Saturday, December 3, 2011

Opera Boof

IF ONE goes by his published output, senior writer Michael Shmith of The Phage has plenty of time in a typical working week to fine-tune his wardrobe. One column every seven days and that is about it. Like fellow senior writer and Saturday columnist Suzy-Hyphen-Greene, another once-a-weeker, he must not find the gig too taxing: a standard 800-or-so words which are, inevitably, about himself. It is a subject his mother and perhaps one or two other readers might find compelling, but at the Billabong the standard reaction after a paragraph or two is always a big yawn and the sudden, near-overwhelming urge to crawl back between the sheets and return to sleep. Today, though, his protest at being asked to turn out for the premiere of Don Giovanni in a dinner jacket represents that rarest of Shmithian achievements: It is actually worth remarking upon.

Summed up, Shmith’s objection is that formal attire is exclusionary and elitist, which it is. But what is wrong with that? Some of us actually like it, and the authority on that would be the Professor’s paramour of the moment, who spent much of the afternoon gussying up for opening night. If you attended the show and noticed a fetching redhead in a green gown, you would know how good she looked and, more to the point, how much she enjoyed knowing how good she looked. It is the way of women and the joy of men -- some men -- who late at night on such occasions get to experience the joy they knew as children on Christmas morning. Except it is better because no Mecano set ever murmured appreciatively as its gift wrapping was peeled slowly away.

All that was asked of the Professor (and of Shmith) was to don a black suit with panels of satin on the lapels. Being a clip-on, the bow tie represented no great imposition and, indeed, required less thought than a Windsor knot. Why not wear a tuxedo, as the Americans call them? At some $400 for a pair of first-night tickets, that expense was sufficiently high to warrant – indeed, to demand – a touch of elitism. As Schmith apparently did not pay for his seats, it is no less than churlish to be having a go at those who did and sought to make a night of it.

If Shmith wishes to attend the opera in his gardening clothes, he could have waited a day or two, paid for his own ticket and turned up looking as down at heel as his newspaper’s circulation figures. No one would object unless he had been spreading manure beforehand – organic  manure, rather than the stuff that dribbles down the page beneath his byline most weekends.

A NOTE: If you can get tickets for the next few performances, do so. Teddy Tahu Rhodes, who does the Don a treat, will be surrendering the role to Shane Lownencev, a fine singer. But the girls, they love their Teddy, as the Professor’s companion demonstrated by drifting off to sleep with talk of his little leather underpants, a feature of his previous turn in the role, trailing from her languid lips. And gentlemen, don’t be jealous. As a kindler of feminine desire he leaves oysters and champagne for dead.     


  1. "I have heard with admiring submission the experience of the lady who declared " that the sense of being perfectly well-dressed gives a feeling of inward tranquillity which religion is powerless to bestow.""
    --Ralph Waldo Emerson. Social Aims.

  2. I've read his piece. What a wanker. By the way, there are two Cs in Meccano, Prof, you lucky bastard.

  3. 'Teddy Tahu Rhodes' sounds like the name of rapper

    Yo, I'm Teddy Tahu at da microphone
    In da hood, I'm da operatic baritone
    I'm chillin' out wid de yoot in the Ghetto
    Wid da songs from da Aida and da Rigoletto
    I got da 16 round Glock and da hommie army
    and we shake our boodies to Don Giovani

  4. Opera singers' tall order
    Clever headline, given Teddy (the colossus of Rhodes) is to be succeeded by an even taller singer.

  5. Elizabeth (Lizzie) B.December 3, 2011 at 11:13 PM

    I just love a man done up in formal attire with studs on his shirt and a black bow tie (properly tied please Professor) and sentimental cufflinks chosen for him by me. I love to toss my hair and to swirl in my twirly gown and wear diamonds and high heels and glitter and chatter into the night and fall into bed with a champagne laugh and my head full of arias and anticipation.

    'We are such stuff as dreams are made on...' but let us not sleep too soon.

  6. Opera Boof? More Opera Wham-bam, going on this report.

  7. Shmug Shmith?

    Agree totally Prof.

  8. Apparently the difficulty was with "black", otherwise he thought his bespoke pink Speedo would have met the standard.