I May Have a Helpful Suggestion …

It’s taken me until now to watch this podcast, recorded in November 2008, in which the differences between opera and musicals are discussed. It’s a good chat session, although a little heavy on directors’ issues: I wanted to hear more from Michael John Lachiusa on the comparative freedom of composing opera, after writing for musical theatre (I like his Bernarda Alba score, because it sounds a bit like me).

The panel covers nearly all the traditional definitions of operas and musicals, but none of them is really satisfactory, and I think I may have thought of a helpful sidestep. First, though, here are the standard definitions, in the order I encountered them as a teen:

1. Operas are through-sung, while musicals have numbers with script in-between

I heard this one quite a bit in high school, but I don’t think anyone buys it anymore. Carmen has dialogue, and is certainly an opera. Cats has no dialogue, and certainly isn’t.

2. Operas are just old musicals.

I wish it were this simple, but the number of entrenched conventions is too high, and the range of audience expectations is too wide. Plus there’s that difference in rungs on the cultural ladder. In Pretty Woman, when Richard Gere the billionaire takes Julia Roberts the whore to the theatre, in order to class her up a little, it’s to the opera they go. He says:

People’s reaction to opera the first time they see it is very dramatic; they either love it or they hate it. If they love it, they will always love it. If they don’t, they may learn to appreciate it, but it will never become part of their soul.

This is crap. Screenwriters are always writing this kind of crap. For starters, if Edward, Richard Gere’s character, really loved opera, he wouldn’t say “opera”, he would say “La Traviata”, the particular opera they’re off to see. In fact, he would say something like this:

People’s reaction to La Traviata the first time they see it is very interesting; they either recognise the famous tunes, or they recognise the quality of the longer, less famous scenes. Incidentally, it’s about an impossibly pretty whore, with an undefined terminal illness. So it’s a fairly tasteless choice on my part.

Now, if someone suggested that Gilbert and Sullivan operettas “are just old musicals”, I’d probably agree with them.

3. Operas tell their story through the music; musicals tell it through the text.

This is an attractively snobby pair of definitions, but it also doesn’t wash. It implies that the tonal drama of a well-wrought opera score, and its motivic development and key scheme, all serve to convey the story in ways that words alone cannot. Truer ways, perceivable only by the sensitive and receptive mind. Musical numbers, on the other hand, written individually and without concern for the evening’s overall arc – even if they never stop for dialogue – need vulgar, intelligible text to tell the audience what’s going on. The sensitive and receptive mind, should it attend, is left alone to think about renovations on the laundry.

I think these definitions were developed as a slap in the face to unschooled musical composers, and as a lame excuse for unintelligible opera singers. In any case, a chop-and drop Handel opera, in which arias were (and are) rearranged and interpolated without any regard for a score’s motivic development, doesn’t fit the definition. And neither does a musical like Sunday in the Park with George, which has all the motivic development, faithfully wedded to the plot, that any musicology major could desire.

4. Operas are written for classically trained singers, in rooms designed for their unamplified voices.  Musicals are written for all kinds of amplified voices, only some of them trained.

This one’s attractive because it smacks of a horse-for-courses egalitarianism. And it’s certainly true that I won’t write the same kind of vocal line for a classically trained soprano that I’ll write for a Broadway belter. But that doesn’t make what I’m writing an opera. Just as the work won’t magically become a musical by putting microphones on everybody. All music theatre works should be written with the types of voices, the type of room and the type of amplification (if any) reflected in the score. You know how those old fashioned orchestrators used to make everything quiet and delicate under the dialogue and the weaker singers? We should all still be doing that.

This leads me to my sidestep. It might seem like mere sophistry, but I find it liberating. Ready?

The Sidestep

They’re not forms, the musical and the opera. Musical theatre is a form. Opera and the musical are genres within this form. Big genres, sure, but still just genres.

