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MICETRO MOZART, THE OPERA-HOUSE MOUSE

By Anne Elizabeth Eaves

Mozart was a mouse who lived in the Grand Opera Hall.

Mozart loved music more than anything else in the world, so he was very happy to live in the Opera Hall, even though his room was a cramped space behind the wall in the orchestra pit.

But that didn't bother Mozart. Actually, the orchestra pit was perfect for him, because he enjoyed watching the conductor almost as much as he enjoyed the music.

Watching the maestro conduct the orchestra so inspired Mozart that he became a conductor, himself. "Mice-tro" Mozart, as his friends liked to call him, would creep onto the ledge between the orchestra pit and the stage and pretend to conduct while the orchestra played for the opera singers on stage.

"Mice-tro" Mozart was a great conductor. At least, his pals thought so. Every Saturday night, his good friends Matisse, Collette and Munster would come to the Hall, as much to watch Mozart conduct as to enjoy the opera.

Of course, Munster always brought plenty of cheese, more than enough for all his friends.

A night at the opera was a cheese feast. There was gouda cheese, havarte cheese, edam cheese, romano cheese, and, of course, plenty of munster cheese.

Naturally, wherever you find lots of cheese, you'll usually find lots of mice.

It wasn't long before other mice in the neighborhood began to drop by to watch the Mice-tro conduct. Or at least that's what they said. Mostly, they just came for the cheese that Munster would bring.

The more mice that came by, the more cheese Munster would bring. And the more cheese Munster brought, the more the mice came.

Before long, the ledge around the orchestra pit was crawling with mice. Dozens of mice.

Now, all of these mice were well-mannered. But with that many mice, there was bound to be trouble, especially in a place with so many grown-ups. Why on Earth grown-ups are so afraid of a tiny little mouse is real mystery.

It was Munster's cheese and the sight of a mouse that caused such the big ruckus at the Opera House one night during a performance of Aida, a very famous opera by an Italian composer named Giuseppe Verdi.

The performance had begun, and Mice-tro Mozart was conducting. Mozart had to stand on the edge of the ledge in order to see the orchestra while he led them with his baton.

Munster was going from mouse to mouse passing out cheese for them to nibble on while enjoying the music being led by the Mice-tro.

Poor Munster dropped a nice round chunk of gouda cheese. The cheese rolled toward the edge of the ledge. Without thinking, Munster lunged at the cheese to keep it from rolling off the ledge. True to the motto printed on his shirt, he tried to "seize the cheese." He couldn't bear the thought of losing that lovely piece of gouda. It was not a wise decision, because...

Munster tripped and bumped Collette. Collette slipped and bumped Matisse. Matisse fell backward and tipped Mozart right off the edge of the ledge!

Mozart would have landed with a splat on the hard floor of the orchestra pit...if it hadn't been for the timpani drum, that is.

Mozart landed right on the timpani drum, barely missing the drummer's mallet.

"Boom," went the timpani as Mozart landed and bounded off like he was bouncing on a trampoline. Up he flew, barely missing the smashing cymbals.

"Clang," went the cymbals as Mozart flew up, flipped over and popped right into a French horn, right in the middle of a loud, forceful note.

"Daauum," went the French horn as the force of the note blew Mozart right back out again, high, high into the air, up and up, out of the orchestra pit, into the air above the stage and back down again right onto the shoulder of a startled soprano.

They say the opera isn't over until the soprano sings. But this opera was over when the soprano screamed.

Not only did she scream, she screamed in the highest note ever before heard on that stage at the Grand Opera Hall.

"Aiiyeeee!" screeched the soprano, as she bounded across the stage like a very large and lumbering prima ballerina, all the while thrashing at poor Mozart, who was clinging to her shoulder for dear life.

In her panic, the soprano bumped into the mezzo-soprano.

"Ooowaa!" screamed the mezzo-soprano as she fell backward into the arms of the tenor.

"Unnggg!" grunted the tenor as he tumbled backward into the bass singer.

"Ahyaayaa!" groaned the bass singer as he fell backward with a loud crash right into the huge backdrop of an Egyptian city.

"Crash! Kerblam!" went the Egyptian city as the backdrop tipped backward onto the stage floor of the Grand Opera Hall.

"Gasp!" went the audience as they watched in disbelief at the fall of a great civilization--all because of one tiny little mouse named Mozart!

Dazed and confused, Mozart jumped off the soprano's shoulder, who had fainted from all the excitement. At that moment, all eyes were on Mozart there on the stage of the Grand Opera Hall. And they weren't happy eyes.

Suddenly, two stage hands bolted on stage and began furiously swatting at Mozart with brooms. Poor Morzart, trying to dodge the swatting brooms, panicked and ran up the foot of the mezzo-soprano, who up to that point, had been too stunned to move a muscle.

With a dreaded mouse on her foot, though, her muscles now moved with great vigor as she gave a blood-curdling scream and began kicking her foot wildly in the air in an effort to dislodge Mozart.

"Eeeeeeeek!" she shrieked as she flung her leg around madly as though she were dancing the Can-Can.

Suddenly, Mozart was hurtling through the air once again as he lost his grip on the mezzo-soprano's foot. Mozart flew up high over the stage and in a very steep arc, back down again, right toward the orchestra pit.

Collette, Matisse, Munster and the other mice on the ledge watched in horror as Mozart fell downward at a dizzying speed.

The angry cymbalist saw Mozart coming, and tried to time his smash as Mozart flew by.

"Clang!" went the cymbals as they smashed together, barely missing Mozart by a single whisker. What luck.

"Boom!" went the timpani as Mozart landed feet first on the drum, and like another bounce on a trampoline, flew up, flipped over, and landed on his feet on the edge of the ledge where this whole thing began. He tottered and tried to gain his balance.

Just as he was about lose his balance and fall off the ledge again, the little paw of his friend Matisse reached out, snatched Mozart from the edge of the ledge and pulled him back to safety.

"Bravo, my friend, that was one of the best operas I have ever seen," joked Matisse as he embraced the Mice-tro.

"Bravo, bravisimo!" yelled the other mice as they gathered around him congratulating him for such a magnificent performance.

"Cheese for everyone!" yelled his friend Munster, as he joyfully passed around his basket of cheeses for the other mice to enjoy in celebration.

Mozart bowed graciously to his mice friends and fans. But he felt sad inside. Aida was one of his favorite operas, and he felt bad about ruining the performance for the people in the audience, as well as for his mice friends and fans.

Still, that did not stop Mozart from conducting the orchestra.

Each time there was a performance, Mozart would stand on the edge of the ledge conducting the orchestra for his mice friends and fans seated behind him.

And Munster was still allowed to bring cheese for all the mice to enjoy.

But one thing was different.

From that day on, whenever he conducted the orchestra, Mozart wore a safety harness--just in case. With that many mice and that much cheese in a place with so many grown-ups, anything can happen.


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