Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Maestro Mimi and The Sins Of The Soprano



Did I mention that once during a classical music performance, my college professor's Mollard baton flew out of his hand and into the audience? Did I mention that same said professor once stumbled off the black boxed conductor's stand - he fell off - climbed back on unceremoniously and kept conducting without missing a beat?
Did I mention that every time you tell a story like this, giggling over the fumbles of someone else, the same thing usually ends up happening to YOU?

It's called Karma.
And sometimes it comes back to bite you in the baton.


Rewind: I thought I'd paid my karma dues when a sassy and beautiful soprano friend of mine and Yours Truly found ourselves trapped in the bathroom during an intermission primp session and MISSED our cue entirely. It wouldn't have been so catastrophic if said sopranos hadn't had the solos. There we were in all our evening gown regalia (sans my crown, of course) entertaining a room full of Chicken-Cordon-Bleu-fed socialites and honest-to-goodness beautiful (and rich) men in tuxedos when we decided it would be best to powder our noses between sets.


"Is that music I hear?" she asked.


"No, of course not," I replied, as I rearranged my lip liner for the fourth time. "The Mozart isn't until after the Puccini and we're not in that quartet. And anyway....we have plenty of....of.....OH MY GOD! He's conducting the Mozart."


I felt my music degree slip through my fingers with every stroke of the lip brush.

This could not be happening.

We both flew to the door handle at the same time. She had neglected to dry her hands before doing so. Slipping. Sliding. Cursing in Italian.

"Shit," said the girl from the Bronx. "He's going to kill us."

"No" (I was blubbering by this point) "He's going to kill ME. He's already mad at me because I disrupted rehearsal the other day for killing the spider (a story for another day........)

"We all know that's why he gave you the lead in Suor Angelica and me the ditsy nun's part in the spring opera. (I was "Lay Sister" ....yeah I know...) It's common music school knowledge by now. Mimi, the ditsy soprano. And now this!"

"Mimi, you got the ditsy nun part because you're ditsy. Period. Lay Sister was always late to chapel and falling to her knees begging forgiveness for letting the cross touch the floor and scampering away from Mother Superior like a 14th century Lucille Ball. Admit it. You were perfect for the part."

"Just because she was always in trouble does not mean I find myself in these situations in real life ya know......I really resent the comparison and furthermore....!"

I looked around at the sink, the doorknob and the snarling diva with wet hands.
Maybe she had a point.
Puccini would not have been amused.
Neither was she.

"Maybe we should stay in here," said the now tardy soprano ditz with the sexual sounding nun's name. "We could tell him one of us got sick and the other one had to help."


She looked at me with an I-wish-I'd-never-met-you glance and continued to pull on the door latch.
It was just stuck.


"Well," she fumed, "we can't walk into that room in the middle of the piece and take our places in the choir. We'll just have to wait until it's over and pray somebody sings our part. Maybe he won't notice it's not us."



"I don't think he's going to forget he cued a missing soprano, Smarty Pants," I said. "We're in deep doo-doo."

About that time we heard soprano-in-waiting-her-turn-to-be-famous come in and sing our parts. Lord. She must have been paying attention in class or either she was the one who locked us in here. Stranger things have happened let me tell ya between sopranos.
That diva thing is wicked.

She sang (and disgustingly well I might add). We plotted an excuse, Mozart finally died, and we re-entered the room. Applause.

Alas. It wasn't for us.

You don't want to know what our dear Maestro said with his smokin' dart-throwing eyes.
It's just not repeatable - in any language.

But how did this particular soprano sin come back to bite me?

Fast Forward to last year's Christmas season: I was heading out the door to conduct a concert of my own, snapping pictures in the mirror for the blog and trying to look nauseatingly mysterious. (It's a gift) With music degree miraculously in hand (whew!) I conducted my own umpteenth choir concert this week. One of the soloists was nervous from the get-go and asked to borrow my music at the last minute - ten minutes before curtain - and I must have nodded in her direction and unknowingly gave away my only copy of the score. Then I got distracted by a last minute technical question, a queasy baritone who wanted to throw up, and a hasty scramble into the bottom of my purse to turn off my cellphone. (Are you beginning to understand now why I got the ditz nun part ???)


