September 2, 2010
Pagliacci on Coney Island: the high-low art of Mercury Opera
Parada held a competition for singers, and planned to stage the production in a tent on the Thor Equities lot on Coney Island. But a reduction in the number of seats she was allowed made the production financially untenable. After first considering cancelling the show, Parada thought of the Coney Island Side Show building on Surf Avenue and 12th Street, the original inspiration for her Pagliacci. Miraculously, despite the Side Show's busy summer schedule, its owner granted Parada use of the facility for one night only. Meanwhile, the tenor who had won the competition dropped out, the conductor walked out, and another singer was dragging the cast down by his lack of preparation.
Somehow, the persuasive and plucky Parada managed to lure two top-notch performers to fly out from Phoenix and Niagara Falls to fill in, and Boris, her husband, did a superb job in the role of Beppe.
The event was a giant hit with the packed audience. Parada envisions Pagliacci becoming like a Cirque du Soleil production or a traveling Broadway show, constantly in production somewhere in the world. At the moment, she's in conversation with the Coney Island Side Show about doing an actual run there.
The last item in the evening’s program fittingly captured the miracuous quality of the evening. It was a quote from Tom Stoppard’s Shakespeare in Love: “….Allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster. So what do we do? Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well. How? I don’t know. It’s a mystery.”
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