Lindsay Perigo
Lindsay Perigo

The Politically Incorrect Show - 26/07/2001

[Music - Die Fledermaus]

Good afternoon, Kaya Oraaa & welcome to the Politically Incorrect Show on the free speech network, Radio Pacific, for Thursday July 26, proudly sponsored by Neanderton Nicotine Ltd., the show that says bugger the politicians & bureaucrats & all the other bossyboot busybodies who try to run our lives with our money; that stands tall for free enterprise, achievement, profit, & excellence, against the state-worshippers in our midst; that stands above all for the most sacred thing in the universe, the liberty of the human individual.

[Music up, music down!]

I've had it up to the eyeballs with everything serious, so - now for something completely different. Yesterday I made a passing reference to my favourite TV commercial, the AMI Insurance ad that begins with a young couple in bed. SHE gets up to have a shower, but is beaten to it by her mother, so she decides to go into the kitchen to talk to her dad. Unsuspecting boyfriend, meanwhile, decides to spring a surprise on her. Wicked glint in his eye, he sneaks into the bathroom, locks the door behind him, gets his gear off ... & proceeds to pull back the shower curtain. Double-takes by him & girlfriend's mother are followed by screaming & pandemonium. He tries to flee, but, hot & flustered, is unable to unlock the door. More screaming, as he puts his hand over his privates - whereupon the voice-over says, "We can't provide cover for every occasion, but ..."

Which is a roundabout way of introducing one of my favourite embarrassment-yarns from real-life. Actually, it seems too improbable to be true, but it is recorded as fact in a book called Great Operatic Disasters by Hugh Vickers, from which I now quote (the context, incidentally, is a performance of Tosca at the City Opera Center, New York, 1960):

"This catastrophe is - delightfully - due entirely to ill-will, in this case between the stage staff & the soprano. With diabolical cunning, they permitted her, after several stormy rehearsals, to complete her first performance without mishap until the very last moment, when Tosca throws herself off the battlements of the Castel Sant'Angelo. What normally happens is that on her cry, 'O Scarpia, davanti a Dio' she hurls herself off & lands on a mattress four feet below (who but Callas has ever looked totally convincing at that moment? - Her outstretched hands haunt the memory). But in this case it was not Callas but a large young American who landed, not on a mattress, but - perish the thought - on a trampoline. It is said that she came up fifteen times before the curtain fell - sometimes upside down, then the right way up - now laughing in delirious glee, now screaming with rage ... Worse still, it seems that the unhappy lady was unable to reappear in any other Opera Center performance throughout the entire season because the Center's faithful audience, remembering the trampoline, would have burst into laughter. She had to remove herself to San Francisco, where of course no such grotesque incident could possibly occur."

Conjure up & savour the image of the reappearing prima donna, if you will, as I play you the dramatic last moments of Tosca.

[Play Tosca CD 2, Tk 19, from 45" to end.]

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