This means that all the typical structures and procedures of both operas and musicals are not ‘hallmarks of the form’; they’re just conventions of the genre. It’s much easier to mix, to subvert, to rearrange, and even to ignore conventions within a genre. There’s much less pressure involved, too, and writing is a lot more fun.

Thanks to my sidestep, I’m not writing an opera or a musical. I’m writing a piece of musical theatre that uses many of the conventions of opera, and doesn’t use many others (like awful lyrics). Should the time come to describe it in a programme, the Marketing Manager will probably call it a chamber opera. But when I’m writing it, I’m thinking about vocal types and the size of the room. And I’m thinking about the reluctant husband in the audience, wanting – above all – to be entertained.


Adventures in NOVA-land, Part Six

On Friday morning, Horti Hall was being gussied up for everyone’s run-through:

Later, it was even spiffier, in time for an audience that included several dozen impeccably behaved senior schoolkids.

Here’s how Sandy France and Helen Nourse’s Playing With Fire looked on Saturday, for an audience member with few photographic skills.  Chris Dench (composer of WE) is on the left, chin on hand, and the silver-maned Music Director of the Victorian opera, Richard Gill, is on the right.

Eamonn Kelly has already written in The Australian on NOVA, and Australia’s history of spreading seeds of opera upon fertile ground, which is not an illustrious one.  He was also kind enough to say kind things about most of the five NOVA efforts.  In fact, thanks to him and the slippery nature of publicity blurbs, I can now legitimately say this:

The Devil Builds a Chapel
“dripping with neo-gothic, psycho-sexual delight”
                                                            The Australian


“humour, catchy Broadway elements and 1960s popular music flourishes”

The first of those isn’t strictly true; Kelly may have been referring to the delights of supernatural fantasies themselves, rather than to my and David Stanhope’s work in particular.  But I choose not to be fussy.

Here’s the fun thing that happened as we all heard the excerpts over and over again.  At first, mine, The Un-Dead and Playing with Fire were clearly the most immediately accessible pieces (by this, I mean largely tonal, with discrete arias/duets).  I even began to find parts of mine a little banal by the fifth or sixth time I heard them.  Meanwhile, Jane Montgomery Griffiths and Kevin March’s Razing Hypatia, which everyone agreed was a real challenge, and difficult to pull off in only a week, just grew and grew on me.  The finale, in which the heroine spends several pages repeating “it takes a long time to die”, while everything falls apart around her, is just terrific.

Dustine Barnes and Chris Dench’s WE was ten minutes of free atonality, scored in proportional notation (which gave the musicians a nice workout).  Dench explained that he had an animated work in mind, an opera written for the screen.  His music makes me think of a late-night SBS stark visual style, heavy on the black outlines, and I think it would work a treat.  Writing directly for the screen is a wonderful idea, and we should all do more of it; it is getting, as Dench pointed out, cheaper and easier than the stage.

David Stanhope’s The Un-Dead is finished, David said, in a score for full orchestra and an adaptation for chamber ensemble.  So why hasn’t it been seen yet?  It has Dracula, good parts of Stoker’s original dialogue, and a line I can already sing along with (“The children of the night”).  Oh, and three hot vampire chicks who visit you in bed and sing progressively higher ninth chords!  What’s not to like?

Sandy France expressed concern in rehearsal about a rhythmically complicated part of Playing with Fire (two men are arguing about abandoning their houses in the face of a bushfire), and I watched two singers work very hard to master it.  By Saturday, I could have sung along with them, and as I write this (a week later), I can’t get the tune out of my head.  “If we stay-ay, hold our ground …”

All of which underlines the importance of repetition when we’re hearing a new piece.  Obviously, I’m a trained muso, and the circumstances made me listen really, really hard, but there’s a good argument in last week’s experience for the 19th century model of new opera: write it, prepare the orchestral suite from its music, get singers to plant bits in their recitals, and have hotel orchestras play medleys prior to opening night.