Lights down. Audience mumbles cease. I start the concert. I make my speech. I tralala-traipse my prissy black balloon pants across the stage klack klack klackety heels and sparkling earrings ...you know, the important stuff.....camera flashes, smiling singers. I bow. I sit. I give pitches. I play. We sing. They applaud. I bow. I turn for the second song. I lift the baton. I look down at the music stand.



Where is the music?

I suddenly remembered that awful locked-bathroom-door-feeling.


WHO took my music? Where IS the music? Where is Susie soprano? And what has she done with my only copy of the Bach? He was not amused either. See?


Have you ever had to conduct a piece of music from memory in front of God and everybody? Well, neither have I.


Until last night.


You know, I've always loved the exhilarating feeling of a live performance.


Until last night.


You never know what might happen. It's not always musical but it's always interesting. Ahh....the thrill of unpredictable endorphin laden musicality. I love it.


Until last night.

Thank God I have a semi-photographic memory. And the piece was a cappella. All I had to do was remember the opening pitches and go from there. The baton flew. They sang. Soprano survived. Queen bowed once again. And as irritated as I was that they didn't bow back, this was no time for a royalty lecture. Exhausted.
Curls deflated. Powder pale. Nails quivering in the wind. Time to sit for a minute.

Rearrange the music. Re-group. Relax. Call my mother. Have a cappuccino. What are they gonna do? Go home? I had a captive (and confused) audience. I made some lame joke about "looking for Santa Claus" and took a thirty-second siesta.


I sat down on the piano bench to collect my thoughts for a second.




It cracked.

Yes, the bench made a cracking sound. Right in front of God and everybody. My back was to the audience. The singers in front of me. My face was red. My balloons deflated. And a ripple of giggling patrons behind me waiting for prissy pants to once again raise her magic baton.

I'm thinking....."REALLY PEOPLE! These are balloon pants. I am not overweight!!! I weigh exactly 118 pounds under these balloons!! But who would believe me now? Oh the horror.




This does not happen to me when I'm playing the the Meez piano in my jammies on Blogger. It does not happen in my sidebar day after day after day. Or when I'm walking in my sleep. I want to go back to my blog!
I want to go home!



It was time to pay the locked bathroom karma. And anyway, what's a good classical performance without a fat lady. We all know it ain't over 'til the fat lady sits. What else could go wrong?


So glad you asked.


As previously predicted, Santa Claus indeed showed up. He was scheduled to slip down the make-believe chimney carrying a huge stocking of toys, scamper around eating milk and cookies and purposely fall out of the fireplace onto the floor with a thud on the last chord of our cute little song.
Santa to the rescue.


If only he'd been watching where he was going.


Why did I choose a nearsighted singer for this task? He sat. He reached for the food.. The chair tilted. The chair fell. The cup flew out of his hand. (rewind for a second to Mimi's baton-flying jokes and smell the karma)
Why cry over imaginary stage milk? Right?



If only he'd been listening to my instructions.


.....and hadn't gotten stuck in the false fireplace back and missed his cue.
If only I'd hired a smaller Santa with better eyesight and less drama.
Rewind to Mimi's missed cue by say....five minutes.

Wake up and smell the karma.


It was almost time for the show stopper ending. A snazzy and oh-so-not-jazzy a cappella finger-snapping toe-tapping melody about Mary and her Rocking Baby. It was lovely. Just lovely.

Until the unexpected modulations occurred.
How many could there be? Would it ever end? And where?
Ever been on a runaway train?

All I can tell you is that until last night such a chord never existed and was certainly never meant to sing alongside Puccini and Mozart's Cordon Bleu.

But we made a fine debut of it. Loud and proud. An improvisational masterpiece it was. Inspirational, I say. What started in C Major ended in a jazz chord that hadn't - until that very moment - been invented. Genius!

Out of tune genius, but brilliance nonetheless.


Jesus rocked. Mary swayed. And the audience - including the farm animals in the manger - clapped their hands.

I was truly overwhelmed.
It was a spiritual moment.

The singers glowed. I bowed. People wondered aloud. I ignored them and drank my imaginary cappuccino - complete with leftover cookie crumbs on the floor from Santa's earlier spill - counting the karma that was left to pay on the white-knuckled fingers of the one hand that could still grip the psychotic baton. It was sensational!
What a performance! Memorable....to say the least. Wouldn't you agree?


