Once there was a cat who that he could sing opera.
He had grown up on the streets and in the alleyways of the city, and once when he was young his mother had led him and the rest of her litter by the back stage of the opera house. On that particular night the air was sticky with humidity so the stagehands were at the door having at cigarette and letting in what little fresh air there was to the stifling backstage area.
What they were letting out was the beautiful sounds of the opera.
The melody called to the young cat like a siren song and he lagged behind his family to get a better listen. Nearing the door, he could hear the raising of the chorus voices filling the auditorium with gorgeous sound that wafted out into the alley like a sweet cooling breeze.
He edged closer, unable to help himself and one of the stagehands caught sight of him, and thinking he was trying to get into the back door, they kicked at him to scare him off.
The little cat scrambled to get away and caught back up with his mother and siblings, but it was too late, he was hooked. From then on he would sneak away whenever he could to come back to the opera house to try and get a listen to more of the glorious music of the masters; Puccini, Verdi, and his favourite, Wagner.
In his mind he pictured himself singing the great solos and sometimes when he got carried away he would begin to meow along with the songs being sung inside only to incur a beer can or cigarette butt being thrown at him to drive him off.
But that never deterred him from coming back time and again.
When he had grown and left the security of his mother’s watchful eye, he made his home in the alleyway behind the opera house and almost each night, sat and listened in the shadows.
Until one day the stage hands left the door propped open and unattended as they were pulled away for some set malfunction emergency, giving the foolhardy young cat his opportunity to leap down to quickly dart inside.
The backstage area was dark and full of random set pieces and props. Luckily cats have very well developed night vision and he was able to navigate unseen to the curtains off to the side of the stage easily enough.
There he sat and watched in awe as out on the stage the prima donna sang an aria that had the entire audience rapt. The melody built until the tenor was to come in to join her song but the whole occurrence was too much for the cat and he leapt out on stage to begin meowing in response to the opera singer’s song.
The entire house gaped in shock as the cat meowed loudly and the prima donna stared stunned at what she was witnessing; a little alley cat standing center stage, meowing along to the music, proudly and loudly as though its sounds were more than just regular cat throat calls; almost as if it was trying to sing.
Realizing she was still on stage, the opera singer did what she would have done if her partner’s singing was up to par; she sang loud enough to mask their imperfections.
From off stage the tenor stood with his mouth dropped wide watching his duet be sung by a cat.
When the audience erupted in applause at the end of the song, it was as much for the skills and professionalism of the prima donna as it was for the brave little cat, but he stood proudly as though he was the star of the show.
The prima donna turned to her unlikely partner and gracefully curtsied, holding out her arms to offer her ample bosom and the cat leapt into her arms and they took their bows together.
From then on, everyone there would tell the story about the cat who thought he could sing opera.
And he could.