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Former White House Aide Makes Stage Debut in ‘Carnival of Animals’

September 11, 1989

OCEANSIDE, Calif. (AP) _ Alexander Haig, the feisty career Army officer and former cabinet member, says his life in zoo-like atmospheres prepared him well for his stage debut as a narrator for ″Carnival of the Animals.″

On Sunday night, Haig and his wife, Pat, narrated Ogden Nash’s verses that accompany Camille Saint-Saens’ ″Carnival of the Animals.″

The performance with the California Chamber Virtuosi ended a three-day music festival celebrating the fifth anniversary of Leisure Village Ocean Hills, a 1,200-unit retirement community. Haig sits on its board of directors.

The four-star general, failed presidential candidate, former secretary of state and one-time Nixon aide was persuaded by Leisure Village developer Michael Tenzer to participate.

Haig said it shouldn’t surprise Americans that a former politician is trying his hand at acting.

″It’s a first for me in this category, but as an ex-politican I have been acting in the recent past, rather expensively though,″ said Haig, who owns an international marketing firm in Washington, D.C., and lectures frequently about global issues.

″I am a departure from the norm in Los Angeles, though, where some go from acting to politics and I go from politics to acting, but I don’t find it unfamiliar ground because if you look at this as the ‘Carnival of the Animals’ I’ve just left the greatest zoo in the world - Washington D.C.″

The nearly 1,000 people at the performance heard the Haigs narrate passages describing lions, turtles, elephants, kangaroos, birds, swans and mules.

The narrations were followed by piano music that brought alive the world of apes; a string quintet that transformed the stage into a managerie of lions, elephants, mules, roosters and swans; a flutist who took the crowd to ocean depths; a clarinetist whose backstage cuckooing delighted the audience; and a percussionist’s instruments that captured the dances of prehistoric fossils.

Wearing a navy blue suit with a white shirt and yellow tie, Haig stood before the musicians like a general, frequently glancing at them and the audience while clutching a black notebook containing his script.

He listened intently to the music. Then, taking cues from conductor Henri Temianka, Haig read his lines. Delighting in some, he smiled and blushed after hearing the crowd chuckle and clap.

″In the world of mules, there are no rules,″ he read quickly and loudly as dueling violins brought the sounds of mules to life.

Another verse was a tongue-twister, but Haig read it without stumbling.

″Come crown my brow with leaves of myrtle,

″I know the tortoise is a turtle.

″Come carve my name in stone immortal,

″I know the turtoise (sic) is a tortle (sic).

″I know to my profound despair,

″I bet on one to beat a hare.

″I also know I’m now a pauper,

″Because of its tortley turtley torpor.″

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