Russian sympathisers at the Opera House

Dustyesky in concert. Photo: Lyn McCarthy/supplied.

The Sentinel’s Richie Black intercepts a report into the performance of Dustyesky – the world’s leading fake Russian choir.

Report from CIA operative #4654AB:

As per Agency orders, I attended the performance of “Dustyesky” on Saturday, 22 May at the Sydney Opera House. My directive was to examine evidence of Russian sympathy that might indicate malign political intentions to disrupt US/Australian relations.

These men are a collective of individuals that were formed, it is alleged, in a commune the locals refer to as Mullumbimby. Their M.O. is singing of traditional Russian songs, including material featuring propaganda sloganeering.

This operative arrived at the so-called “Opera House”, a local concert hall, at 7:00pm in readiness for the 7:30pm proceedings. A brief reconnaissance indicated many in attendance were in an older demographic – which suggests the most susceptible to revolutionary agitation in this country are over 50 and middle-class.  

Few, however, were wearing masks and – clustered together in the poorly designed (but clearly Soviet-inspired) foyer – we can perhaps anticipate that many of the effects will be mitigated by an outbreak of Covid-19.

On site, my partner-agent (who has been imbedded until recently at the commune of Byron Bay close to Mullumbimby) joined myself – where we received our entry passes (or “tickets”). We then proceeded to purchase two bottles of red wine in order to blend in more effectively with the crowd.

We also both noted the presence of a small stand disseminating Dustyesky propaganda – notably a selection of t-shirts.

The performance itself was held in an inner chamber called “the Joan Sutherland Theatre” (probably a reference to one of their Olympic swimmers of which the Aussies are so goddamn proud). This venue forces its audiences to sit closely in tight configuration, ideal (whether by design or not) for provoking the kind of collective agitation necessary to foment an uprising.

Immediately prior to the commencement of proceedings, a loudspeaker informed attendees that taking of pictures and video was forbidden – a directive, it was noted, which was ignored by several in attendance, perhaps as a means to disseminate propaganda.

The performers were a motley bunch – yet unified in being hairy and middle-aged. Still, we have to admit, their material, which ranged from folk songs to Soviet anthems, was delivered with undeniable power and conviction.

True, the presence of a on-stage announcer (an “MC”) who provided interlinking commentary between songs – suggested the event was not being taken entirely seriously. Even this agent, in a slight breach of protocol, chuckled.

Nevertheless, the ensemble (or “choir”) performed the material with what could be labelled “gusto”, faithfulness and considerable skill. Despite our training in resisting psychological manipulation, both my partner and I were moved, in particular, by the gentle sweetness of their rendition of ‘Monotonously Rings the Little Bell’ and roused by ‘The Red Army is the Strongest’. Meanwhile, despite our best intentions, our toes distinctly tapped during ‘The Cossacks Ride Over the Danube’.

My agent-partner seemed particularly moved. She observed that the performers were enjoying themselves – thereby inspiring the audience to enjoy themselves. My partner speculated that Dustyesky is, in fact, an eccentric exercise in pure enjoyment rather than a political one.

She thought it was refreshing that a collective of men was involved in something that allowed them to express sensitivity and community without recourse to traditional, competitive and violent modes of “male bonding” behaviour.

I told her I didn’t know what the hell she was talking about – and it seemed pretty damn commie to me.

Thankfully, the wine we had purchased in the foyer provided a necessary calming influence that allowed me to mentally focus on ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ during quieter moments.   

At the conclusion of the event, which provoked rapturous applause, the “M.C.” invited the audience to a venue called “the Opera Bar”.

We attended this dive in order to provide further intel. Upon arrival, we noted the price of the drinks – twenty-eight of their currency (“dollaroos”) for the house red wine and what they call a “pint” of pale ale beer! (This will explain the amount featured on the invoice for work expenses I’ve claimed.) Unfortunately, intel was limited – at the best of times, the local dialect is almost impenetrable. Most of the members of the choir were also in an inebriated state and, due to the specific requirements of the assignment, so were we.

Eventually, we retired (gratefully) to a nearby McDonald’s, where – after the powerful cultural attack we had experienced – a Big Mac n’ Fries provided a soothing balm. God bless America.

Report concludes.