Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Opera Sideline




Did I tell you that I can sing? No... phew, then I don't have to apologise publicly for fibbing. I can't sing, not a note, I am tone deaf. That probably has something to do with the fact that I was classed as being profoundly deaf for four years. After surgery a few years back I am now just classed as being mutton and ignorant by those around me that don't know my history. My hearing is deteriorating again.

So when I was asked to get involved in a project working with the regional opera company I was a little nonplussed to say the least. I protested loudly, (I sometimes forget to adjust my volume control), to the powers that be, 'you want me, but I can't sing, I won't be able to hear the flipping music properly.'  Their reply, 'ah but if they can get you to sing then it won't be a problem getting some of our morally challenged bods to sing.' I suppose there was some method in their madness. As you know I am always game for a new adventure and things have been a tad slow at work recently, so I agreed.

Yesterday I set off for the venue with an array of the morally challenged in tow. I did not hold out much hope of engaging them as at least two of them thought they were going to the cinema and one very large chap named Junior told me in no uncertain terms that he was only there as it was this or attending the job centre.  So we arrived at the dance studio, yes a dance studio, very elegant, lots of nubile distractions for Junior and his new posse. I smiled bravely at the waiting opera singers who were to attempt to engage my morally challenged crew.

The scene in the studio reminded me somewhat the film Zulu. The three beautiful and elegant performers facing a group of bods with eyes narrowed, jaws set and expressions begging the performers to bring it on. As the studio floor was polished wood, they had been told to remove their shoes, I looked down the row to see an assortment of odd socks, holes, socks that looked as though they would walk out of the room under their own steam and a set of brightly painted toe nails with gems. Very pretty, however the aroma wafting up from the said feet was beginning to fill the vast space. It seemed however that our elegant performers were not in the least phased and their gracious smiles glancing off perfect white teeth remained set in place.

As the day progressed I was astonished to see that my dysfunctional brood who barely a few hours previous had communicated in grunts were now bonding, not only with one another but with the performers. Further more they were beginning to make sounds akin to music and moving in a purposeful and coordinated fashion. There was a definite buz in the studio and no it wasn't the feet.

At the end of the day we were performing, yes performing a mini opera. Then Junior opened his mouth and threw his arms out wide and sang solo, with an incredibly rich baritone voice that made the hairs on my neck stand. A huge grin on his face replacing the previous sullen challenge. The performers had broken into his world and he into theirs and it was then that I realised just how much these three beautiful people had achieved. They understood the facade, they are actors who sing, they simply broke down that facade in a new way.

After the performance we all sat together and it was clear that the people I had taken there in the morning were no longer in the room, they had been replaced by a confident outgoing group of people who were now communicating in sentences, making eye contact and smiling, there was lots of smiling. They had been accepted, holey socks, sweaty feet and all, by a group of people who to them were elite and a world apart. They will all be carrying on with the project over the coming months with the intention of gaining work placements with the Opera. this is however only if they stay out of trouble and behave themselves, a huge incentive as they will not want to loose what they have tasted and savoured. As for me, I gave them a few laughs as I attempted to sing, but my days of singing opera are now at an end and it is back to my usual day job.

There are some, perhaps some amongst you, who do not like this form of intervention. I fully understand that and I don't have all of the answers. I suppose being the Saint of lost causes, I like to at least try and think that people can change otherwise I am simply reduced to being a jailer!

15 at confession:

Chris Pittock said...

Good work there St. Jude. I too am surprised that the idea worked out ad well ad it did.

Perhaps there is hope for our society after all!

Well done for setting the ball rolling.

Pat said...

There is something magical about singing in a choir and everybody should have the opportunity - especially the less fortunate.
I share your sadness at the loss of a singing voice.

savannah said...

fantastic, sugar! if something works and keeps just 1 kid out of an early grave, i am all for it! good work, honey! xoxoxo

Malc said...

I'm sure the Daily Mail wouldn't approve, but anything that gives young people (morally challenged or otherwise) some fun and maybe a little hope it fine by me. Nice one.

I stumbled in from Geoff's place, by the way.

Brett said...

great post

Diney said...

I love the idea of one of the crew seeing the day out at as marginally better than the job centre!! Amusing post, and great to know it worked out for them. I used to have hypnosis to help my nerves before I sang in amateur musicals as I was always led to believe by my school choir leader that I was tone deaf. I think she just didn't like me!

Kevin Musgrove said...

Challenging people to step out of their stereotype for a while is usually rewarding. I bet your boss will be pleased with the improvement in your productivity this week. (-:

Polergirl said...

Would love to hear whether they managed to stick with it, or if the novelty wears off after a couple of sessions and the job centre becomes more appealing. Well done for bringing some hope into their lives, if only for a brief moment.

white rabbit said...

Plucky you and a good story.

The pic is scary though. Are those bin lid type things detachable?

zeevie said...

it was a very good post

English Rider said...

A reminder that they are human too that will maybe make them want to live up to that challenge. Definitely worthwhile. Also, if they do find work there are not many children involved in Opera. I was going to suggest horse therapy/riding but there are way too many young people around horses.

Charlie said...

Any kind of intervention that works is worth its weight in gold. Talk about "thinking outside the box"!

Gazing momentarily at your photo, I wasn't aware that you possess such large bosoms. I learn something new about you every day.

ModernMom said...

Oh this is a great story!

St Jude said...

thank you everyone, it is heart warming to know that not everyone wants these people locked away from the 'good' people of society. Unless we show some compassion and become role models then what reason do they have to change.

Charlie - hun, they are not my bosoms!!

Robert Swipe said...

"..one very large chap named Junior told me in no uncertain terms that he was only there as it was this or attending the job centre"

We had pretty much the same attitude to appearing on 'Cheggars Play Pop' back in the 70s St. Jude...

So you're tone deaf and can't sing eh? In this business, you'll go far!!

L.U.V. on ya your holiness,

Bob

 
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