We were rehearsing Beethoven
The director and I
For a performance of 'Ah, Perfido!'
A gesture of remarkable confidence
In my ability
Considering the years of recent silence
My limited training on operatic scale
And my 'maturity'.
So I threw myself into Italian study
Like a possessed woman
Texts and tapes -
And suave Italian waiters -
For the practised freedom of plummy vowels
And proper accent
To gain a sense of 'whipping the aria'
With authoritative fury,
Of serving the composer with respect
For his musical genius.
I was naively fearless
But remarkably successful.
And soon, sound and diction
Were merging admirably -
A certain, believable 'fluency'
Suddenly, he stopped playing
Leaving my voice hanging in mid-air
'I have decided,' he said
'That when I shampoo my hair from now on
I'm going to wash the rest of myself
With the same suds.
What a waste of soap!
Pure quackery of commerce -
Shampoo and body wash!'
And I whooped
Doubled over, hardly able to breathe
Laughing so hard.
'Well, that should do you good.
You need more air capacity.
Stretch those lungs.
Now, let's go again.
And give it the 'Full Monty!'
Which sounded very 'professional'.
I had no idea what he meant.
Although I got the gist.
No, I didn't. Not really.
But, after I moved to England