Yesterday I posted one of my rewrites of the Major General's song from "The Pirates of Penzance." It wasn't the only time I used that number as a model. Four years ago, I was asked to participate in a memorial for Doug De Lisle, with whom I shared aspects of my profession (restaurant and theater reviewing and, on one occasion, the stage ("The Cradle Will Rock," Schenectady Civic Players, Oct. 2004). Most often, I'd see him with fellow press people at opera performances, where we'd debate such things as the merit of translations. So I decided to present my tribute as a song, and once again ravaged the legacy of W. S. Gilbert.
He was the very model of a man of versatility,
Intelligence and humor were the heart of his ability;
His writing covered topics from the opera to gastronomy
And came across with elegance consistent with his bonhomie!
You’d find him at Lo Porto when he wasn’t at a theater,
Enjoying tiramisu (nothing’s creamier or swee-a-ter),
Then back to write a piece about the latest scandal Mayoral:
Or how the City Council has been padding out the pay-o-roll!
He wrote about the restaurants that nourished and inspired him,
Which kept him on the go, for all that dining never tired him:
You’d think so many passions could become a liability,
But not when you’re a model of a man of versatility!
If you looked in any theater, he probably was acting there
Unless he was directing what the actors were enacting there,
And if he didn’t have the time to be onstage and doing it,
You’d see him with a notebook in the audience, reviewing it!
He was savvy and supportive of the local arts community
But didn’t let pretentiousness get past him with impunity;
If you gave a good performance, he would join the chorus telling you,
But if you laid an egg, he’d be the first one out there shelling you!
With the patience of a Gandhi and the wisdom of a Socrates,
An artist spends a lifetime fighting frauds and mediocrities;
Although I wouldn’t say de Lisle did it with humility,
He was the very model of a man of versatility!
His love of loves, the only time you’d hear de Lisle clamor more
Was when he got to listen to the likes of Lucy Lammermoor;
He journeyed to the Met to hear the finest talent vocally,
And even tried to tolerate the ones presented locally.
To summarize a fellow in a verse of so much brevity
Avoids the truly poignant and defines itself by levity.
If Doug were here to edit this, I’m sure I’d take a hammering
Especially when dealing with my very lousy grammering!
We remember Doug de Lisle with affection and with gratitude,
Opinionated? Sure, but he’d be nothing without attitude.
We’ll never see another who can earn his credibility
As someone who’s the model of a man of versatility!
In memoriam, Doug de Lisle; 15 March 2008