The performer tells the audience about his grandmother, who had a lifelong love for the opera. She traveled widely to visit the famous opera houses of the world and to hear at least one performance in each; and she kept all the opera tickets as mementos of her touring. The performer shared her passion for opera, and as a result, his grandmother left him her collection of opera tickets. From his attaché case he brings a stack of roughly fifty tickets, each from a different opera house and opera. These are mixed by a member of the audience, then five spectators are each given a random batch of tickets.
These spectators are asked to stand in the audience, mentally choose any one of the operas they hold and imagine that they are actually experiencing the opera themselves. While doing that, each is requested to think of a prominent melody from that work.
The performer next explains that through hypnotic suggestion he has been able to amplify the psychic faculties of the pianist for the house orchestra, and that she will attempt to sense telepathically the melodies being concentrated on by the five spectators. If any of the five hear their melodies played, they are asked to take their seats.
The performer gives the pianist a post-hypnotic suggestion that puts her into a psychic trance. Then he commands her to play whatever melody comes into her head. Hesitantly at first, she begins to play some notes and chords. She then becomes more certain of herself as the melody develops under her fingers, until it becomes recognizable. One of the five spectators sits down.
The pianist stops briefly, then begins to play another song. Another of the five takes his seat. This occurs twice more, until only one spectator remains standing. The performer turns to her and asks her to concentrate on her mentally chosen ticket—upon which the performer slowly and dramatically reveals first the opera house on the ticket, then the date, the row and the seat number. Finally he says, "It's not an opera that was performed there, was it. You saw 'Pavarotti in Concert'
and you liked this particular melody most!" Suddenly the pianist plays the popular Neapolitan tune, "O Sole Mio"— and the last spectator takes her seat!
Admittedly, this routine is only practicable with a group familiar with opera, which my Italian audiences all were; and for them the effect was sensational. However, with some thought, the premise can be altered to suit the backgrounds and interests of other groups. What I think is particularly instructional here is that the plot of an effect like the Princess Card Trick, and other plots as well, can be successfully adapted to things other than playing cards.
You will have to go to the trouble of making up fifty concert tickets for this effect, which are best done on a computer and laser printer. My tickets are two-and-a-half inches by five, done on different colored card stocks. A sample is shown here:
-e .« .e .e .e .e .e .e .e .e -e. -e .e .e .e -e -e. .e .e -e .e -e .e .e -e
^YYYVVYYYYYYYYYYYYYVYY'(''i jj San Francisco Opera House 3
£ Giacomo Puccini
£ February 8", 1967 - 8:00 pm ^ Row:G—Seat: 11
J. 3. S. 3. 3. 3._3._J>. 3. 9. 3. 3. 3._3._3._3. 188.8.131.52. AAAJ
V 3- 5' i' )' )' )' V V •»■ V •»■ •»■ •*• •»■ •»• '*• •»• »■ »• #•»■»■>■
Twenty-five of these tickets are for various well-known operas. The remaining twenty-five tickets are more particular in their make-up. They consist of five five-ticket sets. In each of these sets you include one famous opera—like Giuseppe
Verdi's Aida or Rigoletto, or Giacomo Puccini's La Bohême or Tosca—and four relatively unknown ones, such as Paul Hindemith's Cardillac, Igor Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress, Hans Werner Henze's II re Cervo and Claudio Monteverdi's L'incoronazione di Poppea. A little time spent with an opera handbook from the public library will supply you with all the composers and works you need. For the fifth set of tickets I use "Luciano Pavarotti in Concert" as the popular choice, with "O Sole Mio" listed under the concert title.
Stack the five arranged sets of tickets on top of the twenty-five random tickets. Also prepare the top ticket of the stack with Jontay ridging or Koornwinder bumps. You should also treat some of the tickets that bear older dates with a bit of brown shoe polish, so that they look their age.
Before performance, you will need to provide the orchestra's pianist with piano scores for the five popular songs used in your set of tickets. She should learn a few bars of each so that she needn't refer obviously to the sheet music. Since the melodies are very familiar, this should present no problem for an experienced pianist. She must also be instructed on how to turn in a believable simulation of a hypnotic trance.