The 21st century equivalents of these would be free video and audio on the website, rehearsals on YouTube, music excerpts available before the opening (especially for critics), and interstitials on TV and radio.

In fact, just imagine if you could get your forbidding new music planted in a video game.  There’s some repetition.

Adventures in NOVA-land, Part Five

Here’s what conversations sounded like on Tuesday and Wednesday:

“David, that last beat of bar 79, I have it marked mp.”

“Yes, but still you should die away on the end of the note, so as not to cover the voice.”

“How far do you want me to die away?  To pp?”

“What do you think, Peter?”

“I’m not sure until I hear it with the voice, but let’s try pp for now.”

We were all very arty on Tuesday and Wednesday, very much thinking about nuance and subtlety and finesse.

Here’s what conversations sounded like yesterday morning:

“How long is yours, Peter?”

“Should be seventeen minutes.”

“You sure?”

“It might have stretched out a bit, but definitely less than twenty.”

“Good.  We need a maximum of twenty.”

Yes, practicality reigned by Friday.  And later still …

“What are you planning to wear?”

“I dunno.  A notch up from this, probably.”

“There’s wine afterwards, right?”

“There better be.”

The performances themselves?  I’ll post about the two of them together.

Adventures in NOVA-land, Part Four

So it turns out I can orchestrate a bit.  No need for a ticker-tape parade just yet, but I can orchestrate a bit.

Not that the point of all this is to make me feel good about myself.  The point of this is for me to learn the sort of minute detail that makes the difference between a terrific orchestra call and a painful one.

To wit, the French Horn player (relax, she was just lovely to me), who asked:

“Would you like da da-da?  That is, should I re-articulate the second note, to match the singer?”

“Yes,” I say.  “Is that what I’ve written?”

“No, this is more da-ah-ah …”

“Oh, well, no, the first, to match the singer would be better.”


And there it could have rested, but curiosity got the better of me.

“For future reference,” I said, coming over, “how should I notate that so it’s clearer?  How would I write it so that you automatically re-articulate the second note?”

“Like this.  Remove this, and add this.”

Here’s a visual.  We’re talking about the difference between this:

And this:

See?  One has the phrase mark over all the notes, and the other just between the first two.  If French Horns weren’t so damn great when they’re well-orchestrated and well-played, you might be tempted not to care, but French Horns are damn great when they’re well-orchestrated and well-played.

Incidentally, it has taken me twenty years to learn this about orchestration:

Instruments sound best playing what those instruments should play.

That’s it.  Don’t give an oboe a line that rightly belongs to a trumpet.  Get a trumpet.  Or write an oboe line.  Also, don’t take instruments out of their best range so that triads remain triads.  Put the instruments in their best registers, and you’ll get the same impact as the original triads, even if it’s now spaced over more than an octave.

I will learn this again and again before I really learn it, though.

Adventures in NOVA-land, Part Three

Sandy France is the composer of Playing With Fire, also receiving a workshop this week.  We know each other a little from Canberra, where we both teach and rail against the wilful ignorance of youth.

We immediately extended a mutual open invitation, to attend rehearsals, give feedback etc.  We’ve been hovering a bit around the other composers when we see them (OK, just me doing the hovering), hoping they’ll invite us along too, but perhaps they’re equally nervous and self-deprecating.

The music calls are happening in an intimate room with an upright piano, and in the main hall, which looks like this:


With these essential operatic supplies laid out:


Much of Sandy’s session, like mine yesterday, was concerned with learning, and re-learning new material.  Sometimes, for example, singers know their parts in a duet individually, but once they have to sing with each other, they feel as if they never learned it at all.  This frustrates them, because note-bashing is dull, and they don’t want to be doing it at the expense of higher musical values, like actually running the thing.  It frustrates composers too, because note-bashing is dull, and they want to know if the piece works as a whole.  

Composers should either grow a thick skin or stay away from note-bashing sessions.  You need a thick skin, because …

What the Singer Says Is

“It’s hard because of the length of the phrase.”

