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    2008-2009 reviews:
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    Opera for Dummies

    The faux lady sings

    Opera can be a drag but it doesn't have to be a mystery, as Juilliard-trained Shequida and some special guests explain it all for you in the campy but instructive "Opera for Dummies."


    Shequida is a Soprano with a capital "S," but instead of whacking goombas in the Pine Barrens, she rules the stage Monday nights at the Westbeth, with a show that takes the stuffiness out of opera. A drag performer with a five-octave, Juilliard-trained voice, Shequida both spoofs and celebrates the genre that is more famously seen at the Met.

    Written and performed by: Shequida.

    Related links: Official site
    She begins the show in glamorous regalia — wearing a shimmery gown trimmed in black feathers and sporting a Brunhilde helmet as she tells the audience a brief history of opera, stating that operas began in the 1600s — "around the time Lady Bunny was born," she quips. Then we're treated to some Handel, an aria that translates literally into "Goodbye Our Little Table" (replete with table) and a video duet via satellite from Jamaica (well, not exactly) with her brother Hequida.

    Joined by the very handsome tenor Chan Harris, they explain the three basic emotions of opera (happiness, fear and sadness) and Shequida tells the audience how sopranos need to know the opera cry, opera cough and opera laugh. Harris regales the crowd with some Bel Canto singing, then Shequida appears with a big flower behind her ear, working a fan, and they duet with a bit from Carmen. There's more costume changes from Shequida (whom you may have seen on "One Life To Live" as bartender Wendi Mercury), a video appearance from Montserrat Caballe (well, not exactly), and riffing about how many operas take too long.

    Unfortunately, the violin was flat during the performance we saw, but regardless, this is a fun, lighthearted show that opera lovers with a ticklable funny bone will get a kick out of and anyone who appreciates a diva will dig. Brava!

    MAY 15, 2001

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