Saturday, 22 May 2010

The Ethiopian Mikado

RIP : The touched-by-genius, talented and no doubt slightly tyrannical Stefanos Lazaridis has passed away. This bold opera stage designer was born in Dire Dawa in Ethiopia, and educated in Addis Abbeba. Lazaridis is yet another talent that sprung from Ethiopia, it's in reading his obituary that I learnt his place of birth and study. Ethiopia is springing up in the most unlikely places, at least I would not have expected to find a link there.

I do not mean to be facitious - well not overly - with the following but as elections in Ethiopia are tomorrow, of sorts, I'd like to respectfully dedicate the above song ('As some day it may happen' also called the list song), from the Mikado opera for which Lazaridis famously designed, to a current African version of KoKo (the Lord High Executioner). I would like to ask : is it really what you wanted to turn into? Here are the original lyrics (some words may be offensive but bare in mind it was written in 1844/1845).


As some day it may happen that a victim must be found,
I've got a little list — I've got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground,
And who never would be missed — who never would be missed!
There's the pestilential nuisances who write for autographs —
All people who have flabby hands and irritating laughs —
All children who are up in dates, and floor you with 'em flat —
All persons who in shaking hands, shake hands with you like that —
And all third persons who on spoiling tête-á-têtes insist —
They'd none of 'em be missed — they'd none of 'em be missed!


He's got 'em on the list — he's got 'em on the list;
And they'll none of 'em be missed — they'll none of 'em be missed.


There's the nigger serenader, and the others of his race,
And the piano-organist — I've got him on the list!
And the people who eat peppermint and puff it in your face,
They never would be missed — they never would be missed!
Then the idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone,
All centuries but this, and every country but his own;
And the lady from the provinces, who dresses like a guy,
And who "doesn't think she dances, but would rather like to try";
And that singular anomaly, the lady novelist—
I don't think she'd be missed — I'm sure she'd not he missed!


He's got her on the list — he's got her on the list;
And I don't think she'll be missed — I'm sure she'll not be missed!


And that Nisi Prius nuisance, who just now is rather rife,
The Judicial humorist — I've got him on the list!
All funny fellows, comic men, and clowns of private life —
They'd none of 'em be missed — they'd none of 'em be missed.
And apologetic statesmen of a compromising kind,
Such as — What d'ye call him — Thing'em-bob, and likewise — Never-mind,
And 'St— 'st— 'st— and What's-his-name, and also You-know-who —
The task of filling up the blanks I'd rather leave to you.
But it really doesn't matter whom you put upon the list,
For they'd none of 'em be missed — they'd none of 'em be missed!

You may put 'em on the list — you may put 'em on the list;
And they'll none of 'em be missed — they'll none of 'em be missed!

Lazaridis designed for many operas: Carmen, the Marriage of Figaro, Tristan and Isolde (my first love actually, who needs a man to stage a love story, give me an opera!), Doktor Faustus, Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Hansel and Gretel, a lot more ..... and my favourite, as favourite's whims go : The Mikado.

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