And What the Singer Means Is

“It’s hard because of the length of the phrase.”

But What the Composer Hears Is

“You can’t write for voices.  You have no idea.  Go home.”

Afterwards, Sandy and I went for Tom Kha nearby, discussed the above matters, our sneaking fondness for tunes and basic triads, and my fanboy love of the Flower Duet from Lakmé.

Highlight From Day Two

Opera singers, it turns out, are as human as the rest of us.  I say this because I thought they could sing anything.  You know, with all those scary bang-on-a-can, throw-the-plates-at-the-audience, sing-into-a-dead-goose, modern operas floating around, that today’s singers had seen and done everything, and nothing could faze them any more.

Then, in my afternoon session, we spent half an hour note-bashing a couple of bars of waltz time I wrote back in 2009.  It is pretty tricky, that part, and although the three female voices all land on the same A by the end, it’s a little hairy until they get there.

I have a pretty thick skin, as per my own recommendation, but this is what my head does to me when singers find something difficult.  The singers, by the way, are saying things like “It’s hard because of the length of the phrase.” 

Stage OneWell, that’s not what I wrote yet.  I’ll wait until it’s what I wrote.

Stage TwoThat’s closer.  Maybe what I wrote isn’t good …

Stage ThreeWow, this is really hard.  Why did I write it to be so hard?  What was I thinking?  I must have had a reason; I don’t write hard just for the sake of it, do I? 

Stage FourMaybe they could all sing the same part?  Would that be worse?

Stage FiveOK, in five minutes I’m gonna suggest we cut it.

Stage SixWait, that was nearly it!  Now I remember: it’s to contrast with the next part!  The next part is a great relief after all this tension – that’s what I was thinking!

Stage Seven Yeah, that’s it!  There’s that A!  Hell, yeah!  And you all sound great!  And I AM A GOD.  On your knees, all of you.

What Pride Goeth Before

Tomorrow’s call makes me nervous.  Tomorrow’s call is the first orchestra call, and I think I know my way around a voice and a piano, and I can handle a big band just fine, and I can orchestrate for a Broadway-style pit orchestra without too much stress.  But this is a little chamber ensemble, seven instruments, and I just know I will have made some very, very amateurish mistakes.  I just know that the French Horn player will politely call me over, point to a bar, and say, “See this note?  You can’t really play this note at that dynamic.  It’s not the right register for the instrument.  You can’t write for horns.  You have no idea.  Go home.”

I may not get beyond Stage Five tomorrow.

Adventures in NOVA-land, Part Two

I thought Horti Hall, the home of the Victorian Opera, was an amusing pun (Horti, get it?), but it turns out to be short for “Horticultural”.  The place was originally a meeting hall for the Horticultural Society.  Here it is, from the front:

Nice facade, that.  Around the back, the building’s roots, as it were, are more clearly seen:

At the end of the first day’s music call, what I love most about opera singers (yes, I have a glass of wine in front of me, and I am full of bonhomie for you all) is their unstinting efforts to be true to what you’ve written.  Even if what you’ve written ain’t that good, their first instinct is to have a red-hot go at it, and to raise concerns only after they’ve done so.  This has two effects, one good and one not-so.  The first – good – is that you try to do better by them, knowing that they will really try to realise what you throw at them.  The second – not-so – is that you’ll exercise less old-fashioned craft, knowing that they will really try to realise what you throw at them.

Highlights from Day One:

At one point, David McSkimming, who is conducting my excerpt (and a fine, self-deprecating man he is), turned to me and said, “I like this one.”

I had my ear cocked to a door leading outside, through which could be heard the upper notes of Sandy France’s Playing With Fire, having a piano rehearsal across the way.  It sounded most impressive, so I replied, “Yes.  Me too.”

I realised then that David was referring to the piece of music on the stand in front of him – something I’d written.  So I now sounded, instead of generous, cocky.

