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THE WONDROUS TALE OF FANFERLIZZY SUNNYFEET
BY KURT SCHERTSIK
2000

A comic horror avant garde German opera for children that tells the story of the land of Scandalia. Muesli, strange goat women, witches, bucks and flying castles all come into it, but quite how or why, I'm not really sure.


Produced by Broomhill Opera at Wiltons Music Hall in the East End of London, this was the first and as yet, only, opera I have done. Most likely, it will be the last too as I am not a singer, never was and probably never will be. I was asked by the designer/director, Netia Jones, to take the part of Pumpelirio Hobblebuck and she explained to me that there wasn't much singing to be done and what there was could be sung through a megaphone. This was true and so I said, sure, why not. She didn't say then that my costume would be just a pair of underpants and that I'd spend most of the show hiding beneath the stage in the freezing cold. Oh.

The show looked awesome. The costumes were designed by Red or Dead's Wayne Hemingway with the help of local school children and they were as crazy as you can imagine. Romper suited politicians, Pucci-clad disco birds, ambitious princes in Ali G style shell suits, the absolute lot. The set was these white ramps that went up towards the back up from which would grow vines and strange hands, and the auditorium was carpeted in astro-turf. I just wore a couple of pairs of BHS Y-fronts and for my big fight I had antlers made from TV aerials. Marvellous. The kids loved it. They howled at all the comedy and especially loudly when I made my appearances as most of the time I sang my lines through a trap door in the stage.

The whole experience of being in an opera was just brilliant. I learned so much in rehearsals from the conductor, Charles Powell, and the wonderful singers around me. I found out I am a Bass Baritone and I hope that's good. I did manage to sing all the right notes in the end, some of the time even in the right order. The story of the opera is very confusing, but as Netia is an amazing director she made it work. I see everything she does as her visual sense is just fabulous which it has to be when everything else is so bizarre. The show ended with a great big dance routine, choreographed by Terry John Bates and that was fantastic too - very Busby Berkeley. But the best thing about Fanferlizzy was performing at Wilton's. It's the oldest surviving Music Hall in the world and if you ever get the chance to see anything there, you must go. The atmosphere in the building is great and all the fittings are original.

Terrific place. But wear more than just your pants is my advice.