In an effort to promote our first ever concert in Rome, our record company programmed another act to appear in the first half of the concert. We were told that the performer was a ‘well-known singer of Neapolitan folk songs’, and that it offered a good foil to what we had to offer. However, when we approached the theatre towards the end of the first half, we could feel the ground shaking to some very loud pop music coming from somewhere. It became clear that this very loud pop music was in fact the ‘singer of Neapolitan folk songs’ with whom we were sharing the bill. The audience was thoughtfully provided with a 40-minute interval, including bar. When we took the stage, complete with bow ties and frilly shirts, and launched into ‘Now is the month of maying’, there were a few seconds of absolute, Chianti-drenched silence, before the audience roared their disapproval and disbelief. On stage, we had a quick discussion about the advisability of beating a tactical retreat. From the depths of the theatre, some supportive souls tried to help, muttering “Shhh” and “I say, do shut up will you!”. We battled on, some of the crowd left, others maybe grew hoarse or fell asleep. Perhaps some were even won over by the close harmony arrangements, and in the end we managed to sing the full programme we had intended.
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