“Oh,” I said, trying my best to recover.  “Um … oh, right.  I thought you meant – out there – thank you.  Thanks very much.”

Exactly, I like to think, how George Clooney would have handled it.

Opera is Sexy

Sex was very much on everyone’s minds this afternoon, because I was careful, with the singers, to point out the moments when characters were being seductive, if it wasn’t apparent without context.  I like singers to have a good time.

“He knows exactly which buttons to push,” I said of Renard, my lascivious priest, to Julian, the man playing him.  “See how he says ‘Tonight, as you lie in bed’ to the girl?  That’s outrageous!  He seems to mean prayer, but we know what he really means.”

“Ah,” said David McSkimming, a little later.  “So, at ‘inside of you‘ we’ll just let the music pause for a little bit, and leave that to sink in for the audience …”

These opera people.  Filthy, if you let them be.

How to Get Ahead With Composers

We didn’t get to Joan’s aria today, Joan being the high-strung headmistress of the girls’ school in the piece.  The scene is where Joan recounts a very erotic dream she’s been having to her brother.  So I said to Maxine, who’s playing Joan, “With your aria, I’m sure you’ve noticed for yourself – ”

“Look, not to piss in your pocket or anything,” says Maxine, “but that is probably the hottest, sexiest aria I have ever had to sing.”

“Ah.  So you understand it then.”

“Yes, and if this ever gets – you know – goes ahead, I would kill to play Joan.”

Singers take note:  I will now write anything for this woman.  Anything.  You think other composers aren’t as shallow?  Then find me one, just one, who doesn’t want to hear the words “hottest, sexiest aria”.  


Adventures in NOVA-land, Part One

NOVA (New Opera Ventures Australia) was launched last year, and I heard about it through Caroline Stacey, the Artistic Director at the Street Theatre. She suggested I submit my work thus far on my not-yet-finished chamber opera, The Devil Builds a Chapel.

“Wouldn’t I need a little more opera background?” I asked.

“Oh no,” she said.  “I’m on the assessment panel, and there’ll be works coming in from all sorts of places.”

“You’ll need to recuse yourself if you’re on the panel, won’t you?”

“Darling,” she laughed.  “We’ll all have to recuse ourselves at some point.”

And so, apparently, those panellists did.  There were forty-three works submitted to the Venture, administered by Chamber Made Opera and Victorian Opera, and the five of us who got through are being workshopped this week, with two presentations for audiences this coming Friday and Saturday.

So I’m in Melbourne, where I’ve been awake since 4:30 this morning, like a kid at Christmas.  Plus I feel asleep before 9 last night.  

I’m staying here:

It is, even by the standards of one-bedroom apartments, very basic, and this is probably good; last night I watched a DVD of John Doyle’s 2008 production of Peter Grimes at the Met instead of whatever election campaign stuff was on telly.  I nodded off just after the Great Bear and Pleiades did their thing, but I’m sure it did me good.

Three Tear-Jerkers, and How to Do It Yourself!

Massenet wrote a bunch of operas, and he liked leitmotifs a lot, so much so that his fans say he out-Wagnered Wagner.  Despite all this hard work in long forms, his most famous (and beloved) composition is this pretty intermezzo from Thaïs:

There’s a melodic moment at about 0:45 in that video, and I recommend you try it for yourself:

  1. Establish the tonic major chord.
  2. Let the melody footle about a bit, in a rising fashion, until it hits the fifth degree of the scale.
  3. Drop an octave. You’re still on the fifth degree, but an octave lower.
  4. Go up a tone, to the sixth degree of the scale, and shift the chord underneath to the subdominant.