After telling the story of how you came into possession of the opera tickets, ask someone in the front row to help you mix them. Cut off at least half the tickets for yourself (twenty-five or more) and hand the bottom half of the stack to the spectator. Shuffle the tickets you hold as he does the same. Your shuffle, however, is false and keeps the sets of five intact. You can use a Charlier false-haymow shuffle, or simply push off groups of five tickets at a time, each group onto the last.
When you complete your shuffle, cut the ridged ticket back to the top of the stack, if it is not already there. Then have the spectator place his shuffled tickets onto yours. Hand him the whole stack and invite him to give it a cut. Chances are good that he will cut the ridged ticket (and your stack) to the top. If you don't see the prepared ticket on top after his cut, have him give the stack another cut, then retrieve the tickets and cut them at the ridged ticket yourself.
Next, casually thumb off five groups of five tickets each, handing them to five spectators, whom you ask to stand. You will now proceed to force the five songs known to your pianist, using a extremely subtle principle. I first came on this concept in a trick of Finn Jon's, the brilliant Norwegian magician,16 and this was my source of inspiration. However, while preparing this book for press I became aware that Phil Goldstein, thinking along musical lines as well, applied this principle to songs roughly eight years ago.17 The idea is this: Each person is asked to think of an opera from which he or she can recall a prominent melody Since they each hold five tickets, four of which bear the names of relatively obscure works, they will naturally choose the one opera with which they are most familiar!18
""Pick Up an Object" from the Finn Jon: Mentalism video tape.
'?See "Humthing" in his Mix '86 lecture notes.
"Mr. Goldstein, in his trick, eliminates the slightest chance of another song
All that remains is for you and your pianaccomplice to reveal the songs and the information on the last spectator's ticket in as dramatic a manner as possible.
It is worth mentioning that, for return engagements, you can replace the force tickets in the five-ticket sets with other well-known operas from the stock of twenty-five random tickets that make up the bottom half of the stack.
I devised the method just explained for the audiences on the Schering company cruises. These groups never exceeded a hundred in number. However, if I were to do this routine for larger audiences, in which the assisting spectators were far enough apart to ensure that they wouldn't later compare notes, I would adopt the principle exploited by Ross Johnson and Peter Tappan in their excellent effect, "Princess A-hoy".19 Four of the five-ticket sets handed out would contain the same five opera titles. Four of these titles would be well-known works, and the fifth title an obscure opera. The fifth set of tickets would be made just the reverse, as in the previous method: that is, four obscure works and one popular one.
Having given out these five sets, you ask each spectator to think of an opera with a prominent melody he can recall. Then have your hypnotized pianist play the leading melody from each of the four well-known operas represented in the first four sets of tickets. When he is done, ask any spectator who recognized the opera he or she was thinking of to sit down. Four do, leaving one person standing. He can only be thinking of the one recognizable opera he holds, and you proceed to than that intended being picked. Instead of obscure tunes, he provides titles for nonexistent songs that, nevertheless, sound as if they should be familiar. I have yet to experience a problem using obscure operas, but the idea of inventing plausible-sounding titles for known composers has merit. "Tappan's The Impostress Princess (1986), pp. 104-114.
reveal the various information details on the ticket, and conclude by having the spectator sit down when he hears the pianist play the correct melody.
Ridged cards can be used for many purposes. I believe that the applications and ideas explained in this chapter are only the beginning. If the reader gives these gimmicks some thought, other possibilities for their use will surely be discovered.
Boris Bossi and Eschi boris Bossi, who later became the president of the I. A.L. (International Artists Lodge), provided me with my first professional engagement. Around 1968, at the Berlin Academy of Arts, he organized many magic shows and during this period presented me as a close-up performer. I also met him at the Red Rose, where he did a talking act, and as a second turn presented a fascinating mental routine that to this day remains inexplicable to me.
It is thanks to Boris and Eschi Bossi's mental program that I turned again to this fascinating branch of conjuring. Without this continuing study of mentalism, this book would probably never have been possible.
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