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Thank you, opera fans; now if I could just figure out how to put my pants on right...

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Nikki Einfeld and Donnalynn Grills in Manitoba Opera's Don Pasquale.

MELISSA TAIT / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS ARCHIVES Enlarge Image

Nikki Einfeld and Donnalynn Grills in Manitoba Opera's Don Pasquale. Photo Store

I wish the snotty critics who insist Winnipeggers are not classy individuals filled to the top of their tuques with culture could see the response I got to the contest wherein I gave away free tickets to the opera.

I personally had expected to be deluged after Friday's column, in which I gave readers a chance to win a pair of tickets to see my deeply moving portrayal of "the Sleeping Cowboy" in Manitoba Opera's spaghetti western version of Don Pasquale, which opened Saturday night at the Centennial Concert Hall.

But even I was blown away when I opened my email and had to scroll through page after page filled with hundreds of entries from classy readers hoping to win tickets to see this opera, which, along with me snoring up a storm, features singing and six-shooters and floozies and a cowboy taking a bubble bath and a tiny stuffed squirrel wearing a gunbelt.

For the record, I had promised the tickets would go to the first reader who sent me an email correctly stating the role I play in this hilarious opera. In a humanitarian gesture, I also included this helpful hint: "It's the Sleeping Cowboy!"

At 5:06 a.m., a reader named Patrick, who apparently doesn't sleep much or drink enough coffee, sent me an email stating: "The role is Don Pasquale."

Before I poke fun at Patrick for confusing the name of the opera with the role I am playing in it, I noticed he'd quickly fired off a second email at 5:09 a.m. wherein he gasped: "The Sleeping Cowboy! THAT'S THE ROLE!"

In the end, not only did Patrick ("I am not at my best until at least 7 a.m.") score a pair of free tickets, but considering the flood of entries from culture-loving readers, the nice folks at Manitoba Opera generously coughed up even more freebies for a bunch of the earliest emailers.

So thanks to everyone who entered and let me just say this from the bottom of my heart -- THE CONTEST IS OVER NOW! STOP SENDING ME EMAILS! THANK YOU!

I have just enough room left now to tell you the unvarnished truth about how I made out on opening night. Sadly, the first operatic snag arose when, in a moment of madness, I tried to put on my opera pants all by myself.

It did not take me long to sense something was not quite right -- I couldn't figure out how to operate the suspenders attached to the itchy wool peasant-style pants, so I wandered out of the dressing room in search of assistance.

"What seems to be the problem?" asked two lovely black-clad opera women who spotted me in the hallway.

"I am having trouble with these suspenders," I grunted in what I hoped was a self-confident operatic tone.

"Ha ha ha," they replied, which caused me to go into Opera Diva Mode and snort in a cranky manner that I was pretty sure I was capable of dressing myself.

Which is when they said: "That's great, Doug, but did you notice that you have your pants on backwards?"

The truth is, in fact, I had not noticed this particular pants problem, which could happen to anyone, but I was not about to admit that, so I just frowned, then waddled bravely back into the dressing room and dealt with the wardrobe emergency in a dark corner.

Things went a lot smoother on stage, other than a minor issue in Act 2 during the thrilling moment wherein one of the lead singers fires an extremely loud gunshot, which causes the Sleeping Cowboy to excitedly lift his manhole cover-sized sombrero, snort loudly, then go back to sleep.

What happened was, when the shot was fired, my mind had wandered elsewhere, so when I hoisted my sombrero and snorted, my right leg decided on its own to jerk violently, slamming into the chair I was sleeping beside, thereby sending it skittering across the stage like a frightened woodland creature.

At this point, I decided to go back to sleep, because like the rest of you, when it comes to the opera, I am a class act.

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

See review on page D3

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 25, 2013 A12

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