In Massenet’s case (D major, two sharps), it looks like this:

If I’m right to recommend this little melodic trick, there should be other examples from other composers who have tugged the heartstrings by this method, and raked in the cash. Ladies and gentlemen, Roger Whittaker’s The Last Farewell (1971, although it didn’t chart until 1975). Whittaker does it around the 0:32 mark, and even more clearly at 0:53

Furthermore, Stephen Sondheim’s only bona fide chart hit, as performed by Judy Collins, also happened in the Spring of 1975.  The two composers composed independently, but the hits occurred at the same time.  Mere coincidence?  The instrumental intro does the trick at 0:26, and the vocal version is at 0:54

Now that I see the timings on these videos, I have one more recommendation:

        5.  Do it early in the tune.  The end of bar 3 seems to be the sweet spot.

Why Orchestration Always Takes Longer Than You Think It Will

8:30am  I need to complete the percussion part for Act One Scene Seven, and then double-check the first part I wrote two weeks ago, for Act One Scene One.  Oh, and proof-read last night’s effort on Act Two Scene Two. 

8:45am  Is it too simple?  Do I need more counterpoint in the strings, or am I just worrying because these guys will be great players?  I’m giving them nothing but semibreves, but complex isn’t necessarily good, is it?  I hear a lot of modern operas with busy, busy parts and frankly, it just makes the lyrics harder to hear and understand.  I want to hear these words.

9am  Fourth coffee.

9:15am  Yeah, I should do big boxed rehearsal numbers, I really should.  The conductor will be glad of it; I know I would be.  Letters?  No, numbers, big boxed numbers.  How do I do those on Sibelius?  It’s been a while.

10am  Why aren’t the individual percussion parts displaying the names of the instruments?  I don’t want to put them on separate pages unless the percussionist asks me to.  At this stage it makes more sense to have all the instruments on one part.  Where are those bloody instrument names?

10:30am  Ah, crap, I made pdf files of those instruments without realising the title wasn’t at the top.  Why isn’t the title at the top?

11am  Must remember to change the melody in the original vocal score to match this fully orchestrated score.  The old melody sounded like I was quoting Bernstein, and I was, but not on purpose.

11:30am  This is good, because Act One Scene Seven is the longest thing in the world and it’s nearly done.  If I could finish by 2pm, I could duck out to Officeworks, print the whole thing off, and Express Post it after I pick the kids up from school.  Nah, there’s no way that’s gonna happen.  I could never finish by 2.

12:15pm  Yay! The part that requires me hear things is over, and now it’s all just visual formatting.  What cast recording to play?  Ragtime.

12:45pm  That bit in “Success” where J P Morgan introduces himself still sticks out like dog’s balls. 

1:45pm Should I print this off at home?  I’d use up all the toner.  Hmmm, it’s about $130 for a new toner cartridge, and about $85 to refill the existing one.  It’ll be cheaper at Officeworks, around 8 cents a sheet.  And they’ll have that really dark laser print.

1:54pm pdf files on flash drive.  Into the car, flash drive in hand.

2:10pm Two drab girls behind the printing desk at Officeworks ignore me.  A haze of cement dust is in the air from the nearby construction worker with the enormous grinder between his legs.  A sign reads, “We cannot take any new bookings, and cannot undertake any immediate printing tasks.  We are down to limited services between March 12 and 16.  We apologise for any inconvenience.”

2:25pm  Man at nearby Other Printing Place:  “We could print that, but I first need to work out how many pages it is.  Then we decode the data and send it to our machine.  It’ll print really quickly, but it’ll take about half an hour to work out how many pages it is.  Probably about 30 to 50 cents a sheet.  Leave your details.  You know, I’m not sure Officeworks would have been able to help you.”

2:50pm  Dude at Cartridge Refilling Place:  “What sort of paper have you been using?  ‘Cos look at this fluff stuck in here, that’s gonna makes your copies really shitty.  Yeah, I can have it done by 4.”

3:20pm  Take kids to Erindale, buy paper.  No, there are plenty of treats at home, you don’t need any now. 

3:50pm Ten minutes too early for refilled cartridge.  Alright, kids, you can have a drink.

4:01pm  Hand over $85.