And what did I learn?

I'll never step on stage without my crown again - or proper attire and my best Scarlett O'Hara pout. Just because I didn't have a skirt with a maestro look is no excuse either.

And I'm never gonna wear balloon pants for the rest of my vain little life.

Never ever EVER tell the how -many- sopranos-does- it-take-to- screw in a light bulb get-out- of-a-locked-bathroom joke again.
There's no karma like show karma ya know.....


The next seventy-two hours will be non-stop rehearsals and performances.
I'm ready this time.

All hail the power of the pencil skirt.

Addendum: I saw my professor at a Christmas party a couple of years ago.
My friend, Smarty Pants Soprano, was also present.
We reminded him of the opera night fiasco.
You guessed it. He was still not amused.





Copyright © 2008 Mimi Lenox. All Rights Reserved.

43 comments:

Starrlight said...

He might not have been amused but *I* was! The Lucille Ball thing? That would be me. When I am not being Scarlett and I being Red. Oy.

Mimi Lenox said...

Starr - Fiddle-dee.
I'll think about that tomorrow.....

tarheelrambler said...

Why do I get the feeling that Your Highness has had more than one episode like the Sopranos in the Bathroom incident in her lifetime? :0) There has got to be a book in there somewhere. Or maybe a sitcom...I think maybe Lucille Ball may be channeling.

Lisa said...

It's good you can laugh about it. The wonderful thing is that the audience never knows a thing. lol

I was singing a solo in the Vivaldi Gloria when I decided to take a mommy mental break and worry about my wee one who had spiked a fever just as I was leaving for the concert. When I finally mentally returned to the concert, I realized I'd been holding a note for several measures but NO idea how many. When I caught up, I realized I had been singing for about 2 measures more than necessary and it was time to come in again (but I was still singing.) So, I took a quick breath, "came in again," and afterwards the conductor said, "I could have kissed you when you came back in." :) whew. A concert is no time for thinking!

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

oh you poor little girl. i know you were the star of the night. you have to remember the crown! i started wearing my tiara about everywhere and it's tits!

smiles, bee
xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Lois Grebowski said...

Thanks for sharing that story.

There are days I hate Karma...and then there are those when I love it.

You're always a star in my eyes, Mimi!
:-D)

Mimi Lenox said...

Lee - That was not the first time...or the last. Lucille Ball has always been sitting on my shoulder my whole life. I used to imitate her facial expressions growing up watching her on TV. I still love to watch the re-runs.

Mimi Lenox said...

Lisa - You can say that again. You have to pretend your only sphere of existence is that little spot on stage. I'll bet you were embarrassed! Been there.

Mimi Lenox said...

Bee - It's "tits"? Huh?

Bud Weiser, WTIT said...

I was singing a solo in the Connecticut Opera and Marching Band, when I decided to take a mental break and worrying about the disappointed look in the twin’s faces win I said I had to leave. I was leaving for the concert. When I finally mentally returned to the concert, I realized I'd been holding a note for hours but NO idea how many. When I caught up, I realized I had been singing for about 2 hours and everyone had left and turned off the lights. So, I took a quick breath, "came in again," and it was still empty. Would you like to hear an encore?

Bud Weiser, WTIT said...

Win? I shouldn't do this log thing without alcohol...

Mimi Lenox said...

Lois - Why, thank you, ma'am. It's interesting....The parts that get left on the stage are more and more a part of who I really am. As I get older I think all these characters are melding. And it's perfectly legal with no MPD drugs needed! YAY!

Shannon H. said...

Karma seems to bite rather hard at times Mimi! I would have laughed if I had been there but after seeing your side of the story I might not have laughed so hard :P

Mimi Lenox said...

Bud - You lost me at "I was singing a solo" (I've heard you sing) then I mentally checked back in after the shock of visualizing a marching band and an opera in the same performance (while Sousa rolled over in his grave). It's always a "win" with the twins anyway. I'm sure that's what you meant.

No encore, please.

Mimi Lenox said...

P.S. - When you wrote this I thought you were drinking!

Mimi Lenox said...

Shannon - It's OK to laugh at me. That's what I'm here for.

