Our resident cowboy, Steve, brought us the shocking news: cowpuncher Three-Chord Cortez, that bunkhouse balladeer, plans to study opera, in hopes an aria or three will make him even more attractive to girls during a serenade. Apparently, singing La Donna Mobile might be more effective than “You don’t know what lonesome is ‘til you start herding co-o-o-ows” … especially if she doesn’t speak European.
I thought I’d jot down a few opera-watching truths for ol’ T.C. just to help him out.
1. Take off your hat. You can keep jujubes in it if you want.
2. If you like a particular aria, you can yell Bravo! if it’s a man, Brava!
if it’s a woman, or Bravisimo! if it’s an isimo. It’s considered poor form to yell “Eeeee-HAAA!” or “You get ‘em, Hon!”
3. One of the strangest operatic devices is called recitative – pronounced rest-a-TEEF – (don’t ask), and is a combination of singing and speaking that is used when the composer wants to hurry through a song because he wasn’t too fond of it in the first place but it was in the contract and he wants it out of the way quickly. Feel free to mention recitative to a woman at half time. Operas have two half times.
The speaking part of the recitative is done like a machine gun, and then you break into song when you get tired of that, and it can happen in the same sentence. For example:
“Don’t make me come down there, don’t make me come down there, don’t make me come down there and k-i-i-i-I-I-I-I-i-i-ck your bu-u-u-u-u-tt.”
4. That bit of music they play before the curtain goes up is called the overture, and not foreplay.
It’s to give you a hint of what’s to come, in case you decide to leave early. You might listen to the overture and say, “That allegretto tickles my fancy, but if that tenor duet goes on for more than two minutes, I’ll get the scours.”
This makes a guy a connoisseur, you see. Connoisseur is European for smart aleck.
And finally, 5. Don’t forget to clean your boots.
Brought to you by Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing. Available at riograndebooks.com.