Saturday, August 18, 2007

Did You Ever Hear the One About...

Because I've been thinking about the late conductor of the Canadian Opera Company all day, I decided some high brow humor was in order. Richard Bradshaw was such an ebullient man, I'm sure he must have told a few of these himself over the years.

What's the difference between a soprano and a terrorist?

You can negotiate with a terrorist.

Ten tenors and a baritone were clinging precariously to a wildly swinging rope suspended from a crumbling outcropping on Mount Everest. Grasping the rope as tightly as they could, as a group they realized they couldn't all hold on much longer; they decided that one of the party would have to let go. If that didn't happen, the rope would break under their combined weight, and they would all perish. For an agonizing few moments no-one volunteered. Finally the baritone gave a truly touching speech saying he would sacrifice himself to save the lives of the others. The tenors were so moved, they all applauded...

- LeAnna White,

Opera is when a guy gets stabbed in the back, and instead of bleeding, he sings.

Fred and George, two bass players, get a night off and decide to go hear another orchestra play Beethoven's 9th Symphony. Unfortunately, the bass section of that orchestra has been out partying, and they are very drunk. In the 1st movement, one of them falls over in an alcoholic stupor. In the 2nd movement, one passes out, and in the 3rd movement, another bites the dust. At then beginning of the last movement, just before the famous bass recitative, Fred has had enough and says: "This is ridiculous, I'm going home!" . . . and George says, "Are you kidding? We can't leave now! It's the last of the 9th, the basses are loaded and there are three men down!"

This guy says to his wife, "Oh, baby. I can play you just like a violin."

His wife says, "But I'd rather have you play me like a harmonica."

From a Glossary of Musical Terms:

METRONOME: A dwarf who lives in the city

A Musician's Guide To Keeping Conductors in Line

1. Never be satisfied with the tuning note.
2. Look the other way just before cues.
3. Never have the proper mute, a spare set of strings, or extra reeds.
4. Pluck the strings as if you are checking tuning at every opportunity, especially when the conductor is giving instructions.
5. Percussionists have a wide variety of dropable items, but cymbals are unquestionably the best because they roll around for several seconds.
6. Loudly blow water from the keys during pauses (Horn, oboe and clarinet players are trained to do this from birth).
7. When rehearsing a difficult passage, screw up your face and shake your head indicating that you'll never be able to play it. Don't say anything: make him wonder.
8. If your articulation differs from that of others playing the same phrase, stick to your guns. Do not ask the conductor which is correct until backstage just before the concert.
9. Find an excuse to leave rehearsal about 15 minutes early so that others will become restless and start to pack up and fidget.
10. During applause, smile weakly or show no expression at all. Better yet, nonchalantly put away your instrument.

- Donn Laurence Mills

Maestro (to Horns): "Give us the F in tune!"

Violist (to Maestro): "Please can we have the Effing tune too?"

From an Edmonton Centre newsletter, program notes from a piano recital:

Tonight's page turner, Ruth Spelke, studied under Ivan Schmertnick at the Boris Nitsky School of Page Turning in Philadelphia. She has been turning pages here and abroad for many years for some of the world's leading pianists.

In 1988, Ms. Spelke won the Wilson Page Turning Scholarship, which sent her to Israel to study page turning from left to right. She is winner of the 1984 Rimsky Korsakov Flight of the Bumblebee Prestissimo Medal, having turned 47 pages in an unprecedented 32 seconds. She was also a 1983 silver medalist at the Klutz Musical Page Pickup Competition: contestants retrieve and rearrange a musical score dropped from a Yamaha. Ms. Spelke excelled in "grace, swiftness, and especially poise."

For techniques, Ms. Spelke performs both the finger-licking and the bent-page corner methods. She works from a standard left bench position, and is the originator of the dipped-elbow page snatch, a style used to avoid obscuring the pianist's view of the music. She is page turner in residence in Fairfield Iowa, where she occupies the coveted Alfred Hitchcock Chair at the Fairfield Page Turning Institute.

How many conductors does it take to change a light bulb?

One, but, then again, who's really watching?

What is "perfect pitch?"

When you lob a clarinet into a toilet without hitting the rim.

Two musicians are walking down the street, and one says to the other, "Who was that piccolo I saw you with last night?"

The other replies, "That was no piccolo, that was my fife."

Never look at the trombones; it only encourages them.

- Richard Strauss

And what humorous look at opera would be complete without a link to What's Opera Doc? ?

Or The Rabbit of Seville ?



Akelamalu said...


I loved them all but especially

Two musicians are walking down the street, and one says to the other, "Who was that piccolo I saw you with last night?"

The other replies, "That was no piccolo, that was my fife

Ann Aguirre said...

I like the harmonica one. :D

Sans Pantaloons said...

Thank you Julia! I have great admiration for those with musical talent such as perfect pitch.

Robotface Shumway said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I thought I'd return the favor. I don't consider myself to be too highbrow (I'm more like a lower-medium-brow kind of guy), but I LOVED these jokes.

Dale said...

Hilarious, and who says opera isn't funny? I especially enjoyed ...instead of bleeding, he sings.