I think.
Sigh.

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

This played out like the Keystone Cops. Bwahahahahaha. I think you've paid your KARMA dues for the next fifty years. Bwahahahahahaah.

Thanks for the laughs. Have a terrific day, and break a leg. Big hug and lotsa lovies. :)

carol g said...

BRAVA, BRAVA.... encore

Your stories and story telling magic always cheer my day. Thank you.

Bond said...

I love this story...never stop telling it

KARMA...heck, Earl beat it so can you (TV reference)

Lizza said...

Oh, Mims, you crack me up! It ain't over till the fat lady sits...hahahaaaa

LOVE your take-my-photo-in-the-mirror images, btw. You're so beautiful.

Mimi Lenox said...

Sandee - Truth is stranger than fiction...so true. I can't wait to see what happens this year. I'll keep you posted....Big hugs to you too.

Mimi Lenox said...

Carol - I'm so happy to hear that! The rehearsal went well today....it was crazy as usual but that's normal. Time to "break a leg" tomorrow night. Wish me luck.
NO. NO. Don't do THAT. That's bad luck....

Mimi Lenox said...

Bond - Who is Earl?

And thank you. I won't.

Mimi Lenox said...

Lizza - I appreciate the compliment. Thank you...but think about it...can a ditz be truly beautiful? There's the trade off.
It ain't over til the fat lady blogs...

Ha! I just wrote my next blog post title.... (taking notes...and talking to myself..don't mind me..)

Speedcat Hollydale said...

What a post ... I am taking carma nores. jot jot jot

One thing, and I am sure this is a dumb question, but what are baloon pants? Can you fly in them?

Speedy wants some flying ballon pants!

Speedcat Hollydale said...

"notes" .... ha haaaa!!!

I blame mispeels on my ballon pants.

Speedcat Hollydale said...

What if I filled some cargo pants with helium .... would that work?

Speedcat Hollydale said...

parachute pants and nitrogen??

Mimi Lenox said...

Eric - You're cracking me up with the balloon pants here.....Balloon pants are pants with very large bellowing "balloony" legs with lots of room in them. Prissy and (hopefully) elegant if worn with the right heels. I love mine but I was told after this fiasco to "burn the pants!"

Bad karma and all that....

P.S. I'm sure there's a proper name for them. Not sure "balloon" is it.

Mimi Lenox said...

carma nores? Is that like smores? 'Cause I love chocolate.
Just sayin!

Mimi Lenox said...

Eric - Do not put helium in your pants!!

I cant' believe I just typed that.

Speedcat Hollydale said...

(in a very high voice)


... to late Mimi

Mimi Lenox said...

Eric! - Back away from the helium....You don't want to ruin your Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head singing voice.
It wouldn't be the same in falsetto.

Vodka Mom said...

"Wake up and smell the karma."

karma has been biting my ass for years. dammit.

Summer said...

GREAT KARMA STORY! I almost felt bad for laughing, but then I just read Speedcat's comments. I was laughing so hard cappuccino came out my nose. lol. He definitely needs balloon pants. And a camera because I have to see that.

Mimi Lenox said...

VMom - Sometimes Karma bites...

Mimi Lenox said...

Summer - It's OK that you laughed. If Eric wears balloon pants (I smell Paintshop...) it could get really ugly.

Don't tell him I said that.

Speedcat Hollydale said...

he can't hear anything ...

hug hug

Hi Summer!!!!

Patti said...

Mimi, I love reading about the other side of your life, the diva up on stage side.

I hope you break a leg tonight!

Good bluck (blog + luck)

Ferd said...

I totally enjoyed this! : )
Why is it so funny to read about someone else's anguish? Maybe it's that we can all relate to awkward moments, and that really, no harm came to anyone, except maybe to your Royal Feelings! Ha!

You are as lovable as they come! Lucille Ball has excellent company!

Mimi Lenox said...

Patti - My real life is very very busy right now. I was pleased with the concert last night. Thanks for the well wishes!

Mimi Lenox said...

Ferd - I'm glad you found this amusing. So did I! (but not at the time). Hindsight is always blogworthy.

katherine. said...

I am in catch up mode...and I thought this was going to be about a member of the "family" on HBO....rolling my eyes....

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