It was probably not the most beautiful sound they ever heard, but delegates to a SouthEast Asian diplomatic conference were treated to a couple of tunes from West Side Story -- as warbled, parodically, by U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Russian foreign minister Yevgeny Primakov.
Retitled "East-West Story," the duet occurred at the final banquet of the Association of SouthEast Asian Nations' (ASEAN), July 28. According to the Associated Press, spoofs of popular and traditional songs are often done at these meals.
AP reports that Albright appeared with "a rose behind her ear," and sang (to the tune of "Maria"), "The most beautiful song I ever heard: Yevgeny. Yevgeny. Yevgeny." In response, Primakov apparently sang, "Madeleine Albright, I just met a girl named Madeleine Albright... And suddenly I find, she thinks she'll change my mind for free -- Never!... She's over the top, but she's all right. From Prague to Manila, she's stomped like Godzilla."
Though the banquet was private, reporters pieced together the spoofy lyrics from a tape of the event and interviews with the audience. Delegates apparently dressed in gang-style jeans and t-shirts to approximate the style in the Stephen Sondheim/Leonard Bernstein musical.
One Russian delegate sprayed graffiti on a wall during the opening number, while a knife-wielding American chased him away." After Albright/Primakov dueted on "America," everyone joined in on the finale, "Tonight:" "Tonight, tonight, we do not have to fight tonight... Going mad, launching bombs into space. For days and days we had the feeling, those two would get together... We know now we were right. So East meets West and freedom is the best. The Asian value of the hour is people power." For their part, delegates from India used Indian pop music and a tune from Evita to satirize their current testing of nuclear weaponry. "Don't Cry for Me, ASEAN" reportedly was sung to the tune of "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina."
-- By David Lefkowitz