the schmooze

Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

Someone once said, “Operas are for cultured people with refined aesthetic taste.  They are subsidized.  Musicals are song and dance for the rest of us, and are not.”

There’s a story about a young  woman (“yung froy”)  who had plagued the renowned pianist, Arthur Rubinstein, to give her an audition.  Finally, in hope of getting rid of her once and for all, he called her into his studio.

“Oh, if only you would consent (“maskim zayn”) to be my teacher, I know I could become a great concert pianist,” she said.

“Very well,” said Rubinstein, “I will listen to you.  Please be seated at the piano (“pyane”).

For a half hour the poor man listened in silent torture (“paynikung”) as the woman played.  Her notes sounded as though she were hitting the keys with an umbrella (“shirem”) handle.

When the woman finished her “concert,” she turned to Rubinstein and asked, “Well, what do you think?”

“I think, Madam,” he said wearily, “that you should get married (‘khasene gehat’).”

Then there’s the story about a girl who desperately hoped to become an opera star.  Although she had a superb voice (“shtime”), she was unable to make the grade.

Being half Spanish and half Jewish, she could never remember whether she was Carmen or goyim!

An untutored but wealthy (“raykh”) merchant who yearned to be known as a cultured gentleman (“dzhentlman”), arrived late at the concert one evening because his wife had taken so long to dress.

The concert had already started when they entered the hall and the husband asked the usher what part of the program was being played.

“They are playing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony,” whispered the usher.

“It’s all your fault,” the husband complained to his wife as they took their seats.  “If you hadn’t taken almost two hours to dress, we wouldn’t have missed the first four.”

Playwright George S. Kaufman sent the following telegram to William Gaxton, an actor performing in Kaufman’s play, “Of Thee I Sing”:  “I am watching your performance from the rear of the house.  Wish you were here.”

Malke Meyerson had always wanted to sing (“zingen”) opera, and now that the children (“der kinder”) were grown and she had a little money to spare she went to a voice teacher.

The teacher seated himself at the piano.  “I’ll play a few bars and you can accompany me,” he said.  “Then I’ll be able to judge (“paskenen”) whether you have any talent.”

Smiling, Malke agreed, and the teacher began to play an aria from Aida.  But with her first note the musician shuddered.  She emitted a screech, her voice broke on middle notes and almost shattered the windows on the highs.  When he played “re” she sang “mi.”  When he hit “fa” she bellowed “so.”

Finally, he could stand it no longer.  “Mrs. Meyerson,” he said slowly (“pamelekh”),”why is it that when I play the white notes you sing the black keys; when I play the black keys you sing the white keys; and when I play  both, you sing the cracks?”

A fat (“zaftik”) middle-aged Malke was boasting to her next-door neighbor (“shokhn”) about her earlier musical achievements.  “When I was a girl,” she said, “I not only sang at the Metropolitan Opera House but I was the most beautiful diva they ever had.”

“You sang at the Met?” echoed the neighbor suspiciously. “What was the aria?”

“How do I know?” retorted Malke.  “What am I, an architect?”

  Source:  “Encyclopedia of Jewish Humor - From Biblical Times To The Modern Age” by Henry D. Spalding.
  Note:  The Yiddish has been added.

The Metropolitan Opera opened its 2016-17 season (“sezon”) on Sept. 26, with a new production of Tristan und Isolde.  Simon Rattle  courted a small bit of controversy by deciding to cut some 9 minutes in the Act II love duet.

F-a-s-t  forward to 2016.  Mike Pence, VP elect, attended a performance of the megahit, “Hamilton.”  Actor Brandon Victor Dixon had a “war of words” as he addressed Pence from the stage.  He called on the new administration to work on behalf of all Americans. 

As Pence began  to walk up the aisle at the end, Dixon said, “I see you walking out, but I hope you hear just a few more moments…There’s nothing to boo.  We’re all here sharing a story of love.  We have a message for you, sir, we hope that you will hear us out.”

“We, sir—we—are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious (“umruik”) that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir.  But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us.”

He concluded by saying, “Thank you (‘a dank’) truly for seeing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men, women of different colors,  creeds and orientations.”

Trump tweeted, accusing the cast of being “very rude last night to a very good man.”  Dixon responded directly to Trump, tweeting, “Conversation is not harassment, sir.”

BTW, Mike Pence once suggested that if school teachers are so smart, they should earn extra cash on Jeopardy! rather than grubbing for more taxpayer money.  And, as a congressman, he voted to defund NASA because of all the aborted missions.

And, finally, “tweet seats” for the itchy fingered are being sold by the Boston Lyric Opera. Bella Irdmusa, communications manager at Boston Lyric said, “Our main audience is older, white women in general.  We’re trying to broaden that.” So, they first tried tweet seats for the opera “Carmen” in September, 2016.  The buzz created online by the tweeters led to a significantly younger (“yinger”)-than- usual crowd during the run of the show. 

Some say, “LOL what a hilarious idea.”  Margaret Cabaniss asks, “Can we not just sit and listen anymore?”

The Boston Symphony Orchestra is launching a table app, with information about performances and will allow patrons to bring their iPads to certain shows.

“A SOF, AN EK!”  (That’s enough—stop it!)


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Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

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