Limited overtures in the world's first opera about cricket

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The Independent Online
THE OPERA reviewer of the Spectator, Rupert Christiansen, had these challenging words to say the other day: 'I like opera; I do not like cricket. I understand the rules, I wish cricket well, I am happy for cricket aficionados, but I just do not want to know about it. My loss, I dare say, but there it is.'

By an amazing chance I happen to have in my possession the means to solve his problem. It is the draft of the world's first opera about cricket, which I have been working on recently in great secrecy. It is to be called Madam Butterfingers.

THE action opens on a small county cricket ground, totally deserted except for a county cricket match in full swing. In the nearly empty main stand there is an assignation between George, the captain of the batting side, and Marguerite, daughter of the chief England cricket selector.

George: Darling, you know it is my dearest dream to go on a tour of India.

Marguerite: How wonderful] Let us buy the tickets and go]

George: You don't understand, dearest. I wish to be chosen to lead the England team touring India.

Marguerite: You mean - you would rather go on holiday with 22 beer-swilling cricketers than your own darling Marguerite?

George: It would be my big chance, dearest, and make all the difference to both our lives. Could you not just have a word with your father?

Marguerite: Ssh - here he comes now.

Enter Sir Roland, Marguerite's father and head of the England selectors. He sings.

I have a scheme

I have a dream

I have a plan to pick

A well-balanced team.

But where are the players?

Where are the men?

Where are the chaps we had

Way back when?

A chap who keeps wicket,

And bats a bit as well,

Would be just the ticket,

But can I find him? Can I hell]

Oh, I have a dream . . .

Marguerite: Father]

Sir Roland: My dear girl] What brings you here?

Marguerite: Father, I want you to meet George. George plays cricket. He is very good.

Sir Roland: Hmm, But he doesn't shave very well, does he? Tell your friend I'll be prepared to meet him when he's got rid of that dreadful stubble.

Exit Sir Roland, singing.

I have a scheme

I have a plan

To acclimatise our players

To poppadom and nan,

I'm in a rush, I'm in a hurry

To take some men to India

Who don't mind eating curry]

The scene shifts to the Lord's Tavern, where the chorus of Middle-

Order Batsmen are morosely waiting for the announcement of the team to tour India. They wave their pints and sing.

Dead bat, steady line,

On a length, doing fine,

Single here, single there,

Never hitting in the air.

Accumulate a steady score,

All in singles, never four.

Bat and pad, out together,

Thick or thin, whate'er the weather,

Come wind or snow, rain or shine,

Steady length, on a line . . .

Enter George, shiny-faced and


George: Hello, lads] Any news of the team for India yet?

Albert (a sullen middle-order batsman): Fat chance of you getting in, boy. We don't want flashy batsmen with chancy techniques and public school curls here. We want solid, reliable players.

Opera suspended because of bad light. Will George curry favour with Sir Roland and be chosen to lead the England tour of India? Find out