Saturday, August 27, 2011

Great Singing at the 7-11 Store

Perfect legato technique and the ability to sing high C are a not skills in great demand just now.  The pop music culture and Hollywood scene are almost as bad as the banking industry--drug money, phoney money, government money. You can't make your own kind of music in that show. The business end of a passion for art, or whatever, is real messy.

Now it starts to get good in this upside-down mad world. You're working nights at 7-11, even though you are pretty hot stuff at the YMCA and the Fat Chance Opera company. That voice! Rich bronzed horse flesh. You're better than the guy you heard at Harriett's piano bar. What was the name of that flea trap?

It's the middle of the night. Verdi's Otello is in the CD player. Sing along. Why not! The last customer came in three hours ago, wasted. You brought down the house at the beginning of Act II. Your interpretation of Iago's Credo scared the leopard-skin bikini off the twitch on the cover of Hot Rod Magazine.

Credo in un Dio crudel  "I believe in a cruel God who has made me in his own image, whom I name in my rage... ."   Shakespeare didn't write that, but then, he didn't have a soundtrack like Verdi's score.

Well into the second act, you're singing, and you turn with a flourish toward the glass doors where a stick-up artist is coming in. For crying out loud, another interruption!

This crook looks a bit nervous under the stage lights. Obviously, he's inexperienced, but a two-bit 7-11 store should be an easy job to add to his short resume. Preoccupied, he is ignoring Verdi's music.

"Give me the money."

"Just let me get through the second act, will you?.  If you come back later there'll be more."

"You're joking, of course."

"It's been a slow night. Can you settle for about forty dollars and a couple of six-packs?"

"Well, certainly, I'll take whatever you can offer." A very courteous thief. "Throw in some corn flakes and a gallon of milk, and it's a deal."

"How about a pastrami sandwich for the road?"

"How do you expect me to carry all this stuff? I'm walking, man! Aren't you being awfully generous with your boss's merchandise?"

"Why fight the system? He's insured. I was a hero with the first crook who came in here, even more inexperienced than you. The guy looked like a pervert, so I told him I wouldn't call the police for at least an hour if he would take subscriptions to several magazines, his choice.  It was 4:00 PM, and customers were crouched behind every gum ball machine and cooler. He was unsteady with the gun. The boss said I should have just given him the money. `You want to get somebody killed?' He said.  But, I'm holding you up, holding me up."

This should be good for a chuckle, but try not to let it interupt the rhythm of the work. "So, what'll it be? The pastrami, or the corn flakes and milk?"

"I'll take the milk, for sure. Got a kid at home."  The crook has calmed down enough so maybe we can get this over with before Si pel ciel. But now he's listening to the music, and he notices the recording package on the counter top. "The Domingo/ Milnes duet is coming up," he says.

"Yeah.  Take a box of animal crackers for the kid. I'd like to stay in character. If I turn this thing off, I have to start my Stanislavski exercises all over again."

"You use Stanislavski technique? They taught us method acting at Eastman."

"Well it works for me. You know this music, eh?"

"We did a concert version at Eastman."   He looks like an Otello.  Big.  Black. With a high-pitched, big-man voice, he's a dramatic tenor if there ever was one.

"I sang most of Iago at the University of Washington in an opera workshop. Piano accompaniment only. With a faculty tenor. I was older than he was, I think."

"I'll be darned. You're a singer. Something told me you weren't the English-degree type one usually finds in these places."

"I'm a little under qualified for the literary magazines, but I had the right connections to get the job."

Verdi's brass ensemble vibrates loose trim on the countertop. The lights burn down from their tracking. Neither of these corralled horses is going to miss his cue. Here it comes.

""Si pel ciel marmoreo giuro... .""  Vengeance! Vengeance, by God! Vengeance

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