Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Disclaimer: The following is a purely fictional recreation of what Richard Nixon and the Berlin Wall might have thought about tonight's performance of I Puritani. The views expressed by the Nixon, Ehrlichman, and Haldeman do not reflect the views of the blog-owner.
April 30, 2014, 12:46 AM, Air Force One:
Richard Nixon (R.N.): Well, Bob, John, I have to say, tonight, we really pulled it off. This will get the goddamned liberal media off our backs for good.
H.R. "Bob" Haldeman: Yes, sir, it certainly will. A great night for the presidency, yes, sir.
John Ehrlichman: Yes, it will please all those liberals for sure.
R.N.: To do what we did, you know, have a (inaudible) Soviet soprano, onstage, singing with an, an Afro-American tenor, and a Polack baritone, that's just, the New York Times never would have thought Richard Nixon could pull that off. And for the President of the United States to stand on that stage, and present the opera, it's like if I ... if I went to China or something.
Haldeman: (Laugh). And I already saw the presses. They said "NIXON UNITES WORLD ONSTAGE."
R.N.: Who said that, the Post?
Haldeman: Yes sir, the Post.
Ehlrichman: Well, goddamn.
R.N.: Bob, have any, uh, cabinet members called, saying they saw us on television, or anything? Have you gotten any, uh, reactions from them?
Haldeman: Well, not yet, but, you know, it's late ...
R.N.: Tomorrow, could you call around, to see, you know, how they felt about it? Whether they liked it?
Haldeman: Yes sir, tomorrow first thing in the morning.
R.N.: And I thought I Puritani really represented, you know, Anglo-Saxon values. Patriotism, love, loyalty, wholesomeness, there's none of that, you know, homosexual Jewish agenda onstage. The men and women were all dressed up decently, like upstanding people, and not half-naked. And we were sitting in a box but I didn't see any, you know, obvious homosexuals in the audience. I mean, one or two might have been, but I went to the men's restroom, and it was really clean in there.
And I thought that it would be, you know, strange, seeing a Soviet soprano kiss an Afro-American tenor, but they kept it really wholesome, I liked it.
John, what did you think?
Ehrlichman: Well, Mr. President, I thought that the music was lovely and all that but kind of boring. Slow love song, fast love song, slow patriotism duet, fast patriotism duet, slow girl is sad solo, fast girl is sad solo, and on and on. I mean, after the show I went up to Mariotti ...
R.N.: Who the hell is Mariotti?
Haldeman: The conductor, sir.
Ehrlichman: I said to him, "You know, Maestro, if you took that entire score, with all those sheets, and you threw them into the Hudson River, would anyone know or care?"
Haldeman: No, no, John, you're wrong there. The composer of the opera was a man by the name of Vincenzo Bellini and he's a very famous opera composer. And the way they sang, well, that's the style of the operas of Bellini. It's very specific and he composed them that way for a reason. It's called "bel canto."
Ehrlichman: Famous or not famous, it was boring. And that Soviet soprano, she's a dish and all, but she looked kind of empty-headed, and notice when she threw the veil into those fake candles, the poor baritone had to run across the stage to get the veil because it was so obviously fake candles ...
Haldeman: Speaking of her, Mr. President, Mitchell did call, he said he saw us on television, and he said ...
R.N.: What did he say? Did he say anything about my speech?
Haldeman: No, well, no he didn't say anything about your speech, but he did say something about the soprano.
R.N.: Nothing about my speech? Goddamn great cabinet we have here.
Haldeman: It's Mitchell. He said that the soprano when she sang her high notes ... she sounded like she had her titty in a big fat wringer.
Ehrlichman: (Laughs) So true.
Haldeman: The soprano was attractive, I agree.
Ehrlichman: Good thing we didn't take Kissinger. He would have wanted to discuss international affairs with her, for sure. (Laughs.)
Haldeman: She's married to the conductor.
R.N.: So nothing about my speech, goddamn.
Haldeman: But I think everyone thought the tenor Brownlee was good. He's such a little guy, but he can sure sing!
R.N.: I still think the picture of a Soviet soprano with an Afro-American tenor singing together, on the biggest stage in the United States, I mean, the magnificence of it! We won't talk about the Polack baritone, he was sick. What the hell is his name, anyway? I couldn't pronounce his name in the teleprompter, made me so goddamn annoyed.
Haldeman: Mariusz (M-A-R-I-U-S-Z) Kwiecien (K-W-E-I-C-I-E-N). Now don't ask me if I'm pronouncing it right, because I don't know myself.
Ehrlichman: I noticed how everyone's voice in the last act got bigger. I could barely hear them in the first act and then they're bawling into my ears in the last act?
R.N.: Could it be that they were miked?
Haldeman: No, no, opera houses are not miked. That's the difference between opera singers and, you know, rock-and-roll singers. Opera singers have to learn to project their voices without a mike.
Ehrlichman: So after the show I went up to that Gelb guy, and I said, "Say, Mr. Gelb, those voices sounded awfully ... BIG in the last act." And you know what he said to me?
R.N.: What'd he say?
Ehrlichman: He said to me, "Well, this is purely off the record, but here at the Met, everyone mikes everyone."
R.N. and Haldeman: (Laughs) Well, goddamn.