19 May 2016, Berlin

After 2 1/2 Months of sometimes seemingly comical missteps, Episode 2 of Dot and the Kangaroo is finally here. More of that in a moment.

First a story, typical of the things that have been happening to me. How we love to create a narrative when a lot of things go wrong in succession. Am I being tested? Am I paying for sins of the past? Of course the correlation is 100% illusory, unless perhaps you feel that further down the track there’ll need to be some things to look back on and have a laugh about. Well let me tell you I have plenty of those.

A couple of weeks ago there was a public holiday falling on a Thursday and here, just as you would in Australia, people take the opportunity to skip town for a long weekend. My neighbours downstairs certainly did, and on the Friday my landlord Herr Meissner took off in his car and this usually means he won’t be back till Sunday night. Leaving me happily home alone.

One of the many things I like about where I live is the fact that this house has serious security. Great peace of mind if you own instruments, really heavy unbreakable doors with deadlocks. Picture this, I’m up in my attic on the Friday afternoon when the doorbell rings. I look down and there is the postman waiting to have a parcel signed for. So I grab my keys, run down the stairs, unlock the door and run to the front gate. It is a package for Herr Meissner, I sign the weird little machine those guys carry, make some small talk in my highly dubious German and pretend I understand the postman’s reply by smiling and nodding my head, as you do. I then take the parcel and return to the front door. Locked. With my keys in the door on the inside. Looking back my best guess is that the weight of the keys has turned the key in the door thus locking it.

So here I am, locked out of my impenetrable fortress of a house for the weekend. No glasses, no shoes, no money, no watch, no phone, no keys. In a country where I can barely speak the language and the nearest person I know who could possibly help me is 18 KMs away. To be continued…

Just kidding. One dim ray of hope, Herr Meissner has a cat, which of course means a cat door. So in desperation I hatch a plan. It’s locked one way to stop the cat getting in, but I eventually prise it open. I get a bamboo stake from the garden. I push it through the cat door in the hope of trying to poke it through the ring my keys are on. Working blind, it took me maybe ten minutes to actually find the keys, and another God knows how many to actually get it through the ring. Then a problem, because of course it’s one of those locks whereby the key must be in a certain position or else it doesn’t come out. So half an hour at least of increasingly frustrating jiggling of the key to get it in the right position, not knowing if that’s even possible. I’m sweating profusely, just about in tears and hoping for the ground to open up and swallow me. Imagine how it felt when finally my keys slide down the stake and hit my hand.

Blessed relief. However, it’s not over yet because the house key is bent at right angles. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever bent a key before but they often don’t bend back. They break. So I have to very carefully try and coax it back into shape. Even then it was very hard to get it into the lock and I was worried it would break off in there. But it didn’t and I got the door open, locked it on the inside, went upstairs to my apartment and collapsed on the floor.

So there you go, just a little snippet of the sort of things that have been happening. Don’t get me started on the bus crash I was in on the way to Wiesbaden, or the fact that on my return I discovered that half of the recording I had done had a corruption on the file. So not only is Sarah Jones, my new Dot an amazing talent, but she was good enough to come to Berlin (Wiesbaden is 600 KMs away) at short notice to re-record everything she’d just done.

The moral of the story: I don’t know, don’t be me? Or, maybe I am blessed after all? Or perhaps difficult births produce brilliant children and this crazy opera I’m creating will be every bit worth the effort. I think it’s that one.

Can’t exactly recall when I decided to create a stage work based on ‘Dot and the Kangaroo’ but it looks like being not such a bad idea. For all it’s flaws, here is a story from the century before last that recognises things like habitat destruction, environmental issues and animal rights. On the downside it’s more than a little weak on indigenous issues, but that’s a standpoint from which I am not qualified to speak and won’t be trying. Instead it’s become (in part) a tale about how those who arrive on the shores of a strange land in boats are not always given the warmest of welcomes, and what that must feel like.

What an adventure this has been (to put it politely). This recording has been made in four cities: Melbourne, Berlin, Wiesbaden and Sydney! You can hear episode 2 in English as part of the full Prelude, Pts 1&2, or just Pt 2 in German (with English subtitles). Please feel to comment and share, it has been written not necessarily with opera buffs in mind, in fact it’s for all those people over the years who have said to me something like ‘well actually I don’t really like opera’. About 150 years ago, some idiot called this art form ‘The Work of Art of the Future’. Am I alone in thinking that might actually be true? Yes, probably…

I don’t think we’re going to see this presented in Australia any time soon, but here in Germany the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, I think they really get it. I can’t imagine they’re just being polite, in my experience people here don’t tiptoe around niceties, they speak their minds. So anyway:

Episode 2, complete in German here.

Prelude, Pts 1&2 Complete, in English here.

Or click the ‘HEAR THE MUSIC’ button above.