NCPA was the venue for the my first EVER Opera Act… and boy was it an experience! It was a congregation of the classes (them) and 3 scruffy looking guys (Fuzz, myself and Amar …. in order of relative scruffiness! Amar wore a Google T-shirt… Shilpi’s mind went: What was he thinking???Beachboys???? On the other hand thankfully he had his jeans on… ’cause most of the time, he wears a hybrid between a boxer short and cycling pants!). Above all, Shilpi maintained that she looked classy… and as always our opinions never really mattered! Anyway apart from us… there were The Elites (3 piece suits, low cut blouses and knee high skirts), there were these jewelery shops/glitterati ensemble trotting in high heels few inches above the terra firma… add to this random foreigners professing love for world music … and finally there were The Italians… La Italianos… El Italianouvos. Of notable mention, were the lively and frail ‘one foot in grave’ ladies, who were there in scarves and chiffons, Pradas, Christian Diors, D&Gs and Glucon Ds. There were music lovers, there were the clueless and there were the talkers… who actually knew when to say an oooh and when to say an aaah, while conversing with another ooh-aah person! There were the animated ones and then there were the stone-cold ones. And we… well we tried hard to fit in somewhere, camouflaging ourselves behind our intellectual looks and talking as if we KNEW what the whole deal was about. Shilpi needed help… and we like very chivalrous gentlemen helped! (Note: this could very well be… my last post!)
Anyway, we amble in slowly… and take seats at the back, knowing that sitting in front could be potentially risky. A very wise decision in the end! Now then the thing is that all 4 of us were big music enthusiaists. Fuzz, the most experienced of the lot with years and years of experience with classical music, was our guide to the whole thing. Our quartet comprised of me with li’l Carnatic vocal training of roughly about 3 months, Fuzz playing the classical guitar, Amar who plays the drums, and Shilpi, who has great taste in music and who plays…. err… with Cats ( not to be confused with the musical)! So then, the show started off with instrumentals… a piano, a violin and a cello! Brilliantness! I fell in love with the pianist lady’s hands… as they glided along the black and whites, like a paper aeroplane in flight! All went well till the vocals started. The Soprano lady came and started singing her arias (small pieces of an opera). Now the thing about Opera singing is that you treat you vocal chords like a string/wind instrument, and typically end up having to touch all the notes, and that too in quick succession at times. So the singers were sort of the 4th instrument in the whole act. It is a very tough ask, and took years and years of experience to do what we witnessed. We sat… and listened intently… and to be frank… it sounded weird! But, not one to make decisions based on first impressions, I tried to find and invoke a liking for this.
Sometime into the performance a little earthquake started…. on probing for reasons… I saw that Fuzz (of all the people) had started giggling away looking at the Soprano singer, who was a thin, petite, beautiful lady in mid thirties! Apparently Fuzz couldn’t help imagining that the Soprano, resembled an ex-colleague of ours! Shilpi gave me a whack, asking me to stop shaking the seat! I pointed that it wasn’t me but Fuzz… and she was in for a shock. The shock was soon overcome by the appearance of the Baritone on stage. A proper Italian dude… long hair, black tux, black shoes… Shilpi melted away like ice in defrost mode! Now to say baritone guy was expressive would be an understatement! He gave all the expressions from ‘Ants-in-Pants’ to ‘Look Maah I am on TV’ to ‘ Marlon Brando in Godfather’, all in less that 10 seconds. And he was singing to us as if Italian and not Hindi, was our second language in school . Shilpi… had to be propped up time and again! Fuzz had completely lost it around this time… and he was re reading the handouts for the 10th time, biting his hand to control his out of control funny bone! Both Amar and I had contracted the Giggle-virus from Fuzz and were soon like fish out of water! I was particularly in a bad state, with sighs on one side and giggles on the other! Amar, after futile efforts to find a pen to write something than look at the singers, finally walked out after three-quarters of the show… I think I saw blood! An old lady turned and glared at me… I didn’t even breathe, afraid that my breath would knock her head off, and inturn cause a landslide of frail limbs. 25 didn’t seem like a good age to go to prison with multiple homicide… plus I was yet to find my elusive she-Floydian!
The highlights of the day… Figaro! Brilliantly sung… we all applauded enthusiastically! Another particular piece that I liked(and knew) was used as a soundtrack in one of them Wong-Kar Wai Films. Mother of all performances, came in the form of some exquisite free gelatos at the venue… We did hear music with every scoop! Having said that … I am game for the next Opera in town! And perhaps… just for the kick of it… we should sit in the front!
PS: Name of the Opera and it’s singers have been with-held to avoid a lawsuit!