Sunday, June 07, 2009

Pawstaff at Glyndebourne...

Questions are being asked. So, after much consideration, I have decided to come clean and tell you about my new starring role in Falstaff at Glyndebourne.

If you attend, you will see a ginger and white cat curled up on the bar in The Garter (well, where else would you expect me to be?), responding happily to Falstaff's expert ear-tickling, biting Pistol and somehow restraining itself from helping itself to toad-in-the-hole pub grub. It is not electronic. It is not a glove puppet. It is not "animatronic" (whatever that means). No, no. It is ME. You can just glimpse me in this photo, behind Pistol's shoulder on the extreme left.

And in act III, I am in the window, watching the antics from a position of perspective that only a cat can take. We don't count the large grey windowseat cat in act II, of course - that one just isn't realistic...

The question I am being asked, mainly by my chief-of-staff, is: how do you do it? "How can it be that when we set off for Sussex, you, dear Solti, are on the bed in the land of nod, and when we return many hours later, you're waiting at the door, meowing as if you've never seen a bowl of Iams before? If that is truly you, how come you get home before us?"

Ah, CoS, what you haven't yet seen is my private helicopter. If you ever bother to look up from your computer screen, you might have a little surprise.

The minute you and Sir Tom are out the door, I spring into action. I clean my fur and whiskers, brush up my tail-suit and prepare to pounce into the 'copter awaiting overhead (and there was you thinking that the noise came merely from living under the flight path! teeheeheee). We whizz to the South Downs in a trice, landing safely on the Glyndebourne estate beside the alpacas and the dromedary where Gus greets me in person and the beautiful Danni presents me with a bowl of the finest organic double cream. Darling Richard gives me my notes from the previous show and makes sure I am happy with all my moves, and Vladimir never fails to offer his congratulations and words of zen-like wisdom.

I am then escorted to my dressing room, in which my contract stipulates that I require the following:

1. A platter of fish;
2. A sheepskin cushion on the couch;
3. A fresh rose for me to take home to my lady cat pal, Scarlett the long-haired tabby (a gorgeous girl, you hear me?)

Do I suffer from nerves, you ask? My dears, one must suffer for one's art. Sometimes I let off a little steam by offering to go on mouse patrol in the house and kitchens.

And sometimes one must do without thanks. There's no curtain call for me, although Christopher Purves, Dina Kuznetsova and Adriana Kucerova are pelted with cheers, whistles and stamping. Ah, er, no, said the powers that be: we have to pretend that you are a mechanical cat, otherwise we might be accused of politically incorrect cat-training! I pretend very well: only one critic bothered to mention - specifically and pointedly - that I am ginger. I think she guessed the truth. See line #5 of her review.

The upside is that I can leave early. While my dear colleagues are singing their socks off in that mad fugue, I am being flown home in luxury; there is plenty of time to give my beloved Scarlett her rose and have a goodnight nose-nudge before I slink in through the catflap and go back to being...well, Solti. Who else?