4:10pm Same rule as always, guys.  Afternoon tea, then homework, then TV.  Now let me put this new cartridge in the printer.

4:13pm  Darker, dammit!  Darker!  Use that bloody toner, it cost enough, I want to see it on the page.

5:00pm  Well, too late to post anything today, but it looks good.

5:30pm  That’s half a ream of paper, and only 17 minutes of opera.  I can’t believe there are pussies who don’t print and collate their own individual instrument parts, and I’d join them gladly if I could find someone else to do it.


 9:30pm Oh, look at that.  I didn’t label the instruments when the oboe switches to alto sax for four bars.  I’ll fix it in the morning.

A Bit Like Removing My Shirt (Part Two)

These are some cabaret songs in progress.  I don’t know which one to finish first, so I leave it up to you, Gentle Reader.  If no-one responds I shall pretend that dozens of you did, and choose a song for myself.

1. An old man, on his deathbed, imparts this wisdom to his loved ones:

When I look back on my life,
I spent seventeen years of it
Looking for socks,
On my knees, under couches
Under couches, in boxes

If I had to do it over,
I’d spend more time on a beach in Ulladulla.
I’d buy more socks in one damn colour,
If I had to do it over …

(Sydneysiders may substitue Cronulla for the beach if they wish. International visitors should reflect on the fact that we’ve been adapting to your locales for decades, and deal with it.)

2. A song recounting a common male experience. Not me, of course, but others…

Stop apologising for your hair – it looks great
Stop saying you’re fat – in fifteen years,
we’ve all put on some weight
something something something
something something something ow
You were do-able then
And you’re do-able now

something something something ow
You remember that night
When we stayed out drinking?
And now, you wonder, what were we thinking?
I was thinking of doing you then,
And I’m thinking of doing you now.

3. You know how when you get dumped you discover how popular you were, but you were off limits, so you weren’t aware of it?  Come Back (So You Can Leave Me Again):

blah blah blah and then
My phone rang with invitations
From thirteen single men
Oh, come back
so you can leave me again

Doo-bee doo-bee something something ooh
And this time, if you’re lucky,
Maybe I’ll leave you

4. My Fundy Christian Girl

She likes to sing
Yes, she does
She likes to dance
All night long
She knows her mind.
You can tell
When she’s outside Family Planning screaming that you’re going to Hell
A wuh-uh-oh-woah-woah
She’s my fundy Christian girl

God says we gotta wait ’til we’re married
We wait and wait all week and then
We do it like bunnies on a Sunday,
Get forgiven and the cycle starts all over again.

My friends say that I must be crazy,
How can I stand to be so good?
Then she does all my cooking and my cleaning
Like her fundy books says a fundy woman should
A wuh-uh-oh-woah-woah etc.

And I will love her ’til the end of time
which she promises is coming soon …

5.  Cabaret shows often finish with ballads like Kander and Ebb’s My Own Space, a number that summarises the singer’s life philosophy with wry humour and truly staggering self-regard.  So this ballad is called Make Me Happy:

Everybody hungers for the secret
of love that burns forever, like an eternal first kiss.
And all the time, I think I’ve known the secret.
It’s simple, my darling, it’s this:

Make me happy.
Every time we wake,
let’s devote the day
to finding some new way
to make me happy.

You, you’re always saying you need a purpose,
and you do.
You, you need a purpose
and I need someone to

make me happy;
change your dreams to mine.
Make me happy, my love,
and we’ll be fine.

6.  There are , I believe, no cabaret songs about vasectomies.  So I’m going to write one, about mine.  It’s called An Apology (To My Balls).

Hey, guys
Now that we’re talking again,
Can I apologise?

You did one thing really well
You did one thing to perfection
You served your term, and then the firm
moved in a new direction

Hey, guys
Don’t see this as an ending
It’s an unexpected freedom you’ve found
And I’d still love you
to hang around …


Let the voting begin!