Special guest post by The Angry Baritone
Max Tenor, self-acclaimed heldentenor and all-round gift to vocal acrobatics, was recently double cast as the romantic lead in Opera Shoebox’s production of Bastiene und Bastienne, directed by the artist formerly known as Codetta.
“As a talented tenor in the local area, I was very excited for the rest of the cast to meet me and for them to experience my knowledge of the accents and rests in the score,” he explained. “Also, having spent two weeks in Germany four years ago, it was fortunate for the company that a fluent speaker was around. I’ll try my best not to give subtle looks at other cast members when someone, undoubtably, gets it wrong; that’s what all my passive-aggressive comments will be for.”
Max was disappointed to hear his fellow double-castee, Min Him. “I mean, he’s got a beautiful tone, a large voice, an ease of legato and he’s really attractive,” said Max, “but it’s clear to me, a younger and more scholarly student from the University of Music ranked number forty-one in Music Magazine, that he does not know how to use his instrument.” Max continued to explain that he feels you should always leave the audience wanting more, rather than giving them what they paid for.
Min Him spent a few weeks standing by the piano and singing the music correctly, which was often followed by praise from the conductor, Anne Dantay, and also the rest of the cast, and most of the stage crew as well. “I like having this job, and that is why I plan to do this job,” he explained. “That is my job.”
Rehearsals flew past in the chapelsitzproben rehearsal room, and Max soon revealed that he had a dizzying array of highly expressive huffs, snorts, and long expository mutterings, mostly centred on the variety of ways that Min Him was not as good as Jonas Kauffmann. “Why doesn’t everybody notice that? It’s as if all they can see are the qualities he has.”
In the lead up to the first show, we asked other cast members what they thought of the two singers. “Min Hin is doing a great job,” said Rob Rubato, the director.
Max was happy to agree, at least in part. “Min Him might be doing a good job, but I am way better at seeming like I am doing a good job,” he said. “Wasn’t that what my Masters degree was for?”
Following the sixty-eighth show in The Walthamstow Park Fun Palace, London’s cheapest and most invisible location, the great critic Mel Canto published her review of the production. It read: “Min Him’s portrayal of Bastienne was truly spectacular.” Max had a great variety of explanations as to why this might be the case: “People don’t realise that I don’t have a good enough agent, so my talents aren’t heard by the right audience,” he said. “It’s all about getting your voice out there. Somewhere.”