwyn Bishop (& hair), one Geoffrey Rush (or not), numerous ushers, posh and precarious-about-the-bosom frocks, underwhelming canapes on trays, Bob Carr's secret boyfriend, and a tuba player. What the SOH lacks in decent acoustics, it makes up in worthy contenders for the Daily Telegraph's society page.

(You rest your case.)

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