Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Sydney Opera House

Things I like about Sydney No. 22: The Sydney Opera House

So many people have written about the iconic Sydney Opera House ("to date one of the most famous and acclaimed music venues in the world") that until now I didn't feel I could add anything to the babble of voices. Or pictures. John Utzon's website (Utzon is the Opera House's architect) points out that many thousands of pictures are taken of the Opera House each year, probably each day. Whenever Daniel and I go along to Circular Quay there are teems of tourists posing with it as the backdrop. Somewhat like this:

Here I am, New Year's Eve 2008, still reeling from the fact that I have re-located half way across the world - it is merely a month since our arrival in Sydney. I have a plastic lei round my neck because we were lucky enough to get tickets to a VIP area for the fireworks and, obviously, that's what VIPs wear. The sky is pink because our camera was malfunctioning. I'm pink because I was a) sunburnt and b) a little drunk. My glassy-eyed expression was permanent at that time, drunk or not. (Utzon had died less than a month before this and the paper's were full of his demise and the fact that he had not been involved in the completion of the building because of various recriminations and ridiculously imposed budget cuts.)

Fast forward to May 2010, nearly a year and a half after our arrival here, and here I am again.

The thing that may strike you first is that I'm pink once more. But this time I am neither sunburnt nor drunk. Oh no! I'm bathed in the soothing glow of the Opera House's spotlights, performing on the studio's stage last Saturday with Natalie Gamsu in something called Late Night Lounge (a sort of cabaret compendium of, and I'm quoting here, top talent). "Your neo-classical, rock ‘n’ roll, variety, cabaret, chat show experience!"

It was a sell-out naturally. Mainly I'm sure because the audience were promised (and got) full-frontal nudity. It wasn't provided by either of us though. Here's Natalie to prove it at the moment in our performance when she's being beamed up into outer space on waves of audience adoration:

I would like to point out that, not only were we making our Opera House debut but we were also performing two of my songs, along with a marvellous cover of Britney Spears's Hit Me Baby One My Time with which we opened. The entire show. Which unfortunately meant that the first thing I did on the Opera House stage after playing just three chords on the piano was to slap my arse and scream into a microphone....My youthful dream of standing in front of a full orchestra ready to play the Nielsen Clarinet Concerto on the Sydney Opera House stage didn't quite work out as planned. But I am more than grateful it didn't, this was much more fun.

Daniel took these illicit shots with his iphone which is obligatory gig behaviour. I can't understand why the two people in the audience in the photo of me are looking at Natalie rather than over towards me. I had a new jacket on as well. Next time I'll wear lycra too, that should nail 'em.

The nudity was provided much later by Ursula Martinez doing her striptease magic act which I last saw about ten years ago with Daniel in the Vauxhall Tavern in London at a Duckie event...Which is very bizarre in itself....Backstage in the dressing room Ursula seemed rather keen to know how I managed to settle here as she now has an Australian girlfriend. I wonder if I can flog her my residence visa...

There was also a man (a rather well-known singer apparently) called Iota backstage, waiting to go on after us. Having no surname is obviously de rigeur these days, but having a first name like Iota? I obviously need to change Jonathan Cooper to Pixel or Jot or Spitlickle. Also on the bill was a drag artist called Trevor - Natalie and I have played for him at his weekly cabaret nights - whose personality is as overwhelming as his dresses.

I'm so sad, I stole my performer's day pass instead of returning it to the stage door. But it serves them right because my name wasn't at the door anyway. Natalie had to persuade them that I was indeed an artist as security were in a very feisty mood as both the Prime Minister and the State Premiere were knocking about the Opera House having welcomed round-the-world sailor Jessica Watson back to Sydney (a story which I don't think will have impinged on anyone's consciousness outside of Australia). How dare they?! Next time, they better KNOW who I am!

I'm Pixel.

Or is it Jot?

Or perhaps Spitlickle?


  1. Why Neilsen's clarinet concerto - why not Stravinsky's 3 pieces for clarinet solo? I have somewhere a tape cassette recording taken from your BBC Radio 3 broadcast. A lot of water has passed under Beencke's bridge since then.

  2. Clearly you two were the standouts of the evening and I guess there was no video or we would be seeing it. I know it was hilarious and touching as well as I know you to be.
    I am always on your virtual guest list so do keep me living vicariously through your blog and posts.
    Much love, your Amsterdam #1 fan, Amber

  3. Why doesn't the blogger tell me when you've posted? I have only just seen this. Surely they could not have failed to recognise how fabulous you are, AND a published composer to boot. Perhaps you should have worn your VIPs lei, perhaps they somehow mistook you for the local greengrocer...'. In any case, they should be made to apologise on a piece of headed note paper and give you free VIP seats to Salome. xx