Thursday, May 20, 2010

"Rose-in-the-Teeth Panache"

While reviewing the many pieces of music we are preparing for our choir's impending concert, I got distracted by reading some very lengthy instruction notes in the front of our score for the huapango-styled song Las Stephen Hatfield.

I came to this instruction:

"Keep in mind that the most important thing about the words in Las Amarillas is the rose-in-your-teeth panache of the diction"

Now I was not sure what "rose-in-your-teeth panache" was exactly.  In a vague kind of way I knew what the editor meant, but the phrase stimulated my curiosity to know precisely, so I decided to google the phrase to deepen my understanding of the meaning of the notion of  "rose- in-the-teeth panache."

I found all kinds of curious things.

The first site to lay out a definition of the expression was a line of bras called Panache Bras.

Panache Bras had this to say:

"The dictionary defines "panache" as "flamboyant, stylish elegance." There could be no more appropriate description for the line of Panache bras about to be laid at your feet, so to speak. Add to those wonderful attributes those of comfort, support, and an indefinable something. You'll soon realize you don't need a dictionary to describe magic in lingerie."

"You'll want to dance the night away in the Panache Tango Plunge Bra. Slip a rose between your teeth and discover the true meaning of "flamboyant" when you slip on this bra."

Next stop was a site selling some sheet music for "Habanera" from Carmen. The description of the sheet music read:

"Played with panache, this transcription of Carmen’s opening aria will stop any show – especially with the addition of some simple costuming or a rose in your teeth."

Next, I found a kindred soul-seeker asking profoundly on yahoo answers:

"Why is putting a rose in your teeth considered sexy?"

Evidently this question was resolved two years ago when the asker posted the best answer:

"Actually that shite [sic] is only in the movies. Man can you imagune [sic] the thorns ripping your lips up if you did it for real. LMAO"

Ah, the wisdom that is out there in cyberspace, if only we knew how to find it!!

Getting a bit more academic, on Wikipedia I learned that "panache" is a French word that "carries the connotation of a flamboyant manner and reckless courage." The literal meaning is "plume," like the kind worn in a helmet or hat. It used to have an unfavorable meaning, but the french poet and dramatist, Edmond Rostand used it in such a way in his playCyrano de Bergerac as to give it from thenceforth a virtuous connotation. Panache is now used to describe someone who has a dashing confidence of style, or shows a certain flamboyance and courage

And finally, the online dictionary states simply:

"Dash; verve"
"a dashing manner; style; swagger"
"distinctive and stylish elegance"

The rose in the teeth? Well, we all have seen that in the Tango. In a forum where I think there were dancers asking questions, it sounds like the best answer is that the rose in the teeth originated with Rudolph Valentino, and that it became a cliche that "northeners" liked, but that Argentinians thought a ridiculous caricature

All right, all right, all right! I understand the directive from the choral music now.

I figure the best chance of mustering up any "panache" with which to sing is to know the song really really well. So, you will find in Frescamari's practice room a recording of me practicing for fluency and doing my best to achieve some -- ahem -- "panache" with the diction.

Then, of course there is the trick to apply it to the music. There sure ain't going to be much "panache" without a secure knowledge of the music.

In the end, I'm not sure how much "rose-in-the-teeth panache" I was able to achieve. Maybe the real secret would be to get me one of those Panache Tango Plunge Bras mentioned above and wear it to the concert!!
To hear diction practice for the words of Las Amarillas click here and to hear me feebly struggle to achieve some alto "rose-in-the-teeth panache": "Las Amarillas Diction Practice"

To find out more about Cantigas Women's Choir performance this Saturday in Hoboken or Wednesday, May 26 in Manhattan, click here:  Cantigas Women's Choir

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