"Miss Pencil Skirt, you will sing the Mozart."
"I will sing the Mozart what? ""You will sing First Lady in the Mozart....
"The Magic Flute First Lady?"
"But I didn't audition for the First Lady, Second Lady or even Third!! "
"Miss Pencil Skirt, you will sing the First Lady in the Magic Flute."
While I've previously told the beginnings of this tale in other blog posts, I never led you down the most embarrassing rabbit hole. Sure I got stuck in the ladies room while socialites eating Chicken Cordon Bleu waited on the soprano-that-never-was. Sure I nearly caused the conductor to have a stroke right then and there in his black and white choker thing. Sure I slid out of a pick-up truck in a black puffy evening gown in downtown metropolis just in the nick of time to arrive for the downbeat (oops, no I never told that one)....and all because of the Magic Flute and my propensity for coloratura.
And more ditz than any soprano ought be born with.
"But ne'er did I tell - until today - of the day I led the first act of Mozart's masterpiece down an I-Love-Lucy trail of comedy that wasn't in the score.
This time I heard, "Miss Pencil Skirt, the Flute quintet will be the guinea pigs for the new opera director's audition master class on Tuesday. He would like to get a position at this school. Just follow his direction. You will sing First Lady."
Today I would be singing a coloratura role with my usual shades of ever-changing lyric soprano - with an F above high C thank you very much - for the poor soul who had to direct me and my crew. And his job depended on my ability to follow his direction and his ability to figure out how he was going to best dole it out. He needed to impress. I needed to pay attention.
And it didn't help my pencil brain any that Mr. Opera Candidate was drop-dead gorgeous and dripping with charisma. I was a tad distracted you might say.
(He looked a bit like Belgian director Nicholas Lens seen here but I digress.)
Where was I?
You see, it is the God-given duty of the First Lady to present the "magic flute" to the Prince. Not the Duke, not the Earl, Not the Duchess, Not even the Queen of the Night. She gets to sing "The Vengeance Of Hell Boils In My Heart" (doesn't that sound divine??!) while hanging in the air in all her glory. See?
I so hated her.
I didn't get to do the fun stuff like that.
I just had to pass the flute to Prince Tamino. That was my job. It was bad enough that Mozart named his characters nearly identically and some were females portraying males and some were males portraying birds (!) There was Pamina. Pamino. Tamina. Tamino. Filipino. Filipina. And Palamino (I just made those last 3 up.)
And I took it seriously. I had the sole responsibility of forwarding the storyline by ceremoniously presenting the subject of the entire opera (the magic flute that can change men's hearts) to the Prince - who stood on my left.
And that's exactly what I intended to do.
After about fourteen changes in direction and a couple of winks from Director Dreamy I finally held the flute in my hand. I sang my part. I flourished. I climbed the scale. I skipped scales altogether. I made up scales. I relished. I embellished. I tripped tra-la-las. I sang. I smiled. And then I turned.
To the right.
And what do I see? Papageno The Birdman - who is in a cage covered from head to toe with bird feathers on his hands and knees with a large padlock glued to his mouth for telling a lie. You'd think I'd get a clue but nooooo.....So I presented the marvelous magic flute to The Birdman "Papageno" who cannot accept it because he's a little busy with the padlock and chains.
I am not in the clip below. This is UCONN's 2007 Magic Flute Quintet. At about marker 1:30 I made my blunder except she was going in the wrong - or right -direction, depending on her level of common sense.
Where was I? (which is a question I should have long ago asked...)
Picture this: He had no hands with which to receive said flute. The poor baritone on his knees could only grunt and motion with his eyes and head for me to turn around. I thought he was acting very strangely indeed.
Oh. But I did not care.
I sang. I flourished. I scaled. I climbed. I soared. I was full of myself I was.
Oh. Did I tell you that the entire music faculty looked upon this spectacle of brilliance? Not one of my professors, not two, not three, not four....but all of them.
Can someone say bye-bye music scholarship?
Well, after about 30 seconds of disgust and and amazement from the doomed director and the singer who somehow managed not to swallow the prop in his mouth, the accompanist stopped playing and the entire room broke into laughter. It was a moment.
And one I never want to live again.
Baritone bird had a word of prayer with me right then and there . "Didn't it give you a clue, Miss Pencil Skirt, that I was on my knees in a cage? Do I look like a Prince to you??!" ....
He did have a point.
By then the entire cast lost focus and nearly fell in the floor laughing - including me. Who knew there was comedy in the middle of Act I?
Some things never change.