All About Steve

Avery Fisher Hall. Night.

The Richard Tucker Award is perhaps unknown to you. It has been spared the sensational and commercial publicity that attends such questionable "honors" as the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and those awards presented annually by that British music rag. The roly-poly gentleman you see onstage is a tenor who is not Richard Tucker. What he is singing is not important, least of all, perhaps, to himself. However, it is important that you know where you are, and why you are here. This is Avery Fisher Hall. The occasion is the annual presentation of the Richard Tucker Award, which honors the newest stars of the opera world. And no brighter star has ever dazzled the eye than Steve Carrington. Steve. But more about Steve, later. All about Steve, in fact.

To those of you who do not read, attend the opera, listen to the Met broadcasts, participate in opera-l, or frequent public restrooms � it is perhaps necessary to introduce myself. My name is Dr. Repertoire. My native habitat is the Opera World � in it I toil not, neither do I spin. I am a critic, commentator, and writer for parterre box. I am as essential to opera as leather trenchcoats are to Harry Kupfer.

This is Sharon Pritchard. She is the wife of a conductor. Yes, some of them are straight. Nothing in her background or breeding should have brought her any closer to the opera stage than Grand Tier, Row C. However, during her senior year at Radcliffe, Boyd Pritchard gave a lecture on Baroque ornamentation entitled "Cheap Trills." In spite of that, the following year, Sharon became Mrs. Boyd Pritchard. Boyd is the conductor of the performance that won Steve Carrington the Richard Tucker award.

Marco Manning is a star of the opera. He made his debut at the age of five as the Child in Wozzeck, in which he entered the stage for the "Hop-Hop" scene stark naked. He has been a star ever since. Marco is a counter-tenor. A true counter-tenor. He never was or will be anything less or anything else.

But look, there he is: Steve. Steve, the golden boy. The boy on the moon. The boy on those big cardboard stand-up displays at Tower Records. Opera has been good to Steve; Genre goes where he goes. You all know about Steve... what can there be to know that you don�t know?

Sharon�s voice: When was it? How long? It seems a lifetime ago. I remember it was after a truly demented performance, as Marco would say... Where was he? Strange...I had become so accustomed to seeing him there night after night----I found myself looking for a boy I�d never spoken to, wondering where he was...

Steve: Mrs. Pritchard...I hope you don�t mind me speaking to you...

Sharon: A conductor�s wife? I�m the rarest fish...

Steve: You�re Marco Manning�s fag hag...Oops, best friend.

Sharon: I see you at all of Marco�s performances. Don�t you find it expensive?

Steve: Standing room doesn�t cost much. Sometimes I can even make a little money up there, too.

Sharon: I�m going to take you to Marco...

Steve: No, I�d be imposing on him. Look at me. I�m a mess.

Sharon: You look just the way. What�s your name?

Steve: Steve. Steve Carrington.

Sharon opens the stage door.

Steve: You can breathe it�can�t you? Like some magic perfume...

Sharon: Hey, put away the poppers, okay?

Marco�s Voice: [from inside the dressing room] So this lady reporter from Gramophone says to me, "A countertenor? Isn�t that just another name for a mezzo, except with more balls?" And I tell her, "The last thing a mezzo needs is more balls�"

Sharon: Marco, I hate to interrupt the good dish, but I have someone I want you to meet. He�s been waiting outside after every performance...

Marco: Ugh, not another autograph fiend! They�re nobody�s fans! They�re juvenile delinquents, mental defectives, Fleming Flappers!

Sharon: Marco, you�ve got to see him, he worships you, it�s like something out of an opera performance...

Boyd: That performance is not historically informed.

Sharon: You must have spotted him by now, he�s always there...

Marco: Bad 80s hair-don�t? In need of a good moisturizer? How could I miss him? Every performance! Wait a minute � he�s not straight, is he?

Steve comes in.

Steve: I thought you�d forgotten about me.

Sharon: Not at all. Marco, this is Steve Carrington.

Marco: Hey, Bud, how's it hanging? This is my hairdresser and makeup artist extraordinaire, Bertie Gomez.

Bertie: Ai! Suddenly more butch than Kevin Spacey you are acting!

Sharon: I was telling Marco and Boyd about how often you�d seen the opera...

Steve: You�re conducting Mr. Manning�s next opera, aren�t you, Mr. Pritchard. I like the title: I passi sul soffitto.

Sharon: Why don�t you tell us the whole story, Steve?

Steve: It all started back home. Texas, that is. When I was a kid I heard an opera on Saturday on the radio. What it was, isn�t important. But I dreamed of seeing an opera or at maybe even being an opera singer myself some day. My middle school did Amahl and the Night Visitors; it was like a drop of rain in the desert. I sang Amahl. I was dreadful. One day, I logged on to an opera chat room. There�s where I met Freddie. He was so knowledgeable. He lived in San Francisco. I decided I would run away from home and go live with him. I went to the address Freddie had given me to mail my pictures. I knocked, and knocked, but he wasn�t there. And then I received an email. The email that told me Freddie was gone. That he was never coming back. That he was married to a lesbian mezzo-soprano. I had nowhere else to go, so I stayed in San Francisco. And one night, Marco Manning came to town in La Rimembranza and I went to see it. And, well, here I am..�

Bertie: What a story! Everything but the bloodhounds snapping at his culo!

Marco: Let�s leave Steve�s culo out of this, Bertie. For now, anyway.

Will Crampton: [entering] Forty-seven minutes from now my plane takes off and how do I find you? Not ready yet, looking like a John Conklin set. Muti is impatent, he wants me, he needs me!

Marco: Muti, Muti, Muti! What are you two---lovers? [leaves to get dressed]

Steve: Mr. Crampton, you�re going to La Scala? You mustn�t stay there.

Will: It�s only one opera at the end of the season.

Steve: No coloratura, no cuts, no high notes ...that�s not opera...

Will: Opera! The bushwah you hear about opera! The Met, Bayreuth, Broadway, Mozart at Salzburg, Splash on Thursday night -- all opera. Wherever there�s magic, make-believe, and music --- there�s opera. Jeanette MacDonald, Catherine Malfitano and Monteverdi. Lauritz Melchior and Hedda Lettuce. Tori Amos and John Adams. You don�t understand them all, you don�t like them all... It may not be your idea of Opera, but it�s Opera for somebody, somewhere...

Steve: I just asked a simple question.

Will: I�ll bet you read Martin Bernheimer.

Steve: Every week.

Will: And Dr. Repertoire?

Steve: Every day.

Will: And Opera News?

Steve: Not if I can help it..

Marco and Bertie come back in.

Will: Got any messages? What do you want me to tell Jose Cura?

Bertie: Just give him my chatroom handle. I�ll tell him myself.

Marco�s voice: That same night we went to pick up Steve�s things at Port Authority -- his few pitiful possessions. The next three weeks were out of an opera buffa -- and I was the one singing "Non piu mesta." Steve become my sister, accompanist, friend, psychiatrist, cop, construction worker, Indian, leatherman� the honeymoon was on.

to be continued...