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Quasimodo – Favourite Rhyming Couplet

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April 7, 2013 by IPAlchemist

Last night I went to see a performance at the King’s Head Theatre of Quasimodo, a musical by Lionel Bart (of Oliver! fame), not quite finished and never performed before this run.  As might be expected from the title, the story is based on Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  One is always nervous about revived or newly discovered pieces – there is often a reason for their neglect – but this was great. Fantastic hummable tunes and emotion-stirring harmonies.  The musical was revived and directed by my friend Robert Chevara and had an amazing cast – every single one gave an astonishingly good performance, with first-class singing, acting, and movement.  It is not on for much longer, so do get to see it if you can.

There was a lot for the lover of language as well.

First, the viewer is informed that Quasimodo is named for Quasimodo Sunday, otherwise known as Low Sunday, which, as luck would have it, is actually today. It is the Sunday after Easter and the name come from the introit for the day:  Quasi modo geniti infantes “as newborn babes” (1 Pet. ii:2). According to the story, Quasimodo was found as an abandoned infant on that day, and thusly named.

The other thing is that the musical contains what could just possibly be my favourite rhyming couplet. Introducing Esmeralda to the bells of Notre Dame, Quasimodo sings the lines:

They cannot wait

To tintinnabulate

It is probably helped by the fact that the word was delivered perfectly , with a knowing pause to signify to the audience that the performer knew the absurdity of this character delivering such an improbable word – absolutely glorious.  (Here I am getting annoyed that spellchecker does not like “tintinnabulate”.)

So dear readers, this got me thinking. An early blogpost of the IPAlchemist invited submission of favourite words.  We haev probably gone as far as we can with that for the time being. Now my question is – what is your favourite rhyming couplet? From any work, including one that you made up yourself. In honour of Quasimodo I will invite responses during Eastertide. So I will do a roundup around Pentecost.

Submit by comment, Twitter or email. Over to you!


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